19 June 2017

I rise to pay tribute to a giant of journalism Mark Colvin. He was one of Australia's most respected journalists.

He was one of the ABC's most prominent and esteemed writers. His voice was familiar to people right across Australia as the voice of ABC radio current affairs program, PM. He had a brilliant mind, which was perfectly suited to analysing international affairs that were often complex and not always the easiest stories to write.

Throughout his life Mark managed to capture the interest of, and was cherished by, his Australian audience. His early stories as a foreign correspondent in Africa were groundbreaking for Australian journalism. His dedication to the role took him into the heart of Africa to cover famine and disease, but also hope and strength in the face of adversity. His dedication to the profession had a personal toll as well. Following the Rwandan genocide, while covering the destitution that was rampant throughout the refugee camps in Zaire, he was diagnosed with a rare inflammation of the blood vessels. Throughout his experiences he raised the profile of the very worthy cause of organ donation.

Mark was respected for his passion and his journalistic vigour. He had a wealth of knowledge on international affairs and policy. He would get the heart of every story. He was a serious journalist and he would demand an audience's attention for every story.

Mark would have excelled in any field of endeavour and at any media outlet, but he chose journalism and he chose the ABC. I firmly believe that that choice took his career to the next level. We should all be thankful that he turned his hand to public interest journalism with our public national broadcaster. He was never pompous or self promoting. He was a revered voice of journalism.

Over many years Mark Colvin became a household name and a name that was raised in conversation right across the nation. Mark Colvin exemplified substantive journalism in his time as a foreign correspondent and in his 20 years presenting PM. In his own words, Mark noted:

I love PM because it has the space to explore a wide range of the day's issues in more details and with more depth than the soundbite sausage-machine.

His professionalism and journalistic prowess were recognised not only by the public, but by scores of other journalists. His integrity shone through in the stories he covered. He is an example of a reminder of the importance of public interest journalism in uncovering stories that need to be told and in telling stories that Australians need to hear.

I pay tribute to Mark Colvin for his vast contribution to Australian journalism spanning more than four decades. When Mark Colvin spoke, Australia listened. We are thankful for his service to Australian journalism and our society as a whole. Vale Mark Colvin.