Doug Everingham (right) was the Federal Member for Capricornia twice.
Doug Everingham (right) was the Federal Member for Capricornia twice. Contributed

OPINION: 'Esperanto' loving MP left mark on nation

MICHELLE Gately as always did a great job of accurately reporting my recollections of former Capricornia MP Doug Everingham but an unfortunate sub slip it seems attributed a comment that he was a "mentor” to me rather than the other spokesperson.

Just for the record my mentors were my parents and the late Tom Burns, a lifelong friend and former Labor Deputy Premier. My childhood was ripe with political activism from my parents who were involved in causes from World Peace to the Rockhampton Housewives Association a consumer lobby group. Labor Party social functions at the Park Avenue ALP Hall which burned down after a Party Christmas function invoke fond memories as do regular visits and stays at our home by leading union and Labor figures of the time. I learnt at a very young age that if you wanted to change something you had to fight for it. I learnt that politicians made laws that affected everyone from the day they were born until the day they die and thereafter eg laws re: disputing wills. My parents were widely read self-educated experts on Labor history which inspired me to follow suit although I doubt I can ever get to their standard. I think I am the only ex delegate of Doug Everingham's Federal District Executive still on this mortal coil and recall his in-depth reports to that body at the quarterly meetings held in various places in the electorate like Biloela, Gladstone and Mt Morgan. He was well versed in philosophy amongst other things and even named the family home in honor of 19th century philosopher. He was our family doctor before he entered Parliament and I believe he had significant expertise in psychiatry and psychology. He was a very deep thinker and sometimes awkward in public because of it. A confirmed non-drinker and anti-smoker because he said he had seen what those drugs did to people he nevertheless did not lecture others who did but at a time when the great majority of politicians imbibed in one or the other or both it was again a point of difference.

His absolute commitment to the introduction of the international language, Esperanto underpinned his world peace objective as he reasoned that if people could communicate in a universal language there it would bring nations together. I think he must have had some influence at Rocky High where his children went to school because there were lunchtime instructions available for those I treated in Esperanto, I tried and failed. However Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was not impressed when the good Doc wrote as Health Minister to him in the language. Esperanto is basically a phonetically inspired language with no regard to conventional spelling or grammatical rules and Whitlam, unable to comprehend the contents wrote in the margin, "Everingham you are mad M-A D.” A humorous footnote, an intensely private and humble man who shunned the trappings of office and left his mark upon this region and the entire nation with Medibank which was the precursor to Medicare which has changed millions of lives for the better.

Robert Schwarten


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