Former house of representatives speaker Tony Smith and Queensland’s Ipswich mayor Teresa Harding have taken out a non-partisan prize for political leadership.
Smith received the McKinnon Prize for political leadership while Harding received the award for emerging political leader of the year, with both recognising courageous, visionary, ethical and collaborative leadership.
A panel including former prime minister Julia Gillard, former NSW premier Mike Baird, University of Technology Sydney chancellor Catherine Livingstone and former senior public servant Martin Parkinson, selected the two winners.
Smith, who stepped down as speaker in November 2021 to praise across the political divide, said he was honoured to receive the award.
“Last year was the second year of the most significant public health crisis in 100 years, which presented unique challenges for the Parliament,” Smith said.
“In that context, I am humbled to be recognised by such a prestigious organisation and esteemed selection panel for my efforts as speaker during this difficult period for Australia.”
He said his role had been to be both speaker of the house and speaker for the house – ensuring all parliamentarians receive a fair opportunity to debate and express their point of view.
Smith replaced speaker Bronwyn Bishop following her resignation over a travel entitlements scandal in 2015, and he pledged to absent himself from the Liberal party room for the duration to protect his neutrality.
Harding received her award for achievements and commitment to transparency and public accountability in political institutions.
She is a former member of the armed forces and entered politics in March 2020 to bring a fresh start to Ipswich City Council following allegations of corruption, and is credited with inspiring public confidence within 12 months of being voted into the role.