January 26, 2013

Alexander Downer leads a double life.


Alexander Downer
Alexander Downer with his daughter Hetty and wife Nicky. Picture: Matt Turner Source: The Advertiser
The former foreign affairs minister spends half his time in aeroplanes and other countries, facilitating peace between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, reporting to the UN Security Council in New York, making speeches, attending forums and advising on boards.FORMER foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer leads a double life.
At home, the father of four is a visiting professor at the University of Adelaide, a partner in consultancy firm Bespoke Approach and chairman of the Common Ground initiative, which tackles homelessness.
For all this and more, Australia's longest-serving foreign minister has been awarded the nation's greatest civic honour - appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)
Typical of his busy days, the 61-year-old received the news by telephone on his way to work.
"I'm very honoured and feel sort of humble about it really because all of these things that you do for which you get recognition, there are always so many other people behind the scenes who have less of a profile," Mr Downer said.
Among his proudest achievements, Mr Downer lists brokering a peace agreement to end a long-running civil conflict in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, and making what he describes as hard but necessary economic decisions in the Howard government.
These days, Mr Downer is a UN special adviser on Cyprus, spending up to two weeks in every month in the country.
Mr Downer guessed he had visited about 120 countries.
"I sort of live, in a way, two lives. I've got my life here in SA and then I have this sort of world overseas which centres in a way around Cyprus and New York," he said.
Mr Downer has lived with his wife Nicky, 60 - awarded an Order of Australia in 2005 for service to the arts - in their Hills home for 24 years.
She said she missed her husband when he was away and he definitely did above what was expected in his daily job.
As for what the future holds, Mr Downer has fended off speculation he's considering a tilt at the state Opposition leadership but admits he has no plans to slow down.
"The worst thing that I could ever imagine is just retiring, and playing golf," he said.
Source: Adelaide Now


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