New McKinnon Prize shortlist reflects changing face of Australian political leadership

The McKinnon Prize, Australia’s independent and non-partisan award for outstanding political leadership, has announced the shortlist for its annual awards.

The shortlist contains outstanding political leaders from a diverse range of backgrounds, united by their delivery of effective political leadership and to inspire the next generation of Australian leaders.

After extensive deliberation, the 2023 McKinnon Prize’s Shortlisting Committee (see below) has shortlisted political leaders from all levels of government. 

The McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year Shortlist: 

  • Jonty Bush MP 
  • Senator Kerrynne Liddle 
  • Senator David Pocock 
  • Allegra Spender MP 
  • Cr Anthony Tran and Cr Jasmine Nguyen (joint nomination) 

The McKinnon State and Territory Political Leader of the Year Shortlist: 

  • Hon Victor Dominello 
  • Alex Greenwich MP 
  • Hon Eloise ‘Ella’ Rafia Haddad MP 
  • Hon Peter Malinauskas MP 
  • Hon Chanston ‘Chansey’ Paech MLA 
  • Hon Chris Minns MP and Hon Dominic Perrottet MP (joint nomination) 

The McKinnon Federal Political Leader of the Year Shortlist: 

  • Bridget Archer MP 
  • Hon Dr Jim Chalmers MP 
  • Julian Leeser MP 
  • Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP 
  • Hon Clare O’Neil MP 
  • Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price 

“These nominations reflect the changing face of Australia’s political leadership,” said McKinnon Prize Shortlisting Committee Chair Michael Brennan.

“The list this year includes a number of politicians who were motivated to enter political life to make a difference in one particular area, while all nominees have demonstrated civility during heated debate and a willingness to work collaboratively.

“This year’s Emerging Leader list is particularly exciting and I believe each of the nominees have the capacity to inspire future Australian political leaders.

“Judging the quality of political leadership is obviously an ambitious undertaking. Wrestling with this shortlist stimulated a fascinating debate within the committee and I hope it stimulates debate in the community as well.

“As Australians we tend to be pretty sceptical about our political leaders. While that can be healthy, it’s also important to recognise examples of leadership excellence. Trust in our political leaders has been falling for some time, and without this trust, belief in our system of government can erode and necessary reforms become impossible to achieve.

“The McKinnon Prize is an unapologetically positive initiative designed to encourage constructive discussion about our expectations of political leadership. I look forward to seeing the final result determined by the Selection Panel.”

The Selection Panel will meet soon to decide on the winners of the Prize across its three categories – Federal, State and Territory, and Emerging Political Leaders – measured against the Prize’s criteria. The Prize recipients will be announced following the Selection Panel meeting. 


How the shortlist was chosen: 

The McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership is a collaboration between the Susan McKinnon Foundation and the University of Melbourne.

The McKinnon Prize is judged by a unique Shortlisting Committee and then Selection Panel of prominent and accomplished Australians. By assembling a unique judging panel drawn from across the political spectrum the McKinnon Prize proves that genuine consensus is possible in the modern era. This year the Shortlisting Committee was: 

  • Michael Brennan, CEO, e61 Institute (Chair) 
  • Anthony Benscher, Managing Director, Barton Deakin 
  • Wendy Black, Head of Policy, Business Council of Australia 
  • Phillip Coorey, Political Editor, Australian Financial Review 
  • David Cross, Chief of Staff, Office of the Vice Chancellor, UNSW 
  • Emma Dawson, Executive Director of Per Capita 
  • Ryan Liddell, Managing Partner, Principle Advisory 
  • Shayne Mallard, Director City Futures, Liverpool City Council 
  • The Hon Bronwyn Pike AM, CEO, Uniting Vic Tas 
  • Cr Nicholas Reece, Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Principal Fellow, Melbourne School of Government, The University of Melbourne  
  • John Scales, Founder, JWS Research 
  • Lenore Taylor, Editor, The Guardian Australia 


Media contact: Charlie Moore 0452 606 171 / Anil Lambert 0416 426 722, Horton Advisory