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Senior medicos contest AMA Presidency

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For the first time in five years there will be a ballot for the AMA Presidency after Vice President Professor Geoffrey Dobb and AMA New South Wales President Associate Professor Brian Owler both nominated for the position.

The vacancy has been created by the imminent departure of current President Dr Steve Hambleton, who is stepping down from the post he has occupied since 2011.

Both Professor Dobb, who is Head of Intensive Care at Royal Perth Hospital, and Associate Professor Owler, who is a Consultant Neurosurgeon at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, are members of the AMA Executive Council.

Professor Dobb has been nominated by former AMA President Dr Mukesh Haikerwal and AMA Queensland President-elect Dr Shaun Rudd, while Associate Professor Owler has been nominated by AMA Council of General Practice Chair Dr Brian Morton and former AMA Queensland President Dr Alex Markwell.

The election for the AMA Presidency will be held on Sunday, 25 May – the third day of the AMA National Conference in Canberra.

The new President will serve for two years if a proposed new Constitution for the AMA is adopted by the AMA Annual General Meeting to be held on the first day of the National Conference, Friday 23 May.

Under the overhauled structure, the operational and corporate compliance responsibilities will be devolved to a governance board, freeing the Federal Council to focus on its prime policy formulation role.

AMA Secretary General Anne Trimmer said the change would allow the AMA to become a more effective and agile organisation, raising the possibility the new-look Federal Council could appoint small working groups and task forces to develop contributions to health policy debates, drawing on the expertise of AMA members as needed.

There will also be a ballot for the position of Vice President, which is the subject of a three-way contest between Brisbane GP Dr Richard Kidd, AMA Victoria President and Emergency Department specialist Dr Stephen Parnis and Victorian anaesthetist Dr Roderick McRae.

Dr Kidd has been nominated by former AMA President and political aspirant Dr Bill Glasson and AMA South Australia President Dr Patricia Montanaro, while Dr Parnis was nominated by Dr Haikerwal and Dr Morton, and Dr McRae was nominated by Dr Gary Speck and Dr Robert Conyers.

It is possible either Professor Dobb or Associate Professor Owler may also join the runoff, as National Conference Standing Orders give unsuccessful President candidates the option to stand for election as Vice President.

While the positions of President and Vice President will be contested, two other Executive Officer posts, Chairman of Council and Treasurer, have been filled without contest.

Ms Trimmer, who is also the AMA Returning Officer, reported that Canberra-based ophthalmologist Dr Iain Dunlop was the sole nominee for Chairman of Council, a position he currently fills, while current AMA Treasurer and anaesthetist Dr Elizabeth Feeney was confirmed in her role uncontested.

While both have been declared elected, their renewed tenure could be exceedingly short – both positions would be made redundant under the proposed new Constitution.

Adrian Rollins