Nominations for the 2019 McKinnon Prize have closed. Winners will be announced in March 2020.

Selection criteria

Download and view the nomination forms for the McKinnon Political Leader of the Year  and the McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year.

The Selection Panel will be looking for stories of real impact and achievement where peoples’ lives were made better through a nominee’s:

  • Innovative, far-sighted vision to solve important public policy problems
  • Ability to cross partisan divides, build coalitions and collaborate to achieve positive outcomes
  • Courage and bravery to overcome formidable opposition and stand up for a worthy principle, regardless of risks to their career
  • Honest, compassionate and ethical behaviour that inspires public confidence.

Nominees may have demonstrated at least one of these selection criteria through their current role on one significant public policy issue, or through multiple achievements.

Nominations that will stand out are those that provide clear and compelling examples of impact and positive change.


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

Nominees must have held office in 2019:

  • Nominees for McKinnon Political Leader of the Year must have been elected to their current position prior to 1 January 2015.
  • Nominees for McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year must have been elected to their current position on or after 1 January 2015.

Self-nominations will be accepted.

Prizes will not be awarded posthumously.

Nominees cannot be considered in both prize categories in the same year, but can be considered for recognition in a separate category in subsequent years.

In circumstances where the length of service of a nominee is unclear due to a break in service or a move to a different level of government, the Shortlisting Committee and the Selection Panel reserve the right to determine that any nominees be considered in a different prize category than the one for which they were originally nominated, and will consider the nomination against the relevant selection criteria for that prize.

Unsuccessful nominees may be re-nominated in subsequent years.

Group nominations are not eligible. However, the selection panel reserves the right to award multiple nominees when collective action has been demonstrated.

No weight will be given to the number of times a person is nominated.


Confirm eligibility
Make sure the person you are nominating is eligible for the prize (as above).

Address the selection criteria
When completing the nomination form you will need to address each selection criteria individually. Pay particular attention to how the nominee has demonstrated exceptional achievement for each of these

Use examples
Wherever possible, include real-world examples of your nominee’s achievements and efforts. This could be achieved through facts or figures, media coverage, or reference to supporting documentation.

Write for your audience
Our selection panel is comprised of distinguished Australians with a broad range of expertise. While some nominees for the prize may be national figures, some may have made more significant impact locally so consider whether the panel will be aware of the person you are nominating. Your nomination should be written for an engaged audience who may not be familiar with your nominee, their background and their achievements.

Focus on quality not quantity
You do not need to provide details of all your nominee’s achievements. Instead, make sure you provide information that shows how they stand out. The panel does not require their full employment history or background. Rather, they require the detail that helps explain why the nominee should be considered for the prize.


Are nominations confidential?
All information submitted via the nomination form will be held in accordance with the University’s Privacy Policy. Prize winners will be determined from a shortlist of nominees by a selection panel of distinguished Australians and the panel’s deliberations will be confidential. The details of those who submit a nomination/s will not be provided to the Selection Panel.

The University of Melbourne reserves the right to reject any nomination it believes in good faith to be false, fraudulent or inconsistent with the University’s Privacy Policy.

Who is eligible for the prize?
Elected members of local, state or federal government in Australia who have held office in 2019 are eligible for the prize. For full details on eligibility, see above.

Who can nominate?
Anyone: if you have witnessed the bold and courageous action of an eligible political leader and believe they deserve recognition, you should submit a nomination. Self-nominations are also permitted.

How do I nominate?
To nominate someone for the prize, you will need to complete a nomination form by the deadline. See above for top tips in writing a nomination.

Should I know the person I nominate?
You do not need to personally know the person you are nominating. However, they must be eligible for the prize and you should know enough about their achievements in order to successfully complete the nomination form.

What constitutes supporting documentation?
Supporting documentation could include (but is not limited to) news articles, speech transcripts and websites. The nomination form allows up to five pieces of supporting documentation to be uploaded.

How can I check if my nomination has been received?
You will receive an email once your nomination form has been successfully submitted. If you believe there has been an error, please contact

What are the selection criteria for nominees?
Selection criteria are listed above.

If someone has previously received a prize, can they be nominated again?
Those who have been nominated for (or awarded) McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year may, in subsequent years, be nominated for McKinnon Political Leader of the Year, provided they satisfy the eligibility criteria.

If I nominate someone and they are unsuccessful, can they be nominated again?
Unsuccessful nominees may be nominated in subsequent years, as long as they are eligible for that year’s prize.

How are recipients selected?
Recipients will be shortlisted based on how well they meet the selection criteria. Our panel of distinguished Australians will then select the recipients of the prize in each category. No correspondence will be entered into with respect to the selection process.

Who has previously been awarded the prize?
Senator Dean Smith was named the McKinnon Political Leader of the Year for 2017 and Councillor Vonda Malone was named the Emerging Political Leader of the Year for 2017. In 2018, Senator Penny Wong was awarded the McKinnon Political Leader of the Year and Senator Jordon Steele-John received the Emerging Political of the Year prize. 

When will the prize be awarded?
The winners of the 2019 McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership will be awarded in March 2020.

Can the prize be withdrawn?
The selection of shortlisted nominees and prize winners reflect the nominations received and the information made available to the shortlisting committee and the selection panel at the time of nomination.

The University of Melbourne and the Susan McKinnon Foundation reserve the right to withdraw an award should further information, or an award winner’s conduct, draw the McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership into disrepute.

For enquiries contact the Melbourne School of Government:

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

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