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Greg Hunt Announced As Sussan Ley’s Replacement As Health Minister

This post originally featured on ABC News.

Greg Hunt has been named Australia’s new Health Minister as part of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s fourth reshuffle since taking the top office.

Mr Hunt will also take on the role of Sports Minister, also previously held by Ms Ley.

Mr Turnbull praised his “policy, analytical and communication” skills.

“He is ideally suited to take on the very important, critically important front line portfolio of health and sport,” he said.

Greg Hunt visits Frankston Hospital patient Fay Tipping after being announced as the Turnbull government’s new Health Minister. Photo: Justin McManus

Mr Hunt took over the industry, innovation and science portfolios from Christopher Pyne in July, bringing to an end almost a decade working in the environment portfolio.

As well as a variety of environment related shadow roles, he has previously served as environment minister, acting cities minister, parliamentary secretary to the foreign affairs minister and parliamentary secretary to the environment minister since his election in 2001.

Last year, he was awarded the inaugural Best Minister in the World award at the World Government Summit hosted by the United Arab Emirates.

The four-day trip for the summit cost taxpayers more than $32,300.

Mr Hunt also made international headlines in 2014 after telling the BBC that he used Wikipedia to research climate change.

Mr Hunt said he was honoured to take on the role, citing his “genuine passion” for health.

Speaking to reporters at Frankston Hospital — where his mother previously worked as a nurse — he emphasised the Government’s commitment to Medicare.

“I have, and we have, a rock solid commitment to the future of Medicare,” he said.

“It is simply indispensable.”

Mr Hunt also highlighted mental health as an area of focus, saying he intends to make it a “critical part” of his role.

Labor’s health spokeswoman Catherine King urged Mr Hunt to lift the freeze on the Medicare benefits schedule in his new role.

“Malcolm Turnbull has changed his salesperson when it comes to health, but he hasn’t changed a single one of his policies,” she said.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale criticised the appointment, saying, “Greg Hunt nearly killed the Great Barrier Reef, imagine what he’s going to do to our health”.

First Indigenous appointment to Commonwealth ministry

Senator Sinodinos’ former role will be taken over by the Prime Minister’s office, reducing Cabinet by one.

Ken Wyatt has also been promoted from Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care to Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health.

Mr Wyatt is now the first Indigenous person appointed to the Commonwealth ministry.

Michael Sukkar has also been appointed as Assistant Minister to the Treasurer.

Mr Turnbull said the new ministers would be sworn in by the Governor-General in Canberra on Tuesday.

“This is not a large reshuffle,” he said.

Cultural change surrounding expenses

Mr Turnbull also used the press conference to highlight the “big cultural change” he intended to introduce in terms of parliamentary entitlements.

“We need to have greater transparency, greater accountability, monthly reporting will be very important,” he said.

“I will shake this up, I can tell you. There is a big cultural change on the way. It is underway already.”

His comments come little more than a week after Ms Ley stepped aside from Cabinet amid two investigations into her travel expenses, which included billing taxpayers to attend two New Year’s Eve events hosted by a prominent Queensland businesswoman and donor.

Ms Ley was also criticised for purchasing a $795,000 luxury apartment on the Gold Coast while on a taxpayer-funded trip, claiming it was an impulse purchase.

When asked several times about the investigations into Ms Ley’s expenses over the past week, Mr Turnbull said the report would not be made public.