Prolonged uncertainty about who will have carriage for Indigenous Health in the Turnbull Ministry could soon be resolved. Maybe.
Croakey has been informed it’s likely that Liberal MP and Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, will take Ministerial responsibility for Indigenous Health, although his office is unable to confirm any arrangements yet.
Wyatt, who has been the member for Hasluck in WA since 2010, became the first Indigenous MP to sit on the front bench, when he was appointed as Assistant Minister For Health by Malcolm Turnbull in September last year. With the Turnbull Government’s re-election in July, he was named Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, as part of a team of three with Sussan Ley (Minister for Health and Aged Care and Minister for Sport) and David Gillespie (Assistant Minister for Rural Health).
A spokesperson for Ken Wyatt confirmed in a phone call today that the office was awaiting receipt of the official charter letters for the appointment, but a follow- up email from another staff member advised that, “The portfolio allocations for this Ministry are still being reviewed and there is no confirmation on the specific responsibilities of Minister Wyatt’s portfolio, outside of the fact he will remain responsible for the Aged Care sector.”
If the appointment does go ahead, it will be another first for Wyatt (first Indigenous MP to be appointed responsible for Indigenous Health) and is likely to be welcomed by the sector because of his advocacy, and strong track record in health and education.
It will also, no doubt, be welcome to have some certainty about who is responsible for Indigenous Health in the Health portfolio. The role was previously covered by the former Minister for Rural Health Senator Fiona Nash, and has been the subject of some uncertainty since the appointment of the new Ministry in July.