Son charged with professor’s murder

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A SCOTTISH academic regarded by colleagues as the “father of health economics” has been found bludgeoned to death with his partner in their Tasmania home.

Police in Australia said retired Professor Gavin Mooney, 69, and Dr Delys Weston, 62, were found with “severe blunt-force trauma to the head”.

A 27-year-old man, reported to be Dr Weston’s son from a previous relationship, has been charged with their murder.

Prof Mooney and Dr Weston were found in their home in the Mountain River area of Tasmania, about 30 minutes’ drive south of Hobart, on Wednesday, after the man later charged with their murder called police.

The couple had reportedly moved to the island from western Australia to enjoy semi-
retirement in September 2011 and were contributing to “social justice” in Tasmania.

Praise for the Glasgow-born, North Berwick-raised scholar poured in from Australia, and a spokeswoman for Aberdeen University, where he once worked, described him as a “true hero of public health”.

Prof Mooney was a leading figure studying how health systems are funded, advocating more equity for Aboriginal health and pushing for “citizens’ juries” as a democratic way to set spending priorities.

Australian Green senator Richard De Natale said: “As a doctor and public health professional, I followed Professor Mooney’s work with great interest and after entering the senate I discussed with him some of the challenges facing Australia’s health system.

“He was known around the world as the father of health economics but his contribution to public health did not end there. He was a powerful voice on the social determinants of health, on indigenous health and on the impact of doctor shortages in Australia and in developing countries.”

Born in 1943, Prof Mooney was the youngest of three siblings and went to North Berwick High, where his father was a maths teacher.

He graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MA honours in economics after training as an actuary at Standard Life in Edinburgh. He worked in health economics at the University of Aberdeen from 1974 to 1986, and again from 1991 to 1993.

He worked in Denmark, New Zealand and finally the universities of Sydney and Perth, where he became instrumental in finding more democratic ways to set priorities in the health system.

An Aberdeen University spokeswoman said: “Professor Mooney was an inspiration to many health economists, both at Aberdeen and further afield. He was internationally acclaimed for his work, his passion and his commitment to achieving equality for minority and oppressed groups. He will be sadly missed.”

Justin Mohamed, chairman of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, said: “[Gavin] championed our call for the need for greater recognition in the funding of Aboriginal health services acknowledging that since Aboriginal health as a construct is holistic then so, too, should be the services to address Aboriginal ill health.”