Former PwC advisor named new Secretary of Health

2 minute read

There’s no escaping the spectre of that consultancy, it seems, as an economist takes over as DoHAC’s top mandarin.

Blair Comley, an economist and former special advisor with PwC, has been named as the new Secretary of the Department of Health and Aged Care. 

His five-year appointment, taking over from Professor Brendan Murphy AC, begins on 17 July. 

Between 2011 and 2013, Mr Comley was Secretary of the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. 

He then led the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet as Secretary between 2014 and 2017. 

Mr Comley is currently a director and partner at EY Port Jackson Partners, a “strategy-focused consultancy advising leaders of business and government”. 

In September 2013, after then Prime Minister Tony Abbott was sworn in, Mr Comley was sacked, along with two other department secretaries, and was then hired by PwC in April 2014 as a special advisor to the company’s Canberra economics and policy team.  

By September of 2014 he had been appointed head of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet. 

In January 2012 Mr Comley was awarded a Public Service Medal for “outstanding public service in the development of public policy, particularly in the areas of carbon pricing and emissions trading, tax policy design and debt management”. 

“With his strong economic qualifications and proven leadership navigating complex issues, Mr Comley will bring innovation and policy rigour to addressing the challenges and opportunities within our health system,” said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese when making the announcement of his new appointment today. 

“On behalf of my government, I thank Professor Murphy for his service to Australia’s health sector, as Chief Medical Officer since 2016 and as Secretary of the Department of Health since 2020. 

“Professor Murphy’s service during the covid-19 global pandemic kept Australians safe. I wish him well as he embarks on his well-deserved retirement.” 

Health Minister Mark Butler welcomed the news of the appointment. 

“Mr Comley has a wealth of experience and a record of proven leadership navigating complex issues,” Mr Butler said. 

PwC’s Australian affiliate is subject to a police investigation for allegedly misusing confidential government tax information for commercial gain.

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