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A new portfolio for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery has been created in a Federal Government Cabinet shuffle. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has given the responsibility of the portfolio to Warren Snowdon, former Defence Science and Personnel Minister. Warren Snowdon joined nine other Ministers and five parliamentary secretaries in taking up new responsibilities. They were sworn in at a ceremony at Government House in Canberra on 9 June 2009.
Closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is one of the Federal Government's policies and although there are no extra resources for the new Minister, there is hope that the new focus on Indigenous health will pay dividends. Warren Snowdon stated that there is a lot of action going on in this area and it 'gives us an opportunity to address many of the determinants of health in a more comprehensive way by working across portfolios, working in a coordinated way'.
Mr Snowdon is the Federal Member for Lingiari and was previously the Member for Northern Territory. Following the election of the Rudd Government in November 2007, he was appointed as the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel. He previously also served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Communications (1990-2), Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Employment, Education and Training (1992-6), Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment, Sport and Territories (1993-6) and Parliamentary Secretary (Territories) (1993-4). Mr Snowdon commented that personally the creation of the portfolio presents a unique opportunity and a great challenge for which he is very grateful.