International player returns to roots

FROM rubbing shoulders with international presidents to advising the United Nations on foreign policy, a former Lismore man returned to the region yesterday.

Multilingual Professor Dr Edward McWhinney was born in Lismore and studied here before beginning his celebrated career, which included roles as a parliamentary secretary, Yale University graduate in the US, a Crown prosecutor and a pilot.

After arriving in Lismore, the former Yale professor visited the Richmond River Historical Society, to which he is a generous supporter, en route from his home in Canada to the University of Sydney, where he studied law.

Lismore City mayor Jenny Dowell presented Prof McWhinney with a gift of appreciation for his contributions to the historical society.

“Always there is a welcome place for you here in the Lismore community whenever you choose to return,” Cr Dowell said.

Prof McWhinney’s father, Matthew, was a teacher at Lismore High School in the 1930s, where he has left his mark in the form of a prize for public policy.

On his first visit to Lismore in 10 years, Prof McWhinney has noticed big changes in the city.

“Lismore is a very dynamic community,” he said. “I hardly recognise it, but I notice the fundamental changes socially and in infrastructure and that is very important.”

Prof McWhinney recalled being involved in negotiations between East and West through the Cold War and talked of his recent book, The Governor-General and the Prime Ministers, which explores ways of moving Canada away from the monarchy after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

“There is so much in the political system that is out of date,” he said.

“With the passing of the Queen there will be a movement, there is no question about it. When immigrants living in the country come of age politically you are going to get demands for a more mature system.”

Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce has asked to discuss the book and its relevance to Australia with Prof McWhinney.

Despite his notable and varied career, there is one highlight he is particularly proud of.

“I was involved in judicial policy-making and activism and there was a 50-year commemoration of this and my work was cited as having a vast contribution to international changes,” he said.

“I feel quite proud of that.”

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