About the Prize

The McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership is a new, non-partisan and independent award that will recognise two outstanding Australian political leaders each year.
Long serving politicians with over five years in office, whether leaders in local communities or on the national stage, are eligible for the McKinnon Political Leader of the Year.

The McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year will shine a light on a recently elected federal, state, territorial or local politician, with less than five years in office, who is working collaboratively with communities and developing workable solutions to critical issues.

This is intended to become one of the country’s most important prizes to push for a strong and effective system of government in Australia and encourage those who aspire to political office to consider carefully the type of leader they wish to be.

The McKinnon Prize celebrates political leaders at all levels of government, recognising those who have driven positive change and sparking a national conversation about the role of politicians and our aspirations for leadership in Australia.

Glyn Davis AC
Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Melbourne
The Vision
In an era of political polarisation and growing partisanship, there is declining public trust in our political leaders. Without this trust, belief in our system of government erodes and necessary reforms are hard to achieve. With Australia facing immense challenges in its region and the wider world, it’s more important than ever that we have courageous and visionary leaders.

The McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership is the first of its kind in Australia. It has been established to:

  • Recognise politicians, at all levels of government, who have successfully tackled vital issues of public policy, overcome adversity and achieved real change for the public good
  • Inspire others to pursue courageous and visionary political leadership despite the challenges they may face
  • Generate national discussion about our expectations of political leadership in this country.

Current local, state and territory and federal politicians in Australia are eligible to be nominated. Each year, the winners will receive a trophy of recognition and the opportunity to deliver a speech at an awards ceremony at the University of Melbourne. The McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year will also receive a financial prize to be used for professional development and growth.

The McKinnon Prize is represented by a the Acrux, the brightest star in the Southern Cross constellation. The Acrux has been used as a reference point in navigation for centuries. It is a symbol of stability, leadership and guardianship.

Now, more than ever, we need to publicly recognise political leadership that shows vision and courage and has had a constructive impact for our country.

Grant Rule
Co-Founder, Susan McKinnon Foundation

2021 McKinnon Prize Ambassadors

Amanda Vanstone AO

Amanda Vanstone AO

Former member of the Liberal Party of Australia

Simon Crean

Simon Crean

Former leader of the Australian Labor Party

The Susan McKinnon Foundation was established in 2015 by Sophie Oh and Grant Rule to fulfil their desire to make a positive difference to society. The Foundation believes better leadership is the key to a brighter future for Australia. By fostering better leadership, we can create more effective government and obtain the greatest leverage for positive change to our society and economy.

The Susan McKinnon Foundation’s vision is for an Australia led by people motivated by the common good and who are rigorous and far sighted in their decision making.

The Melbourne School of Government is an interdisciplinary school harnessing the resources of the University of Melbourne to create and deliver new Masters programs, research, executive education and international partnerships.

The Melbourne School of Government provides a platform for informed, independent debate on contemporary issues of great significance to the future of Australia and our region. Its mission is to inspire and equip governments, businesses, social partners and individuals to meet the challenges of contemporary governance.

By bringing together expertise from various disciplines across the University including, but not limited to, economics, political science, international relations, sociology, development studies, philosophy and law, the School unites policy makers, industry leaders and citizens through ideas that are actionable and provide lasting solutions.

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

Privacy Collection Notice

University of Melbourne logo
Susan McKinnon Foundation logo