Australians seek vision from political leaders despite short-term challenges

Despite a challenging year for political leaders, a poll* of 1,000 Australians has shown an increase in the number of people who considered political leaders to be exceeding expectations, up from 15 per cent in 2021 to 25 per cent in 2022.

This year’s Ipsos poll showed that Australians had lifted their gaze to the horizon when it came to their expectations of political leaders, seeking vision and long-term thinking from our politicians.

The equivalent poll conducted by the Prize in 2021 reflected the nation’s state of emergency. Last year Australians said they valued leaders who had showed decisiveness, problem-solving ability, and courage, above all other attributes. Twelve months on, respondents said it was most important for political leaders to clearly communicate a vision (33%) and inspire hope in the community (30%).

The challenge now for our political leaders is to continue to meet expectations as they shift and reprioritise over time.

The Hon. Mike Baird AO, a long-serving member of the McKinnon Prize Selection Panel, said the poll results reflected the complexity of challenges our political leaders are facing, but reiterated that a real opportunity exists for politicians who can meet the desire of Australians for a bolder vision and long-term perspective.

“For the first time in some years, Australians appear to be more open to a leader with genuine vision. While we still face many problems domestically and internationally, leaders must try more than ever to balance responsible solutions to our short-term issues with a policy idea that will benefit our children, and their children,” Mr Baird said.

The poll also found nearly two-thirds (63%) of Australians surveyed expected Australia’s political leaders to play an active role in responding to the cost of living crisis, and more than 50 per cent believed our political leaders had not done enough to date in response to the surging cost of living.

Politicians who can navigate these kinds of complex challenges and deliver positive outcomes for the Australian community are exactly the type of leaders the McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership seeks to acknowledge.

The Prize is an independent, non-partisan award that recognises and applauds outstanding political leadership across the political spectrum each year.

“Right now, I believe Australians want to see our leaders thinking long-term, to ensure our nation is on the right path for the future. This is always politically challenging, but it represents an exciting opportunity,” Mr Baird said.

“There has never been a better time for politicians to demonstrate what it means to be an outstanding leader and reiterate their vision for their region, their state and our nation.”

The Hon. Simon Crean MP, who has worked closely with the McKinnon Prize for a number of years, said: “The expectations that Australians have of political leaders are a real reflection of the time.”

“The recent federal election saw a significant vote for change. The Australian electorate was strategic in the way it expressed it. It was a vote for stronger action on climate change, as well as a call for greater integrity and respect on all sides of politics.”

“Whilst the jury is still out, early polling suggests that people have noticed a change in the tone of politics and have been encouraged by the signs so far – even those who did not vote for the Government. This is the context in which the 2022 McKinnon Prize will be determined.”

“I encourage Australians to reflect on the character and achievements of their local, state, territory and federal leaders. Good things are happening, and it’s this leadership which the McKinnon Prize seeks to recognise.”

Nominations for the McKinnon Political Leader of the Year and Emerging Political Leader of the Year are now open.

Visit the McKinnon Prize website to place your nomination and find out more: