This paper offers lessons to in-coming health ministers on how they can act to reduce inequities and take action on social determinants. It draws on an interview study of twenty former Australian State, Territory and Federal health ministers about the extent to which they were able to do these things during their tenure. In order to take effective health equity action the health ministers advised: ensure evidence is used to develop a strong party policy platform for health equity; install policy entrepreneurs for health equity and social determinants in the health ministry; build popular constituencies through processes of deliberative democracy; establish context appropriate cross-department mechanisms to co-ordinate action on social determinants; and be elected in the context of a political party which values social justice and redistribution.
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