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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
With Mike Daube approaching his fourth decade (or is it the fifth? No one is alive to bear witness) as a public health warrior, we asked many varied souls who have worked with him about their views of the short, loud and extraordinarily persistent champion of the public good. One theme dominated. “Mike Daube drives me nuts!” was the response of a former State Health Minister. “No matter what time of the day or night, I’d get phone calls, briefings, meeting requests, or I’d hear his voice on the radio. ‘Do more on tobacco; clean up the liquor industry; give people the chance to live a longer and healthier life.’ The man was relentless. Effective, but relentless. I still have ‘Mikemares’.”“Mike Daube drives me nuts…” muttered the Chair of the National Taskforce on Chronic Disease Prevention Strategies. “Here I am working away clearing the backlog on Saturday night. You know – those emails that need a quick one-way answer. And I send one off to Mike, thinking I could put that one to bed and move on. But then straight comes a reply, with an even better idea of how we could push for even more reform. If I thought it couldn’t happen, I could just dismiss it. But not only is it a good idea, it just might work. However it means me pushing the Commonwealth even harder. Ah yes! Midnight Mike – a public health hero indeed! But does that man have an off switch?”
“Mike Daube drives me nuts!” says pretty much anyone who we contacted who works with or for the tobacco or alcohol industry. Not much else from them was publishable. Enough said! “Mike Daube drives me nuts!” said a well-credentialed health journalist. “I have a backlog of about six story ideas he has sent my way for next week and the deadline for today’s story is looming. My Chief of Staff is asking if I should find another source for this one. But I know the good Professor provides timely quotable material that I struggle to get elsewhere. And his connections are frighteningly good. Mike Daube is a force of nature that cannot be ignored – and he is always so bloody chirpy.” “Mike Daube drives me nuts!” said a former AMA president. “He got more media than I did and my mates tell me he even sounds like he knows what he is talking about. They don’t seem to say the same about me. Seriously – how OLD is that guy anyway?”
“Mike Daube drives me nuts!” was the cry from the unnamed neighbor. “He is up at 5am, stumbles around in the dark, knocking over bins to collect the papers. He tells me he writes a daily summary for his nearest and dearest of the main stories in the newspaper with a focus on all things health, and emails it by 5.30am. Fifteen minutes later, I can hear his phone going and then I hear him laughing and joking with journalists from around the country. But he is always so nice about it and occasionally sends me quite obscure jokes. I don’t have the heart to tell him I don’t understand them – he seems so excited about everything he does.”
“Mike Daube drives me nuts!” said the suburban GP. “Once he gets his teeth into an issue it is all over the front page of the paper and the patients file in quoting him or asking questions about his campaign. You have got to admire the man’s tenacity. And I have to say he often says things out loud that I’ve been thinking for some time. I’m glad someone is doing it so I hope he continues to. More power to him! He makes points that I often bring into my conversation with patients – on alcohol, and unhealthy food more recently – and on smoking for about
30 years.” “Mike Daube drives me nuts!” was the utterance of one of his closest colleagues. “He has a frighteningly close eye for detail and exhorts us to take on the biggest battles – completely undaunted. Control freak isn’t the start of it! But the problem is that most of the time he turns out to be right. I don’t know what we will do if he decides to hang up the boots.” So there you have it: Mike Daube drives everybody nuts. But long may it be so!
Terry Slevin’s disclaimer: All of the above quotes are a work of fiction.
But I bet I could – if pushed – find someone to put them on the record!