AMA Federal Council discusses ICEG, climate change

18 Feb 2021

The AMA Federal Council has held its first meeting of 2021, with one-third of Councillors attending in person in Canberra, and the remaining two-thirds attending via Zoom last Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. 

Federal Council Chair, Associate Professor Julian Rait, opened the meeting with news of the lightning Victorian COVID-19 lockdown, which was formally announced by Premier Daniel Andrews minutes later. 

Within hours, Federal Council unanimously endorsed an urgency motion proposed by Council of Doctors in Training (CDT) chair, Dr Hash Abdeen, urging Victorian authorities and the Royal Australian College of Physicians to regard the RACP exams planned for the following Monday in Melbourne to be regarded as “essential work” to avoid the chaos of cancellation for hundreds of trainees. 

Department of Health Secretary, Professor Brendan Murphy, attended the meeting via Zoom and gave an update on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Aged Care Royal Commission, and the 10-year primary care strategy. 

The meeting also discussed continuing breaches of hotel quarantine and the need for the Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG) to recognise aerosol transmission of COVID-19, and the pros and cons of proposed private quarantine facilities in regional areas. 

Federal Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting an Australian emissions reduction target of net zero by 2050m and a health sector net zero target by 2040. 

Other discussions included: 

  • An update on the TGA the Government’s decision to extend the TGA’s ability to authorise create potential for emergency substitution during serious medicine shortagesof medicines within class, and the protections AMA had secured. 

  • Discussion of expanding the AMA’s Indigenous Scholarship Program in the years ahead. 

  • Concern for doctor and medical student mental health, and opportunities to raise the Doctors Health Service profile. 

  • Holding the 2021 National Conference on-line and opening it up to attendance of all AMA members, in advance of an in person National Conference in 2022 open to all members. 

  • Potential for the Federal Election to be held late in 2021, and discussion of what the AMA’s key election priority should be. 

The Federal Reform Working Group’s potential changes to the composition of Federal Council was also discussed. More work is needed on these options before a formal recommendation for change is ready. 

Federal Council next meets on Saturday, 27 March, from 10am-2pm AEDT by Zoom.