The Life and Times of Ray Evans

Patrick Morgan pens this tribute to Ray Evans:

The political campaigner, Ray Evans, formally known as N.R. Evans, died on Tuesday evening, July 17, after collapsing the previous Sunday and lapsing into a coma. Best known for his dry economic  views, he boasted a diverse group of friends and acquaintances who inhabited interlocking networks, many of which Ray created.

In the early Sixties, Ray was part of a loose grouping that included Brian Buckley, Paddy O’Brien, John Kiely, Bob Browning and Bob Murray — people in their mid-twenties who were doing late courses or still mixing in university circles. At this stage Ray was a young working engineer who ran an open house on weekends in his large and rambling abode in North Carlton. He and his first wife, Marion, had a young family with lots of children. People with political and affiliated interests would drop by to chat in a relaxed way about their current passions, Barry Jones among the regulars. Many of Ray’s guests were centre-right members of the ALP and keen to dislodge the dominant-but-unrepresentative Bill Hartley-Socialist Left cabal, a necessary pre-condition for Labor gaining office at federal and state level.

Though a graduate engineer, Ray became a member of the Fuel & Fodder Workers Union so he could participate as a delegate at annual ALP and Trades Hall conferences. But when the Federal ALP Member for Wills, Captain S. Benson, was expelled by the Hartley clique, Ray pulled up stumps on the ALP and, as it turned out, on a party political career. He formed a breakaway group to helpBenson’s successful 1966 bid to retain his seat as an independent. This was, I think, the first of many organisations Ray formed as the need arose. Read more