Member of the Week - Maree Burke
Born and bred Murwillumbah girl and the eldest of 17 children, Maree is a dedicated National and long-time member of the Murwillumbah Branch, having held just about every position available over the years.
At nearly 80, Maree first became involved with the Nationals in 1954 when she was just 17 years old and we were still the Country Party. Since then, she has worked on campaigns for just about everyone.
From the early campaigns of the 50’s right through to the critical elections for Life Member Don Beck and more recently Thomas George, Maree has always put her hand up to help the Party. She notes the difference between campaigning now and campaigning in the 60s and 70s, when campaigns were often run with just herself in an office, compared to today’s high visual requirements and volunteer force needed to bring awareness to local members and candidates.
Maree has lived on a cattle farm her whole life and has only recently decided to sell her farm, hopefully moving somewhere “I can see the floods – I’m sick of fixing fences!”
Maree is also a horse-lover, and while her horses have all been sold due to her impending move, she still visits them and can call them up individually from the paddock by name.
Not content to just be involved with the Nationals, Maree also volunteers with Palliative Care, providing comfort to locals in nursing homes. She has also been a part of the View and Quota Clubs in her area, and teaches crafts from her home. Her fierce commitment to her community earnt Maree the Electorate Woman of the Year in 2016, presented by Thomas George.
Maree returned to university at the age of 52 to undertake an IT degree at Griffith University. The move was prompted by her need to have a job that would allow her to stay home after she and her husband adopted two of their grandchildren. Maree now teaches computer literacy to older members of the community and continues to build computers – physically constructing and loading software for clients and friends. At 79, her computer literacy is closer to that of a millennial than an almost octogenarian.
Like most Nationals, Maree is concerned about the number of young people joining the Party. While her granddaughter Jess Pedersen is a keen Young Nat, Maree feels young people aren’t drawn to the Party in the way they once were.
Maree considers the Nats to be “like a family” and after a series of sad events, she found it was the Nationals who rallied around her, with support and correspondence also coming from both past and present MPs. She believes it is this aspect that makes The Nationals fundamentally different to the other major parties and proud of who we are.
We wish Maree and her “wonderful” husband Martin well with their impending move and thank her for her continued, unswerving commitment to our great Party.