House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Constituency Statements

Cooper, Professor David, AO

10:00 am

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to offer my condolences on the death of Professor David Albert Cooper AO, a great Australian physician, who died on 18 March this year. David's had many accolades bestowed upon him from Australia and overseas. He was head of the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales and a past president of the International AIDS Society. With Professor Ron Penny, David diagnosed the first HIV case in Australia, in 1982, following his experiences in the United States of America. He was also the first to describe HIV transmission during breastfeeding, in 1985, and produced many papers of huge medical importance in immunology and infectious diseases. David led the Australian response to the HIV epidemic and the AIDS epidemic, and I and many others attribute the Australian response, often described as the best in the world, to David's calm, non-judgemental, compassionate and reasoned clinical skills.

I had occasional contact with David over the years in my role as a paediatrician. However, on a recent trip to Thailand and Myanmar with the Global Fund I came to know him on a much more personal level, and I'm very grateful for that experience. David was a proud Jewish Australian who loved his family, and we compared grandparent stories on that trip. He loved his work, his patients and science. He has given much to many organisations here and overseas and will be deeply missed, both here and in many places where he provided ongoing support, such as Thailand and Myanmar. He was revered by everyone on our trip to Thailand and Myanmar. It was amazing, as we went around to the different medical institutes and hospitals, how well he was known and how he was revered, with almost godlike status. His work and his support in these places will continue for many years as one of his legacies.

To David's wife, Dorrie, and his daughters, Becky and Ilana, I offer my sincere condolences. I know how much he cared for them and loved them. To Professor Tony Kelleher and the staff of the Kirby Institute: I know how much you meant to David, and I know your work will continue to honour him in many ways for many years to come. To his wide circle of friends, medical and scientific colleagues, political acquaintances and patients, I say: we should all be grateful for the contact we've had with David and honour his legacy by continuing to support the work he has done and the work that will continue into the future. Thank you.