Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy, who famously could not say what a woman was when asked at a Senate Estimates hearing, will retire on July 6.
Murphy served as the nation’s chief medical officer from 2016, and was in charge of health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Minister Mark Butler paid tribute to Professor Murphy for leading the health department during its “biggest public health response in over 100 years”.
“Professor Murphy’s time as secretary was broader than just COVID,” he said.
“He has overseen the start of aged care, mental health, primary care, and health workforce reform.
“I want to thank Professor Murphy for his professionalism and his help in establishing the Health and Aged Care ministerial office for the Albanese government.”
Mr Butler said a “merit-based recruitment process” was under way to find the next health boss.
Opposition health spokeswoman Anne Ruston said had made an “outstanding contribution” to Australia’s health system.
“His expert and steadfast advice at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic guided Australia through the most significant public health challenge in modern history,” she said.
“We know that his influence and leadership will have a lasting impact on Australia’s health and aged care systems.”