McKinnon Political Leader of the Year - Federal

Bridget Archer MP

Bridget Archer MP, Federal Member for Bass, has been named the 2023 Federal Political Leader of the Year for consistently demonstrating rare courage in standing up for her principles and the interests of her constituents, even when this has put her at odds with her party. Bridget Archer was also shortlisted in 2022 for McKinnon Political Leader of the Year. 

Bridget Archer has garnered a reputation for being an MP who always puts her conscience first, unafraid to speak out against perceived injustice, including in the context of her own political party. Her cooperative leadership style has seen her rise quickly in the public eye. Archer’s local focus and dedication to the people of northern Tasmania has been rewarded by a landmark re-election in the most marginal seat in Australia, the first MP to do so in 20 years. 

The Selection Panel collectively acknowledged that Bridget Archer’s local election success in her marginal seat was demonstrative of the high esteem she was held in by her community. They agreed that she consistently demonstrated her principled approach as a politician, and that her leadership style was unique in that she had shown a genuine and ongoing commitment to working on reforms to her party from within. Archer was also recognised for her collaborative approach, community work, and inclusion of young people in policy discussions. 

Bridget Archer has crossed the floor a number of times since her election to the seat of Bass. In October 2023 she crossed the floor to oppose the Coalition’s proposal for a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities. She was also a key federal Liberal who supported the Voice referendum, in opposition to her party’s position.  

In 2020 Archer voted against the Morrison Government’s trial of the cashless debit card program to deliver welfare payments, at a time when the electorate of Bass had a higher unemployment rate than the national average. She also crossed the floor to support the National Anti-Corruption Commission in 2021 and for the inclusion of protections for transgender students in the Sex Discrimination Act in 2022. After the election of the Albanese Government, Archer was the sole Coalition member to cross the floor to support the Government’s emissions reduction target of 43 per cent, and was quoted at the time saying the climate emergency “transcends age, gender, political beliefs and socioeconomic circumstances”.   

Born in Hobart, Tasmania in 1975, Bridget Archer graduated from the University from Tasmania, and started her career at the Tasmanian Herbarium and before becoming a farmer. Her political career began in local government in 2009 when she joined George Town Council, Tasmania, serving as a councillor, and later in the roles of Deputy Mayor and Mayor. She won the marginal, bellwether north-eastern Tasmanian seat of Bass in the 2019 Federal election, and was re-elected in 2022, despite a nationwide swing against the Liberals. After being re-elected in May 2022, Archer said she had “brought all my vulnerability to the role” and was proud to continue her commitment to the people of Bass. 

In the House of Representatives, Bridget Archer is currently a Member of the Speaker’s Panel, Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts and is a member of the Publications Committee and the Joint Standing Committee: Implementation of the National Redress Scheme.