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Appointments to the Health Services Advisory Committee.

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The Treasurer, Mr Peter Costello, today announced the appointments of Dr Michael Wooldridge as the new chairman of the Health Services Advisory Committee (HSAC) and of Dr Christopher David Mitchell as the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) representative on the HSAC.

“I believe Dr Wooldridge’s qualifications and his combined experience in government and in medical practice make him uniquely suited to the position of chairman of the HSAC,” said Mr Costello.

Dr Wooldridge replaces the previous chairman, the Hon Tim Fischer who had been chairman since the establishment of the HSAC in September 2003.

“I would like to thank Mr Fischer for his valuable contribution to the HSAC and for his dedication in ensuring the success of this consultative forum.

“Dr Mitchell has the necessary experience and qualifications to ably represent the RACGP and the objectives of the HSAC.”

The HSAC was set up in response to the Review of the Impact of Part IV of the Trade Practices Act 1974 on the recruitment and retention of medical practitioners in rural and regional Australia (the Wilkinson Review). It is a non-statutory body. The HSAC provides a liaison forum for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and health professionals, and supports the implementation of the Wilkinson Review recommendations.

Dr Wooldridge was the Commonwealth Minister for Health and Aged Care from 1996 to 2001. Before joining Parliament in 1987, Dr Wooldridge trained as a medical practitioner. He is currently chairman of Neurosciences Australia, the Ministerial Advisory Committee on AIDS, Sexual Health and Hepatitis, and the Cooperative Research Centre in Oral Health Science.

Dr Mitchell is in general practice at Lennox Head and a visiting medical officer at Ballina District Hospital in New South Wales. He is the current chair of the RACGP’s National Rural Faculty and a member of the RACGP Council. Dr Mitchell is involved in a number of other RACGP committees and other organisations.

CANBERRA 10 March 2005

Contact: David Alexander 02 6277 7340