Television presenter David Koch has resigned as Chairman of the Organ and Tissue Authority Advisory Council in protest over the Government’s handling of a review into organ donation.
Koch slammed Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash, who has ordered an investigation because transplant rates “have not increased as quickly as intended”.
On Channel Seven’s Sunrise this morning, Koch defended progress on donation rates as “world-class” and told the Minister to “get a backbone”.
Watch the video here:
“You didn’t even ring me as chairman of the Advisory Council to get my view or even tell me it’s coming,” he said.
“Obviously I’ve got no choice but to resign from the position and actively counter the tripe dished out by a whole bunch of rich lobbyists that just talk and do nothing.”
Koch accused the Government of caving into the pressure from lobby group, ShareLife, which has criticised reforms of Australia’s organ and tissue donation system.
A spokeswoman for ShareLife said: “We’re disappointed that Kochie has chosen to attack people rather than sticking to the facts.
“We do have a vested interest in an inquiry — we think Australians need to know why our organ donation rate is so low, after so much money has been invested to turn it round.”
The Government said the number of people whose organs were donated when they died was 12.1 per million people in 2008, but had only risen to 16.1 per million last year.
A beautiful advertisement for organ donation has just been released. Watch it here:
"Both Coalition and Labor federal governments have made a significant investment in improving Australia's organ transplant rate," Ms Nash said.
"We're seeing relatively slow progress over the last six years, I have had some concerns and thought we needed to have a look at this."
The Ernst and Young review of the donation and transplantation program will start next month and focus on the Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA).
The OTA has welcomed the review and said it "presents an opportunity to identify how the reform is progressing and opportunities for improvement".
Former PM Kevin Rudd tweets his support:
It also said Australia's donation rate had increased significantly since 2009, from a low base.
Opposition Health spokesman Stephen Jones said David Koch's resignation was a "terrible loss".
"This speaks of a dysfunctional relationship between the Minister and the Authority of which she is responsible for," Mr Jones said.
"In the first full year of the Abbott Government organ and tissue donation rates fell by 3 per cent after rising for four straight years."
The ABC has approached Senator Nash's office for comment about David Koch's resignation.
Watch Mia Freedman's interview with David Koch here:
This story originally appeared on the ABC and has been republished here.