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Nicola Webber
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Department: 
Media

A new, non-partisan prize recognising courageous, visionary and collaborative political leadership across all tiers of Australian government is being launched today.

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

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis will chair the inaugural selection panel, which will include former include Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and John Howard as well as distinguished business, political, education and sporting leaders.

The McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership will be offered in two categories: the McKinnon Political Leader of the Year, for politicians with at least five years in office, and the McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year, for those with less than five years in office.

University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis said: “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. We believe these inspirational leaders exist, and that now is the time to shine a light on what they are doing. This what the McKinnon Prize will achieve.” 

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: "In our fast moving, ever-changing world, just staying across the media agenda of the day, attending community events and keeping the paperwork moving can feel incredibly taxing for today’s politicians. But while all that requires competence, it isn’t leadership. In my view, the measure of a leader is the positive change that has only been made possible because of that person. It is about having the policy idea and pursuing it doggedly. Some practical compromises may be necessary along the way, but what emerges as a result of the political leader’s efforts changes our nation, a state or territory or local community for the better. It is that kind of leadership that should be rewarded and recognised through the McKinnon Prize. I welcome the opportunity to serve on the judging panel." 

Former Prime Minister John Howard said: "This is a wonderful initiative to recognise, in a non-partisan fashion, the significance of political leadership in Australia. The University of Melbourne, especially its Vice Chancellor, Glyn Davis is to be congratulated for sponsoring the prize.  He has assembled a very diverse selection panel which will add to the prestige of the Award." 

The inaugural selection panel is: 

  • Glyn Davis, Vice-Chancellor, University of Melbourne 

  • Megan Davis, UNSW, Director of Indigenous Law Centre, former member of Referendum Council and UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 

  • Adam Gilchrist, former Australian Cricket captain and Australia-India Education Ambassador 

  • Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia 

  • John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia 

  • Andrew Mackenzie, CEO, BHP Billiton 

  • Dennis Richardson, former Secretary, Department of Defence  

  • Grant Rule, CEO, MessageMedia and co-founder, Susan McKinnon Foundation 

  • David Speers, Political Editor, Sky News  

  • Fleur Studd, Co-Founder, Market Lane Coffee 

  • HeleSzoke, CEO, Oxfam 

  • Laura Tingle, Political Editor, Australian Financial Review  

  • Kee Wong, Managing Director, e-Centric Innovations 

Susan McKinnon Foundation Co-Founder Grant Rule said: “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.” 

The McKinnon Political Leader of the Year will recognise an established politician who has successfully tackled vital issues of public policy, overcome adversity and achieved real change for the public good.  

They will be rewarded with a trophy of recognition, delivery of the keynote speech at The McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership Oration and the honour of being selected as an exemplar of outstanding political leadership by a distinguished group of Australians. 

The McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year will recognise a politician who has also demonstrated outstanding leadership on a significant public policy issue through courageous and collaborative action. 

They will be rewarded with a trophy of recognition, delivery of a speech at The McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership Oration, the honour of being selected as an exemplar of outstanding political leadership by a distinguished group of Australians and a $20,000 financial prize to be used for professional development and growth. 

Nominations open today and will remain open until February 4, 2018. For further information and nomination criteria visit www.mckinnonprize.org.au.