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Royal Commissioners Richard Tracey and Lynelle Briggs arrive to the first public hearing in the federal government's Royal Commission for Aged Care Quality and Safety at the Roma Mitchell Commonwealth Law Court Building in Adelaide, Friday, January 18, 2019

Aged care royal commission chair Richard Tracey dies

Aged care royal commission chair Richard Tracey has died aged 71.

In a statement, the commission said that Tracey died on Friday 11 October after a short illness. Tracey died in California where he was receiving treatment for cancer diagnosed seven weeks earlier.

Commissioner Lynelle Briggs described Tracey’s death as a “complete shock” and paid tribute to a “wise” man.

“[Commissioner Tracey] was experienced. He was wise. He was admired. He knew the law like the back of his hand. He was prepared to take a punt if it meant we got the best outcome.

“His kind words to our witnesses after their presentations gave them comfort and let them know that they had been heard. His gentle guidance and direction to royal commission staff always helped and made our collective lives so much easier.”

Tracey was a judge of the Federal Court of Australia from 2006 until 2018, president of the Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal from 2009 until 2018, and judge advocate general of the Australian Defence Force from 2007 until 2014.

Prior to becoming a judge, Tracey taught law in a number of academic roles and worked as a barrister, being appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1991. He also served in the Australian Army from 1975 until 2014, achieving the rank of Major-General.

The new chair of the royal commission, Tony Pagone, said of Tracey that his work on this commission has been “solid, selfless and significant”.

Peter Rozen, senior counsel assisting the royal commission, described Tracey as a “fundamentally decent human being whose passing is keenly felt by the counsel assisting, Office of Solicitor Assisting teams and all staff of the aged care royal commission”.

Tracey is survived by his wife Hilary, and their children: Jack, Philip, Fiona and Rosie.

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