First week on the job for new health department secretary

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Yesterday was the first official day for the new secretary of the Department of Health and Aged Care, Blair Comley.

Mr Comley rejoins the Australian Public Service from EY Port Jackson Partners.

Between 2011 and 2013, he was secretary of the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. He then joined PwC and subsequently led the New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet as Secretary between 2014 and 2017.

Mr Comley succeeds Professor Brendan Murphy, who led the health department for three years, having previously served as the Commonwealth chief medical officer.

His early weeks in the position will be impacted by the Albanese government's ongoing dispute with community pharmacies over the increase in maximum dispensed quantities of 325 PBS-listed medicines.

Less public rancour around the issue in recent weeks suggests discussions are underway on a potential settlement, particularly following meetings between the Pharmacy Guild and the most senior levels of the government.

Mr Comley will also lead the implementation of the range of measures announced in the 2023-24 Budget, including reforms to primary care, and the capability review of the health department conducted by the Australian Public Service Commission.