A portfolio change

Canberra parliament house

David Gillespie returns to the regional health portfolio as Nats reshuffle their Cabinet positions

A federal Cabinet reshuffle in the wake of Barnaby Joyce returning to the Deputy Prime Minister’s role has seen a change to the health portfolio’s line up.

Dr David Gillespie returns to the health area as Minister for Regional Health, succeeding his National Party colleague Mark Coulton in the role.

Dr Gillespie, a gastroenterologist, and MP for Lyne (NSW) has experience in the role, having served as Assistant Minister for Rural Health in 2016-17 and Assistant Minister for Health in 2017. 

Taking to social media to announce his appointment, Dr Gillespie said: “It is a great honour to be asked to serve our Country in The Regional Health Portfolio, I’d like to thank the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister for their confidence in me.

I am looking forward to pursuing important health reforms, particularly for regional Australia,” he said. “There is still a significant amount of work we need to do, particularly with the challenges COVID-19 has delivered, and I’m very much looking forward to working closely with my good friend Greg Hunt as we tackle these challenges together.”

Pharmacy Guild of Australia national president, Trent Twomey, congratulated Dr Gillespie on his appointment and said it came at a challenging time for patients in regional, rural and remote locations across the whole country. “Health professionals, and in particular community pharmacists, face added pressures in meeting the health needs of their communities in regional, rural and remote Australia,” he said.

“Dr Gillespie brings his previous experience as Assistant Minister for Rural Health and Assistant Minister for Health to his new portfolio and this understanding of the needs of these communities will be invaluable”.

“We look forward to working closely with Dr Gillespie, especially in showing how community pharmacists working to their full scope of practice can help fill gaps in care and improve the wellbeing of these patients. In some remote locations the community pharmacist is the only health professional available to provide care so we must ensure that they can fully use their professional skills and knowledge,” he said.

Mr Twomey also thanked the outgoing Minister, Mark Coulton, for his commitment in the role.

“Mark Coulton has held the portfolio during a particularly difficult period and was unwavering in his desire to achieve the best possible health outcomes for everyone in regional, rural and remote Australia,” he said.

“We enjoyed a strong and constructive relationship with him, and I welcome his ongoing contribution as a Member of Parliament.”

PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, welcomed Dr Gillespie back to the portfolio and thanked Minister Coulton for his exceptional service to regional Australia.

“PSA congratulates Dr Gillespie on his appointment as Minister for Regional Health. His past experience in the portfolio, and as a clinician, will help drive innovation in the portfolio. PSA looks forward to working with him to improve health care and health outcomes for people in regional Australia.” 

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