Archer, Pocock win McKinnon Prize for outstanding political leadership

Archer, Pocock win McKinnon Prize for outstanding political leadership

Federal Member for Bass Bridget Archer and ACT Senator David Pocock have been announced as winners of the McKinnon Prize, Australia’s independent, non-partisan award for outstanding political leadership.

The McKinnon Prize is a collaboration between the Susan McKinnon Foundation and the University of Melbourne and has been awarded annually since 2017. The Prize was established to recognise political leaders from all levels of government who have driven positive impact through their vision, collaboration, courage and ethical behaviour.

Ms Archer was selected as the McKinnon Federal Political Leader of the Year 2023, which recognises MPs with more than five years in elected office. The section panel noted Ms Archer’s long-standing courage in standing up for her principles and her collaborative approach to policy discussions.

Senator Pocock was selected as the McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year 2023, which recognises recently-elected representatives with less than five years in federal, state/territory or local office.

The selection panel recognised Senator Pocock’s values-driven approach to handling his balance of power position in the Senate and his commitment to genuinely listening to and appraising competing perspectives.

A new category, McKinnon State/Territory Political Leader of the Year will be announced later this week.

The McKinnon Prize was selected by a panel of eminent Australians, including Martin Parkinson, Alan Finkel, and Patrica Karvelas (full panel list below).

Bridget Archer on being recognised with the McKinnon Prize:

“Representing the community of Bass in Federal Parliament is truly an honour and privilege. From the day I was elected I committed to being a genuine and authentic representative for the people of Bass. Being a recipient of the McKinnon Prize is a reminder it is the community I ultimately serve.

“As members of Federal Parliament, we are in the unique position to lead the conversation and ensure all voices are heard. I will continue to speak out against gendered violence and call for the elimination of violence against women and children. I look forward to continuing my advocacy to ensure adequate mental health services are provided not just in Northern Tasmania but across Australia, ensuring the most vulnerable in our society are protected.

“I thank the Susan McKinnon Foundation, the University of Melbourne and the selection panel for the commendation. It is a prestigious group I am joining the ranks of and I am very honoured.”

Selection Panel chair Dr Martin Parkinson on Bridget Archer:

“Bridget Archer’s leadership has impressed successive McKinnon Prize selection panels. It’s appropriate she takes the top honour this year.

“Ms Archer has consistently demonstrated rare courage by standing up for her principles and the interests of her constituents, even when this has put her at odds with her party and threatened her career. Through all this, her dedication and commitment to her party is clear and the panel noted how she has worked tirelessly to drive reforms from within.”

Selection Panel member Dr Alan Finkel on Bridget Archer:

“Along with her political courage, Bridget Archer is also well known for her collaborative approach, community work and inclusion of young people in policy discussions.

“Australian political parties traditionally value discipline and it takes real bravery to pursue an alternate path of principled leadership.”

David Pocock on being recognised with the McKinnon Prize:

“It’s a huge privilege representing a community I love and an honour to have my work for them recognised in this way.

“People in the ACT have shown political leadership for decades, from their support for renewable energy and strong action on climate change, to marriage equality and more recently in the Voice referendum.

“What I have been able to achieve so far in the Senate reflects their energy and determination to work towards a better future for all.

“I believe we have so much more in common than the sum of our differences and this is the approach I’ve tried to bring to my role on the crossbench. We are facing huge challenges as communities, as a nation and globally it’s more important than ever to find ways to work together to solve them.

“Being accessible, accountable and putting people first, above politics, is what I committed to doing. I think they’re values Australians want to see and values that many winners of this Prize share and it’s a privilege to be recognised alongside them.”

Selection Panel chair Dr Martin Parkinson on David Pocock:

“David Pocock has made a serious impact on Australian politics in an impressively short period of time. The panel was impressed by his articulation of a new kind of collaborative politics, and his dedication to these principles in practice.

“Historically, Australia has seen Senators who hold the balance of power use that to pursue a relative narrow set of goals, designed to satisfy a small constituency, often at the expense of the broader community. Senator Pocock is a great example of how that position of power can be used to pursue a broader vision for the community as a whole.”

Selection Panel member Dr Alan Finkel on David Pocock:

“David Pocock’s leadership is a fine example of the values the McKinnon Prize was established to recognise. He genuinely listens to stakeholders and attempts to balance competing interests in good faith. We hope awarding this year’s prize to Senator Pocock helps promote the excellent example he sets at a time when so many populist ‘strongman’ leaders command headlines on the global stage.

“The panel also regarded Pocock’s community and charity work very highly, and his history of principled stances on political issues, such as his refusal to marry until gay marriage was legalised in 2017.”

McKinnon Prize Selection Panel: 

  • Dr Martin Parkinson AC PSM, Chancellor, Macquarie University (Chair)
  • Dr Alan Finkel AC, former Chief Scientist of Australia; Chair of Stile Education, Chair of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Biotechnology
  • Georgie Harman, CEO of Beyond Blue
  • Tanya Hosch, Executive General Manager Inclusion & Social Policy AFL
  • Patricia Karvelas, Host, RN Breakfast on ABC Radio
  • Professor Renee Leon PSM, Vice Chancellor and President, Charles Sturt University
  • Luke Achterstraat, CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA)
  • Cathy McGowan AO, Chair, AgriFutures
  • Arthur Sinodinos AO, Partner & Chair of Australia Practice, The Asia Group
  • Ashleigh Streeter-Jones, Founder & CEO of Raise Our Voice Australia (ROVA) and Victorian Young Australian of the Year Finalist
  • David Thodey AO, Chairman, Xero & Ramsay Healthcare and incoming University of Sydney Chancellor
  • Jay Weatherill AO, Director of Public Affairs with the Minderoo Foundation

About the McKinnon Prize

The McKinnon Prize is Australia’s independent, non-partisan award for outstanding political leadership. It is a rare opportunity to recognise outstanding Australian political leadership, providing a crucial counterbalance to widespread mistrust and cynicism.

The McKinnon Prize was first awarded in 2017. Previous recipients include Senator Penny Wong, Dr Helen Haines, Tony Smith, Mayor Teresa Harding, Greg Hunt and Dr Anne Aly.

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


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