Amanda Vanstone the new chair of RFDS's board

FORMER Howard government minister Amanda Vanstone is the new chair of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia's national board.

RFDS National CEO Greg Rochford said Mrs Vanstone was the ideal candidate to guide the national organisation through the next phase in its history as it continues to evolve to meet the needs of regional and remote populations and the surge in demand for services brought about by the mining boom.

The RFDS has a fleet of 61 aircraft operating from 21 bases which service most of Australia, or close to 7 million sq km. Mr Rochford said demand for RFDS services was at an all-time high, with a 26% growth in activity since 2006.

Mrs Vanstone said the RFDS was the "most iconic Australian not for profit".

"It is a great privilege to join this dedicated team. Together with governments around Australia, we want to ensure that our existing extensive infrastructure is used to maximum advantage in delivering the best possible services to remote and regional Australia," Mrs Vanstone said.

Mrs Vanstone's resigned from the Senate in 2007 after 23 years in politics and later served as Australia's ambassador to Italy until 2010.