22 March 2024

McKinnon Prize names Pocock emerging political leader of the year

| Chris Johnson
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Senator David Pocock

Senator David Pocock expresses his honour in being named Emerging Political Leader by the McKinnon Prize 2023. Photo: Region.

The prestigious McKinnon Prize 2023 has recognised David Pocock as the Emerging Political Leader of the Year.

And while the independent senator for the ACT conceded the care factor for giving awards to politicians wasn’t high among the general public, he said acknowledging good political representation was important.

“It is an honour to be recognised for the work I do serving people in the ACT as an independent senator,” he said when accepting the award at a brief ceremony in Parliament House.

“As an independent senator for the ACT – and we’ve only got two senators – I’m very conscious of the need to get out there and hear from Canberrans about their views on upcoming legislation.”

In a statement released by the McKinnon Prize, Senator Pocock said it was a “huge privilege” representing a community he loved.

“People in the ACT have shown political leadership for decades, from their support for renewable energy and strong action on climate change, to marriage equality and more recently in the Voice referendum,” he said.

“What I have been able to achieve so far in the Senate reflects their energy and determination to work towards a better future for all.

“I believe we have so much more in common than the sum of our differences and this is the approach I’ve tried to bring to my role on the crossbench.

“We are facing huge challenges as communities, as a nation and globally it’s more important than ever to find ways to work together to solve them.”

READ ALSO Electoral reform before the next federal poll, says Pocock and most of the Crossbench

In presenting the prize, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith (a past recipient of the McKinnon Prize’s Political Leader of the Year), said the panel had selected Senator Pocock based on how he used his role as an independent senator.

“Particularly on his role in dealing with legislation, and not using the position for horse-trading in his particular territory,” Mr Smith said.

“And for looking to improve legislation and working across both sides of the political aisle.”

In a statement, selection panel chair Martin Parkinson said: “David Pocock has made a serious impact on Australian politics in an impressively short period of time. The panel was impressed by his articulation of a new kind of collaborative politics, and his dedication to these principles in practice.

“Historically, Australia has seen senators who hold the balance of power use that to pursue a relatively narrow set of goals, designed to satisfy a small constituency, often at the expense of the broader community.

“Senator Pocock is a great example of how that position of power can be used to pursue a broader vision for the community as a whole.”

READ ALSO The vote is in and Australian democracy comes out in front

Selection panel member Alan Finkel described Senator Pocock’s leadership as a fine example of the values the McKinnon Prize was established to recognise.

“He genuinely listens to stakeholders and attempts to balance competing interests in good faith,” Mr Finkel said.

“We hope awarding this year’s prize to Senator Pocock helps promote the excellent example he sets at a time when so many populist ‘strongman’ leaders command headlines on the global stage.

“The panel also regarded Pocock’s community and charity work very highly, and his history of principled stances on political issues, such as his refusal to marry until gay marriage was legalised in 2017.”

The McKinnon Prize for Political Leader of the Year was awarded to Federal Member for Bass Bridget Archer, recognising her “long-standing courage in standing up for her principles” and collaborative approach to policy discussions.

Ms Archer has crossed the floor to vote against her Liberal Party on a number of matters of integrity she has felt strongly about.

Dr Parkinson said Ms Archer’s leadership had impressed successive McKinnon Prize selection panels and it was appropriate she was recognised with this year’s top honour.

“Ms Archer has consistently demonstrated rare courage by standing up for her principles and the interests of her constituents, even when this has put her at odds with her party and threatened her career,” he said.

“Through all this, her dedication and commitment to her party is clear and the panel noted how she has worked tirelessly to drive reforms from within.”

Former Speaker Tony Smith, David Pocock and Bridget Archer

Former Speaker Tony Smith (right) presents David Pocock and Bridget Archer with the McKinnon prizes for political leadership. Photo: Region.

In accepting the award, Ms Archer said she felt honoured by the prize.

“The aim of the McKinnon Prize is such a worthwhile pursuit for Australians, for Australian politicians and for democracy in this country,” she said.

“Democracy has been declining I think right across the world. Trust and faith in political leaders is on the wane and I think it is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to restore that trust and faith in our political leaders… It’s a responsibility that I feel when I come here.”

The McKinnon Prize is a collaboration between the Susan McKinnon Foundation and the University of Melbourne and has been awarded annually since 2017.

The prize was established to recognise political leaders from all levels of government who have driven positive impact through their vision, collaboration, courage and ethical behaviour.

Original Article published by Chris Johnson on Riotact.

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