Date set for Brendan Murphy’s move to secretary role

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday June 1, 2020

Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy
Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Professor Brendan Murphy is set to commence in his new role as secretary of the Department of Health next month.

As chief medical officer, Murphy has been at the forefront of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, as both a key policy advisor and government spokesperson.

Former Health secretary Glenys Beauchamp was scheduled to retire from her position on February 28, with Murphy announced as her replacement. Beauchamp returned to the role just days into her retirement when the coronavirus pandemic hit Australia. The health emergency prompted Murphy to focus “entirely” on the pandemic response.

On Friday Health revealed Murphy would officially begin as secretary on July 13, after the final phase of the government’s three-step plan to ease out of coronavirus restrictions has been completed.

Murphy will remain involved with the national COVID-19 response. Originally trained as a medical specialist in nephrology, he is the first medical doctor to hold a secretary role since the Fraser government.

Prior to his appointment as chief medical officer in 2016, Murphy was the chief executive officer of Austin Health in Victoria. He is a former CMO and director of Nephrology at St Vincent’s Health and has also been president of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology.


Read more: Brendan Murphy: pandemic policy advisor making a difference


Current deputy chief medical officer professor Paul Kelly will take on Murphy’s role until a formal appointment is made, starting June 29.

Acting Health secretary Caroline Edwards — who has been busy representing the department during the Senate inquiry into the government’s COVID-19 response — will remain in the department but will revert to the role of associate secretary. Prior to the pandemic, she had a short stint as deputy secretary of social policy in the Department of the Prime Minister of Cabinet. She was previously a deputy secretary for Health.

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