Breakups can be hard to get over. But when Opposition Leader Tony Abbott dumped Louise Markus from the front bench in 2010, it was the best thing that could have happened to her.
In the aftermath of this six-year relationship turned sour, Markus shifted her focus to what really drives her: helping others. And it is this determination that makes this community crusader respected and admired by so many.
Blue Mountains Mayor, Daniel Myles, has nothing but kind words to say about the woman who represents his district.
“Louise has been on the ground and taken interest in a lot of things that are important to us. I’m very happy with her energy levels and enthusiasm,” says Miles.
The energy and enthusiasm that Markus brings to her political endeavours, as well as sympathy for people in tough situations make her the perfect representative for Macquarie.
‘‘There are day-to-day challenges that confront people and a little bit of compassion goes a long way,” Markus told the Hawksberry Gazette.
More comfortable talking to every-day people than those in a boardroom, Markus spends a significant amount of time in the public eye talking to Macquarie residents about their lives and their troubles.
“She’s got a care for people. She works hard to make sure she knows who everyone is and doesn’t forget what their issues are,” says Myles.
“I would say she’s most focused on the details of issues such as homelessness,” adds Myles. And the issue of homelessness in Markus’s electorate – as well as those nearby – is what prompted her to help create Project 40.
Project 40 is a cross council, cross electorate, local, state and federal approach to dealing with homelessness with the aim of helping people out of negative environments and giving them the ability to make sound decisions about their lives.
Not only focused on combating homelessness, Markus is also dedicated to fighting for local road safety, improved public transport, better services at local hospitals and improved water quality.
Markus’s care and passion for helping others can be traced back to her previous career. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of NSW, worked as a senior social worker for the Department of Social Security and was a Manager of Family Support Services at Wesley Mission. Since being elected into Parliament in 2004, Markus’s benevolence has not vanished.
“My previous career brought me in close contact with the community. It showed me that not everybody has it easy and reminded me that many people, through no fault of their own, get a tough deal in life and need a bit help and understanding,” says Markus on the Liberal Party website.
Myles agrees that Markus’s kindness and understanding is evident in her work, commenting that, “she make[s] sure people don’t fall through the cracks. She has made the effort to get out and about and meet people.”
A big believer in the concept of ‘love thy neighbour’, Markus is not only determined to help others herself, but wants to instil that attitude in the people of Macquarie, using national R U OK? Day to spread the message of kindness.
“Whilst [people] do need to learn to speak up about their issues, we also need to learn to ask questions when we suspect something is wrong.
“So I ask everyone in Macquarie to sit down with someone, have a coffee and ask ‘Are You OK?’” said Markus in a 2012 press release.
This attitude is one that the people of Macquarie obviously like, proven by the margin she won the seat by in 2010 – a whopping 14.82%. Myles is not surprised by this figure, remarking, “no matter what level or what party you’re in…she likes to get to know everyone.”
Markus’s ethos is clearly rubbing off on her political colleagues, with Myles doing all he can he assist his leader.
“We want to help her obviously, so I’ve made the offer for her to use our council meeting rooms so that she can conveniently meet with other politicians from far away,” he says.
Myles is also grateful that the woman he has to work so closely with is also easy to get along with, adding that she’s, “funny and engaging and she likes to have a laugh”.
This inviting persona may be a refreshing trait in a political figure, however, Markus has made it very clear about her goals and desired achievements whilst in parliament.
“Protecting our way of life has been my priority since being elected to parliament in 2004. By developing and delivering programmes that provide opportunities for our young people, I believe we can secure an even brighter future for our local community,” Markus told the Blue Mountains Gazette.
A brighter future and a stronger economy is exactly where the electorate of Macquarie is heading with Markus as their leader. A leader whose kindness and compassion assist her to connect with the community, help those is need and develop policies that reflect the desires of the people.
Respected by her colleagues, admired by the public and held in esteem by her community, Louise Markus is clearly in politics to help others and do so in a manner that makes them feel valued – and to think, all this happened because Tony Abbott dumped her.
This article is part of our ongoing Backbench Insiders series, you can find the full list articles here.
Alice Piper is a second-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University. Follow her on Twitter: @PiperAlice