Dr. David Michael Madew, AM, Queanbeyan's first popularly elected mayor, died last weekend. He will be remembered for his pivotal role in shaping the modern city.
Dr. Madew served as an alderman from 1963 to 1991, and as mayor of Queanbeyan from 1981 to 1991. He was re-elected twice, each time with an increased majority - a testament to his popularity and civic leadership.
In his 23 years as alderman and mayor, he helped guide Queanbeyan City through a period of almost unprecedented growth and prosperity, the Queanbeyan Age wrote in 1991. "His most significant achievement as mayor was to take Queanbeyan from a provincial city to a regional growth centre, with closer working relations between Queanbeyan and Canberra, for the benefit of both, thanks to his dogged vision."
The current mayor, Cr Tim Overall, paid tribute to his predecessor. "Dr. Madew made a significant contribution to the Queanbeyan community during his life, both as an elected representative and through his Queanbeyan-based medical practice.
Dr. Madew studied medicine at Sydney University, then set up as a GP in Queanbeyan in 1964.
Dr. Madew was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1987 for service to local government. The citation praised his dedicated and effective civic leadership, campaigning to develop the city and improve the lifestyle for its people. Queanbeyan grew from a country town to a busy provincial city, thanks to Dr. Madew's effort and dedication, Alderman Hope Marland, AM, MBE, said at Dr. Madew's gala testimonial dinner in 1991.
During his mayoralty, Riverside Plaza (Queanbeyan's major shopping centre), the Queanbeyan Bicentennial Community Centre, the Airport International Motor Inn and Convention Centre, and the Queanbeyan Tigers permanent club house were built. The city's boundaries were extended. Residential development began in South Queanbeyan and Jerrabombera, and building standards raised. The city was greened through park and garden and beautification projects.
This boom period was followed by austere financial times, Cr Overall said; interest rates soared to 17 per cent, and the community experienced a recession in 1990/91. "Mayor David Madew helped steer the Queanbeyan Council through these very difficult times with the implementation of sound financial policies and measures," Cr Overall said.
The AM citation also lauded Dr. Madew's impressive record of community benefit work, promoting and campaigning for welfare and youth programs, and for needy and disadvantaged families.
His community service began with the Rotary Club of Queanbeyan, when he was still a young doctor. "This opened avenues of involvement in community service, benefit and betterment programs," Jim Woods, OAM, then-managing director of Queanbeyan Publishing Company, said in 1991. Dr. Madew was also involved with the YMCA, the Senior Citizens' movement, and the Salvation Army.
Speaking at Dr. Madew's retirement dinner in 1991, solicitor John Nutt ((on behalf of the Queanbeyan and District Law Society) praised the mayor's character.
"He has honesty, he is trusted by all. He has integrity, a man prepared to take difficult and unpopular decisions. He has credibility - he is in touch with the people he represents. These are the foundations of trust.
"Perhaps his greatest strength has been that of leadership... David is a team player who consults widely, he is approachable so that people feel they have had a fair hearing, he delegates where appropriate, and he has an ability to motivate people. This is fired by a deep faith and belief in the future of Queanbeyan. He has great determination, and I have never seen him lose his temper.
"David, you leave Queanbeyan a far better place than when you found it. The people of Queanbeyan owe you a great debt."
Dr. Madew and his first wife Barbara (now deceased) had five children. He remarried.
On behalf of Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, Cr Overall extended his sympathies to the family. Council will consider an official notice of condolence at its meeting on Wednesday, April 22.
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