She received the award for her leadership and advocacy in promoting tolerance and inclusiveness in Australia, and for playing a significant role in shaping Australia’s foreign policy dialogue.
As Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Wong has been a consistent force in shaping respectful political debate in Australia.
The award also comes after her leading role as an advocate for marriage equality during the 2017 postal survey.
“Many Australians have lost faith in our institutions and their representatives,” Senator Wong said, when accepting the award. “Around the world democratic principles are being challenged. But it is democracy which enables the betterment of our community and the protection of rights. So we must step forward to defend it, in principle and in action, at home and internationally. That is why I am grateful for the establishment of the McKinnon Prize, and honoured to receive it.”
Around the world democratic principles are being challenged. But it is democracy which enables the betterment of our community and the protection of rights.
So we must step forward to defend it, in principle and in action, at home and internationally. https://t.co/WG3NtIcpb9
— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) March 19, 2019
Mark Considine, from the University of Melbourne, chaired the 2018 McKinnon Prize selection panel and indicated the prize recognises politicians who have tackled issues of public policy, overcome adversity and achieved real change for the public good.
This year, the non-partisan political leadership prize had a selection panel of two former Prime Ministers, Julia Gillard and John Howard, along with Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott and former Defence secretary Dennis Richardson.
“I think Senator Penny Wong has shown the fortitude to actually stand up for the things she believes in and to put forward policies that are sound and to not be afraid, when its appropriate, to reach across the aisle and to act in a bipartisan way,” said former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Just yesterday, Senator Wong made a call for Australians to change the way they discuss race and faith in light of the Christchurch attacks.
— Mary Patetsos (@marypatetsos) March 17, 2019
In a speech at a vigil for the victims of the Christchurch attacks at Marion Mosque, Wong spoke of overcoming hatred in all its forms.
“And we know it is the responsibility of all of us to stand against hatred in all its forms, and embrace tolerance, acceptance and honour our shared humanity,” she said.
“Because we here tonight know that respect and hope are greater than fear, and that love is greater than hate.”