Health secretary steps down, medical doctor recommended for job


Secretary of the Department of Health Glenys Beauchamp will retire from her position on February 28, after more than 30 years in the public service.

On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced he would recommend the government’s current chief medical officer professor Brendan Murphy as Beauchamp’s replacement. The Mandarin understands a medical doctor has not held a secretary role since the Whitlam government.

Morrison said Murphy would “continue to play an active role in the management of Australia’s response to the coronavirus and the rollout of health initiatives related to the bushfires”, and would take on the job from February 29.

Glenys Beauchamp

Beauchamp had “decided to retire”, according to Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt, and will be on leave from January 24.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health told The Mandarin Beauchamp’s retirement is “solely related to her 65th birthday”, as it is “quite normal for a person to retire at that time, particularly after giving long and dedicated public service for over 30 years and to allow time for a seamless transition”.

Alongside her secretary role, she has also been a board member of the Australian Sports Commission — the corporate government agency whose recommendations were overturned in the sports rorts scandal. The official date of her retirement falls the day before Senate estimates comes back from the new year break, where those with knowledge of the grants program will likely be questioned.

Hunt thanked Beauchamp for her service.

“In her time as Secretary of Health, she has been instrumental in improving health services for the Australian people, including a focus on mental health, increased medical research, funding life-saving medicines and strengthening our relationships with the health community,” he said.

“She has been an excellent leader for the staff of the Health Department and I have valued her advice and commitment to serving the Australian people.”

Beauchamp has spent more than two decades in the Australian Public Service, including nine years as a secretary. She also spent 13 years with the ACT public service, and was also president of the Institute of Public Administration Australia’s ACT branch. Before moving into health, she was head of the Department of Innovation, Industry and Science .

In 2010 she received the Public Service Medal for her work in coordinating the government’s response to the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

Professor Brendan Murphy

Murphy was formerly the CEO at Austin Health in Victoria, before he joined the Department of Health in 2016. He has worked in the Australian health system as a doctor, medical researcher and senior executive for 40 years.

Current deputy chief medical officer professor Paul Kelly will take on Murphy’s role until a formal appointment is made.

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