Like other countries, Australia is looking to reforms in the primary health care sector to meet the growing demand for care. Expansion of the role of practice nurses (PNs) is one way in which this demand may be met. To date the Federal Australian government has played a significant role in encouraging growth in the PN workforce. If PNs tend to be GP directed, with little autonomy, care must be taken to consider whether to expand existing scopes of practice. In contrast, if PNs rely on their own independent clinical judgment and skill, this would support potential expansions to the scope of the PN role. Understanding these issues is important to inform the development of future workforce policy. This paper examines the structural policy dimensions within which these changes are occurring, and makes recommendations for future research on PNs.