Women dominate nominations for prestigious emerging political leadership prize

Women dominate nominations for prestigious emerging political leadership prize

A list of all women politicians across each level of government have been shortlisted for the 2020 McKinnon Prize in Emerging Political Leadership, in recognition of their strong impact in a year of crisis.

Federal independent MPs Dr Helen Haines and Zali Steggall and Labor’s Dr Anne Aly have been put forward for the prize, as well as Brisbane City Councillor Fiona Cunningham, Mayor of Glen Innes Severn Council Carol Sparks, and ACT Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Attorney-General, Elizabeth Lee.

This ’emerging’ list counters the separate list for the McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership, which is dominated by men.

The McKinnon Prize in Emerging Political Leadership recognises an outstanding Australian politician with fewer than five years in office. Each of the women shortlisted for the prize were selected from a pool of hundreds of politicians that were nominated in 2020.

"bloody disgrace"
Mayor of Glenn Innes Severn Council Carol Sparks

The non-partisan, independent award is a collaboration between the Susan McKinnon Foundation and the University of Melbourne, and it says each of the women shortlisted “continued to focus on the issues that affected their constituents” amid “multiple, overlapping crises”. The politicians each led with conviction and drive that positively impacted the lives of their constituents and broader society.

Some of the issues the nominees drove change on include working to reduce family violence, uniting communities against extremism, reaching across the aisle to drive action on climate change, and helping local businesses recover from the bushfires.

Fiona Cunningham, Councillor for Coorparoo Ward, Brisbane City Council

Amanda Vanstone, a McKinnon Prize Ambassador, said the recognition associated with the prize makes it easier for young people to see themselves as future leaders.

“By celebrating emerging leaders, we are prompting discussions about what good quality leadership can look like at all levels of government and inspiring the next generation to get involved,” Vanstone said.

ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee

In 2019, the City of Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp took home the prestigious prize for emerging political leadership.

Shortlisted nominee Zali Steggall MP said she was honoured to be nominated for the award, and that entering politics was one of the best decisions she’s made.

“Entering politics as an independent MP was one of the best decisions I have made as I can hold the government to account and have introduced a Climate Change Bill to legislate net zero by 2050,” she said.

“I want to encourage more women and men to run as independents where you can make significant difference for your community.”

The winner of the prize will be announced in March, selected by panel including Julia Gillard, Mike Baird, Catherine Livingstone, Nick Farr-Jones, Chris Kenny, Leigh Clifford, Sabra Lane, Professor Megan Davis, Lisa Paul, Peter McNamara and Yasmin Poole.

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