“Lovechild of COAG”: Jane Halton resigns from public service

The longest-serving secretary of the federal Department of Health, Jane Halton, has resigned from the Australian public service, two years after taking up a job as secretary of the Department of Finance.

According to The Mandarin, her former deputy at Health, Rosemary Huxtable, who has been serving as Ms Halton's deputy at Finance, will act in the role from October 15 until a permanent replacement is appointed.

Ms Halton spent 12 years as head of the health department, only the second woman to be appointed as a department head, and served between 2002 and 2014. She got the job at the age of 42 after a controversial period at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, where she headed former prime minister John Howard's people smuggling taskforce, which was implicated in the notorious children overboard affair.

An expert in aged care, at Health Ms Halton oversaw several eHealth initiatives under ministers such as Tony Abbott and Nicola Roxon, the former having set up the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) and the latter the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR).

Ms Halton memorably described NEHTA as “the lovechild of COAG” at the 2012 Health Informatics Conference in Brisbane, where she gave an extensive interview to Pulse+IT a month after the PCEHR went live.

In a statement today, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Ms Halton had made an enormous contribution in public life both nationally and internationally and had been a leader for women in the public sector.

Posted in Movers and shakers

Tags: PCEHR, NEHTA, Jane Halton

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