Sadly, the Blacktown community recently lost one of our own. Affectionately known as the 'Mayor of Mount Druitt', Charlie Lowles dedicated both his public and private life to the residents of the Blacktown local government area.
First elected to Blacktown City Council in 1989, Charlie served his community with pride and passion until retiring at the council's elections held on 10 September this year.
Throughout his service on Blacktown council, Charlie was mayor on three separate occasions. He served as deputy mayor and was conferred the title of emeritus mayor.
I had the honour of serving with Charlie on council when I was a councillor and deputy mayor during the period 2004 to 2008. During this time, Charlie always passionately and respectfully advocated for his beloved Ward 5 constituents. He served them with every fibre of his being.
As the news filtered through of his passing on Sunday 30 October, more and more people came out to thank Charlie for his service and to express their deep sorry at losing a dear friend. He touched so many lives and treated everyone fairly and respectfully. I am sure that not only his former constituents are feeling his loss today but also the many staff of Blacktown City Council and members of the numerous community groups he worked with for so many years.
We often hear words like stalwart, dedicated and passionate. Charlie was the epitome of these words. His love of Blacktown city and Mount Druitt in particular shone through in everything he did. He not only spoke affectionately of the area; he also spoke fondly of its people. He loved Mount Druitt, and Mount Druitt loved him. It did not matter who you were or where you were from, Charlie would affectionately refer to you as 'Kiddo'—myself included. His lovable nature made him a popular fixture at councils events and branch functions.
In 2013, Charlie was awarded the Order of Australia medal for his service to his community. Never one to take credit or be boastful about his achievements, he said at the time: 'It is Mount Druitt's people who have been part and parcel of my journey.'
During his tenure on council, Charlie was fundamental in several wins for the local area, including the Mount Druitt library, Mount Druitt Swimming Centre, basketball courts and the Emerton Leisure Centre and Emerton Youth Recreation Centre.
I remember being at the opening of the Emerton Leisure Centre some years ago and someone made a passing reference to whether Mount Druitt deserved such a fantastic facility. Well that was a red rag to Charlie's bull. Parliamentary rules do not permit me to quote his response other than to say that it left nothing to imagination.
It is very sad that Charlie did not get to enjoy a lengthy retirement after so many years in public service. Outside of politics, he was a proud Korean war veteran and a staunch Everton Football Club supporter. He migrated to Australia in the early 1960s and settled in Blackett, a suburb he called home and loved so dearly.
This is the man we will miss so dearly, the 'Mayor of Mount Druitt'. Charlie will be laid to rest at his beloved Holy Family Catholic Church in Emerton this Wednesday.
Vale, Charlie Lowles.