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McNish, Mary Elizabeth (c. 1926 - 2013)

c. 1926
10 August 2013
Political candidate, Teacher and Activist


A well known figure in Sydney political and socially active organizations and a staunch defender of civil liberties. Mary McNish stood for the Australia Party in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly elections for Willoughby in 1971 and 1973.


At the time of her first candidacy Mary McNish was the NSW and National Secretary of the Australia Party, which she had helped to found. Prior to 1971, she was organising secretary of the JOBS project conducted by the Adult Education Department of the University of Sydney, which was responsible for pre-vocational training and final placement of 40 young Aborigines.

Mary McNish was an active campaigner for the establishment of a library in Willoughby, the last municipality in the state without one. She was also an active member of the Council for Civil Liberties, and in subsequent years held all executive positions on it. She campaigned against the Queensland legislation prohibiting street marches in 1979, and in company with George Petersen, M.L.A., Senator George Georges, and 63 others, was arrested for her action.

Mary McNish was born and educated in Queensland. She married (1) John Olsen, with whom she had a daughter, and (2) Alex McNish.

Sources used to compile this entry: Sydney Morning Herald 22 January 1971; North Shore Times 10 February 1971 p.21; 7 November 1973 p.27; George Petersen Remembers. Sydney 1998; Personal knowledge of Rachel Grahame.

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