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Health community rocked by tragic death of Professor Gavin Mooney

THE health community is today mourning the tragic death of health economist Professor Gavin Mooney, whose body was found along with that of his wife Dr Delys Weston at their rural Tasmanian home early yesterday morning.

The couple have been named by police as the two people found allegedly bludgeoned to death at a property in Mountain River, south of Hobart.

Professor Mooney had been a professor of health economics and director of the Social and Public Health Economics Research Group with Curtin University from 2000 until his retirement in 2008.

Along with his many published works, including The Health of Nations, which was released earlier this year, Professor Mooney had been a regular contributor to various health related publications including Medical Observer.

He was also a staunch advocate for community empowerment within health reform and policy debate and led regular citizen’s juries.

Dr Weston had been a visiting scholar at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, and an honorary research associate at the University of Tasmania in the School of Geography and Environmental Science.

Dr Weston's 27-year-old son, Nicolau Francisco Soares, has been charged with two counts of murder.
He did not enter a plea when he appeared in the Hobart Magistrates Court on Thursday and has been remanded in custody.

RACGP president Dr Liz Marles said Professor Mooney had been an inspirational and thought provoking campaigner for health equity, and his premature death was a tragic loss.

“He was an absolute leader in terms of looking at the economics of equity – particularly in relation to Aboriginal health,” Dr Marles told MO.

“His contribution was enormous and I am sure he still had a whole lot more to give - we are just devastated really.”

Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy at the University of Sydney Professor Stephen Leeder – who had been a close friend and colleague of Professor Mooney – said a genuine commitment to improving the health system had underlined his contributions to the health policy debate.

“It is fundamentally as a critic that he will be remembered I believe – he was very passionate about fairness and equity, very strong in his criticism but importantly intelligent in his criticism,” said Professor Leeder.

“He was a communitarian with an intense passion for things and the demeanour of a fierce highlander I always thought.”

AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said Professor Mooney had “challenged existing philosophies and thinking about how we approach health spending when it comes to getting the best value for every dollar allocated in the health system”. “His death is a great loss,” said Dr Hambleton.