Aussies urged to nominate excellent political leaders for McKinnon Prize

Australians are being urged to put forward excellent political leaders for the 2023 McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership, with nominations for the prestigious award now open.

The McKinnon Prize is Australia’s independent, non-partisan award for outstanding political leadership, recognising leaders who have shown vision, courage, collaboration, and ethical behaviour. Three prizes will be awarded this year:

  • Political Leader of the Year prize (Federal) – for elected federal representatives with more than five years in office
  • Political Leader of the Year prize (State / Territory) – for state and territory elected representatives with more than five years in office
  • Emerging Political Leader of the Year – for federal, state, or local elected representatives with fewer than five years in office

In 2022, Foreign Minister Penny Wong received the McKinnon Political Leader of the Year prize for her work to rebuild Australia’s diplomatic relationships. Member for Indi, Dr Helen Haines MP, claimed the McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the year prize for her commitment to integrity in politics and involving her constituency in her national policy work.

McKinnon Prize Ambassador the Hon Jill Hennessy said: “As Australians, we tend to be good at pointing at what we don’t like about our political leaders, but we should also recognise and discuss the qualities we admire. That’s what the McKinnon Prize seeks to do.

“Scepticism can be healthy, but Australians’ trust in their political leaders has been falling. Without this trust, our system of government can falter and necessary reforms become impossible to achieve. The McKinnon Prize is an unapologetically positive initiative that we hope encourages national discussion about our expectations of political leadership.”

“McKinnon Prize judges are looking for political leaders who have either thought outside the box, worked well with others across the aisle, shown courage by following their principles, or acted with integrity and respect.

“Nominees that really will stand out are those who have brought about a positive change. So if you think that’s your local state or federal member, or someone elected to your local government, please do put them forward.”

Hon Tony Smith, 2021 McKinnon Prize recipient and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, said: “While Australians hold a diversity of political views, I believe our understanding of commendable leadership crosses the political divide. The McKinnon Prize has demonstrated this over the years by recognising the likes of Labor Senator Penny Wong, independent MP Dr Helen Haines, former Liberal MP Greg Hunt, Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John, and local leaders from across the country.

“I’m confident the public will find no shortage of excellent political leaders to nominate for the awards this year.”

Nominations can be made via the McKinnon Prize website and will close on 17 November. Shortlists will be announced in February and winners will be announced in March.

Nominees must be an elected member of a local, state, or federal Government.

Nominees for 2023 McKinnon Political Leader of the Year (Federal and State/Territory) must have been elected to political office prior to 1 January 2019.

Nominees for 2022 McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year must have been elected to political office on or after 1 January 2019.

The McKinnon Prize is judged by an ideologically broad panel of esteemed former politicians – as well as a diverse group of business figures, journalists, and civil society leaders. The McKinnon Prize Shortlisting Committee is chaired by Michael Brennan, CEO of economic research institute e61. The McKinnon Prize Selection Panel is chaired by Martin Parkinson AC PSM, Chancellor of Macquarie University. Both panels are politically balanced.

McKinnon Prize Selection Panel 2023

  • Dr Martin Parkinson AC PSM (Chair)
  • Sharan Burrow AC
  • Peta Credlin AO
  • Dr Alan Finkel AC
  • Tanya Hosch
  • Patricia Karvelas
  • Prof. Renée Leon PSM
  • Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz
  • Cathy McGowan AO
  • The Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO
  • Ashleigh Streeter-Jones
  • David Thodey AO
  • The Hon Jay Weatherill AO

McKinnon Prize Shortlisting Committee 2023

  • Michael Brennan, CEO, e61 (Chair)
  • Wendy Black, Head of Policy, Business Council of Australia
  • James Copsey, Partner, KPMG Australia
  • David Cross, CEO, Blueprint Institute
  • Phillip Coorey, Political Editor, Australian Financial Review
  • Tom Crowley, Political Journalist, The Daily Aus
  • Emma Dawson, Executive Director, Per Capita
  • Ryan Liddell, Managing Director, Principle Advisory
  • Shayne Mallard, Director City Futures, Liverpool City Council
  • Bronwyn Pike AM, CEO, Uniting Vic.Tas
  • Nicholas Reece, Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne
  • John Scales, Founder, JWS Research
  • Lenore Taylor, Editor, The Guardian Australia

Media contact: Charlie Moore, Horton Advisory, 0452 606 171