Fourth time lucky for Mark?

State Labor candidate Mark Denham with Mick de Brenni.

Fay Knight

It’s not uncommon for candidates with winning form to run again for the seat of Noosa in state elections – the incumbent, Independent Sandy Bolton is running for her third term, and the LNP’s Glen Elmes won four terms before being defeated in 2017 by Sandy.

But repeat ALP candidate Mark Denham, who was announced by Mick de Brenni on 9 June, holds a two-decade record, according to available results from the Electoral Commission of Queensland, for the most unsuccessful attempts, having lost in 2015, 2017 and 2020.

His wife of three decades, Tracey, jokingly says he’s mad, but Mark is not worried.

“I’m running again for a strong voice in our community,” explains Mark, 62, a paramedic who has lived in the area with his family for the past 35 years.

“Working as a paramedic, there’s nothing I haven’t seen. I know the worst things that can happen to people and I’ve dealt with it, over and over. I see how issues in the community affect people every year.

Aside from dealing with some of the most distressing days in people’s lives, Mark has also had better times at work, delivering 13 babies, including twins.

“They were my first delivery, and one was breech,” Mark recalls.

On a more shocking note, Mark has also experienced violent attacks while attempting to treat patients.

“Fortunately, I started martial arts at eight, and at one point I was training three to five days a week,” he says.

“I was a Queensland martial arts instructor so I was OK, but no paramedic should have to experience this.”

Mark is also very aware of the changes in the Noosa community over the decades he and his family have lived here.

“The demographic here is changing and so is medical care and technology,” Mark says.

“People used to have their first heart attacks in their 50s; now they’re in their 70s or 80s.

“Years ago if we needed a defibrillator I’d have to drive to meet someone with one halfway from Nambour Ambulance Station, where they were kept. After doing training on the automatic ones, I managed to get some units kept in the Noosa region.

“Before 2014, the ambulance station here (at Tewantin) had four staff and was only operational during the day.

“I pushed for a new station and actually found the location. The new Tewantin Ambulance Station went from four staff to 18 and a 24-hour service. I worked there until 2022, when I moved to the Caloundra base.

“Just wanting to get the best care for our community made me think that if I could get elected I could help even more. Queensland paramedics are trained to deliver timely, quality and appropriate services to the community and that is what I want to deliver politically, too.”

Mark’s three failed candidacies are not the only reason he’s a proud biggest loser.

“Working shifts, like many others I managed to put on a couple of kilos each year,” explains Mark.

“When Covid struck I found myself with a health crisis, becoming a diabetic. I had bariatric surgery, lost 70 kilos and am no longer diabetic.”

A new, much-trimmer figure is not the only change in Mark since his first campaign.

“I now have nine grandchildren,” he says proudly.

“The first time I ran, the baby wore a red t-shirt with Vote for Grandpa printed on it. None of them fit their campaign shirts any more. But they’re my proudest supporters and they’re all behind me for one more try.”