Federal health minister Greg Hunt and Labor MP Dr Anne Aly have been recognised for their work through the non-partisan and independent 2020 McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership awards.
Hunt has been named political leader of the year for his “decisive and courageous” leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. His achievements over the past year have included driving Australia’s vaccine acquisition strategy, reforms to telehealth, and leading the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan.
Hunt said that while he was honoured to receive the prize, the “real heroes” of the pandemic have been the public and health workers.
“The way Australians have worked together during what has been perhaps our most difficult year since 1945 reminds us that there is so much that is good about our country and our people,” he said in a statement.
“They have shone and supported each other in the face of one of our greatest challenges.”
Meanwhile, Aly has been named the emerging political leader of the year for her work in advocating to reduce violence against women and children and exposing right-wing extremist groups to greater government scrutiny.
The Member for Cowan said that while she was been involved in policy and government initiatives for most of her career, her role in those two key policy areas has been “especially rewarding”.
The emerging award recognises politicians with fewer than five years in office. Aly said she was honoured to receive the gong, noting that she hoped it would encourage more people — particularly women and those in culturally and linguistically diverse communities — to “understand that public service and government is open to anyone”.
“Indeed, I would encourage more people from different backgrounds to enter politics and public service, to bring a stronger diversity of views to our public dialogue and policy making,” she said.
The awards are a collaboration between the Susan McKinnon Foundation and the University of Melbourne, and recognise two leaders each year.
University of Melbourne provost professor Jim McCluskey chaired the 2020 prize selection panel, which included prominent Australians including former prime minister Julia Gillard and former NSW premier Mike Baird.
Past political leadership prize winners have included NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Labor senator Penny Wong, while previous emerging political leadership winners have included Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp and Greens senator Jordon Steele-John.