Illawarra Labor Members of Parliament have today joined the community in mourning the death of Labor Party stalwart, Colin Markham.
Mr Markham passed away over the weekend surrounded by family.
Colin served the people of the Illawarra with distinction.
He was the first Member for Keira, serving three terms in the New South Wales Parliament, winning the marginal seat in 1988 by the smallest of margins.
His hard work and dedication to the local community saw him re-elected in 1991 and 1995 with increased margins at those elections.
In 1999 Colin was elected the Member for Wollongong and served until his retirement in 2003.
His well-regarded grassroots political ability saw him appointed to serve as Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra from 1999 to 2003.
He was celebrated in the Indigenous community of the Illawarra, South Coast and New South Wales, and was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Aboriginal Affairs from 1995 to 1999.
In this role, he was instrumental in the delivery of the NSW Parliament’s historic apology to Indigenous Australians in 1997 - the first apology of any State Parliament in Australia - the process of reconciliation, land rights, and the Carr Government’s Statement of Commitment to Aboriginal People.
His strong and enduring commitment to Indigenous Australians continued throughout the remainder of his life.
Colin was a trade union stalwart, an electrical fitter working in Illawarra coal mines, and first joined the Labor Party in 1975 on the day Gough Whitlam was dismissed as Prime Minister. He was awarded Labor Party Life Membership in 2017.
He was a tireless advocate of the region’s sporting community, particularly rugby league and served on the board of the Illawarra Steelers, and was Chairman of the Illawarra Steelers’ Injured Players Fund.
Colin played a key role in the development of the University of Wollongong and was awarded a Fellow on 30 July 2003.
We extend our deepest condolences to Colin’s wife Melissa, without whose dedicated love and support his service and achievements would not have been possible, and to his three sons and grandchildren.
Colin Markham was a Parliamentary colleague of tremendous integrity and friend to all of us.
He will be greatly missed by all Labor Party members, supporters and the Illawarra community.