As I watched the headlines of the early breakfast news on Thursday morning, a breaking- news flash came across the screen – Mark Colvin has died – and I felt it as a blow! – and it was all too soon after John Clarke’s departure as well.
I had followed Mark’s career with much interest over many years, 40 in fact. My ‘encounter’ with him occurred early in 1977, the year the Fox Commission sat to decide if uranium mining was to go ahead in the Northern Territory. I had volunteered to co-coordinate the recently formed Sydney branch of the Movement against Uranium Mining (MAUM). The Ranger uranium mine was already functioning in Kakadu national park and another nine were applying to join in the bonanza.
MAUM began its life in my living room at Balmain until Milo Dunphy who ran the Total Environment Centre at the Rocks, (another person I came to admire), offered us free office space there, but getting media publicity for the cause was challenging and the CEO’s of the mining companies were grabbing the headlines.
I looked around for help and thought of Mark Colvin (only 25 at the time, I’ve calculated) who was already regarded as a journo. with influence. I bravely decided to ask to see him in his ABC office to make a case for more media recognition and co-operation re press releases etc.
He agreed with reluctance, which didn’t surprise, as it was early days and we were thought of, if at all, as a bunch of suburban housewives and not to be taken too seriously.
When I arrived he didn’t make it too easy for me at the beginning. I still remember the ‘let’s get this over quickly, I’m a busy man’ look, but he did listen and it was a relief to watch his attitude change, and he agreed to help where he could, and proved to be as good as his word. thanks to his lead amongst other things, more outlets including radio, began to come to us for ‘comments’ as well and we were soon up and running.
We maintained a good campaign for the whole year – each working day during school hours I would spend in our busy little office. Finally, the Commission made its finding against the mines and though it had been a tough year but all worth while and a great experience, and I now felt it was time to step back and find me a ‘real well remunerated Job’ once I’d recuperated. Life intervened and 1978 saw me launch into natural therapies instead.
I have enjoyed writing this ‘good media story’ so thank you Mark and rest well.