Member of the Week - Pam Callachor
Born in Narrabri and spending most of her life in the Wee Waa region, Pam first became involved with the then Country Party while studying in Tamworth. Ever since Pam has been a lifelong supporter and member as the Secretary for both the Wee Waa Branch and Barwon SEC for many years.
After years of involvement Pam believes that, despite the challenges, the Nationals will continue as a steady beacon for politics and political engagement in difficult political times.
Once she finished school at PLC in Armidale, Pam moved to Tamworth and got her first job with the South British Insurance Company. Moving back to Wee Waa to be with her unwell mother, Pam started working for Namoi Cotton first as a receptionist, before becoming the personal secretary for the General Manager, John Howes. It was the era when cotton first started to take hold as a booming industry for the region and where she met her late husband Terry.
After a brief stint in Kunanurra in the early 70s, they returned to NSW before heading back to Wee Waa with their two young children and welcomed their third son Damien, who became an active Young National.
Working part-time in real estate, Pam’s enthusiasm for local issues and commitment to the National Party was recognised by the then Member for Barwon Ian Slack-Smith. Pam went on to be an electorate officer for 12 years for “Slacky”. She then ran Kevin Humphries' Wee Waa electorate office for 18 months while he trained and established another base at Narrabri. After close to 15 years working as an electorate officer, Pam say she has retired, however the list of community groups in which she plays an active role rather negates that claim.
Currently, Pam is part of the Wee Waa Chamber of Commerce, the Wee Waa Hospital Auxiliary and the Local Health Advisory Committee. She is the Secretary of the Weeronga Aged Care Committee and a member of the Medical Centre Committee – a centre built thanks to money secured by former Nationals Leader John Anderson.
The state of politics now Pam feels is “pretty tough”. Parliamentarians are under constant scrutiny and observation thanks to the advent of smart phones, with the media cycle making their roles feel relentless. Politics has polarised, with less balance in the system. Pam feels that the drift towards splinter groups is due to people no longer having much of an idea about what policy actually is, let alone how long it takes to craft thorough policy positions.
As a girl from the Far West and former Barwon electorate officer, she thinks the size of country electorates are “crazy”, and would like to see more emphasis on restricting or reducing their sizes.
The rise of confrontational politics has also made polling days harder on individuals, with Pam hoping to see electronic polling rolled out. When it comes to re-engaging the youth, Pam recalls her early days in the Country Party, where the younger members focussed more on social events than formalities and would like to see more such events run for young people who might want to be involved in the Party in a more casual manner.
After nearly a lifetime in Wee Waa, Pam is preparing to sell up and move closer to her eldest sons, both of whom live in Toowoomba, to be closer to her five grandchildren.
IMAGE: Pam with Phil Armytage at the Cotton Seed Distributors Ltd Wee Waa 50th Anniversary Dinner. Phil is the late Virginia Armytage's son. Virginia was Chairman of the Castlereagh Women's Nationals Branch and a legendary supporter of the Nationals.