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12 Jun 2018


Another National Conference come and gone and with it the election of the next President and Vice President of your AMA. Dr Tony Bartone (President) and Dr Chris Zappala (Vice President) take up their positions as the incoming leaders for the next two years. As the first GP President for four years, Dr Bartone has outlined his commitment to working in the interests of general practice and its patients, especially on the issues that are highly relevant to general practice such as access to mental health care, and access to aged care.

National Conference was a great success. The Standing Orders of Conference were amended on day one to allow all AMA member delegates to participate in, and vote on, the business of the Conference excluding the election of President and Vice President, which is reserved to the appointed delegates.

The afternoon of day one brought together a panel of six past Presidents of the AMA, interviewed by the most recent President, Dr Michael Gannon. The past Presidents reflected on the big political issues of their time – ranging from the medical indemnity crisis of the early 2000s to e-health and scope of practice boundary disputes with pharmacists.

Day two of Conference was spent in debate on a number of policy motions that had been brought forward from the Councils of Federal Council and some State AMA Councils. The policy motions were wide-ranging and at times controversial. Delegates debated the benefits of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation device; the condemnation of inappropriate billing practices such as split bills and booking fees; the role of doctors in dispensing pharmaceutical or other therapeutic products; and the value, or otherwise, of prevocational research in contrast with clinical experience in the training pathway.

Day three brought the elections after a soapbox session when delegates put forward their views to colleagues on a number of issues. Given the large number of candidates for election in 2018, a number of briefings by candidates were held throughout the Conference to inform delegates before the final vote.

For the Federal Secretariat, the change in President is a little like a change of Government. The Secretariat does not know in advance who the incoming President or Vice President will be, or the focus of their election manifesto. It is a reflection of the professionalism of the Secretariat that the new President is promptly and comprehensively briefed in the days following the election and work continues uninterrupted.

National Conference also brings with it a changeover in the Board and Federal Council. I have previously announced the declared and elected positions on Council. I am pleased to welcome Dr Rosanna Capolingua and Dr Danielle McMullen to the Board. They take the place of Prof Geoff Dobb and Dr Elizabeth Feeney, respectively. Drs Dobb and Feeney have been long-time contributors to Federal and State AMAs and played a key role in the transition to the new governance structure in 2014. On behalf of members I thank them for their service.

Published: 12 Jun 2018