New leadership prize sparks ‘Change Makers’

Image of 'The Change Makers' book.
'The Change Makers' is available from 5 February 2019.

A new, non-partisan prize in political leadership has inspired Shaun Carny’s latest book, The Change Makers, where twenty-five outstanding Australian leaders share their insights and lessons on the essence of inspiring leadership.

The McKinnon Prize is a non-partisan collaboration between the Susan McKinnon Foundation and the University of Melbourne, introduced to spark a national conversation about the role of politicians and public aspirations for leadership in Australia.

Book author, editor and columnist, Shaun Carney said forty years experience as a journalist had given him a good understanding of leadership and could see something missing in contemporary politics.

“In recent years I’d come to believe, like many Australians, that I’d been witnessing too much faux leadership by individuals occupying leaders’ positions who did not in effect, lead.”

“The McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership, which inspired this collection, is designed to recognise politicians, at all levels of government, who generate national discussion about our expectations of political leadership and inspire others to pursue courageous and visionary leadership.”

Released tomorrow by Melbourne University Publishing, the book includes contributions from political leaders, including the 2017 winners of the inaugural McKinnon Prize, and non-political leaders in sport, education, business, defence and national security, community activism, philanthropy, policing, theatre, academia, science, medicine and Indigenous affairs.

Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, Professor Marcia Langton said having academic integrity in public life was a very good defence against the bruising of a nasty public debate.

“When I was young, I was called a crazy radical because I said things that were plainly the case.  All the evidence supported what I was saying, but people were blind to it.  That’s how paradigms work: our society becomes inured to a falsity and doesn’t realise that the falsity has been normalised,” Professor Langton said.

Head coach of the Australia national netball team and member of the 2018 McKinnon Prize selection panel, Lisa Alexander said the biggest thing she had learnt in twenty years of high-performance sport was that people have to undertake their own self-improvement.

“I say to our young players, ‘At the end of the day, you are your own best coach.  You can have all the talent in the world, all the technical nous, tactical ability, but if you haven’t got the openness to learn continually, to grow, then you will be left behind at one stage or another’,” said Ms Alexander.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and member of the McKinnon Prize selection panel – alongside John Howard and a diverse group of distinguished Australians – said the book’s contributors force people to face up to the important questions in building a nation.

“The McKinnon Prize is a catalyst for engagement on leadership, its meaning, its capacity to advance the common good and what is true success,” Ms Gillard said.

“We are so fortunate to have the distilled wisdom of these extraordinary women and men as we further consider the question of what it means to be a leader.”

The McKinnon Prize is offered in two categories: the McKinnon Political Leader of the Year, for politicians with at least 5 years in office, and the McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year, for those with less than 5 years in office.

The 2018 Prize winners will be announced in late February and will speak at The McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership Oration on 13 March, where they will be awarded a trophy of recognition. The 2018 McKinnon Emerging Political Leader will also receive $20 000 to be used for professional development and growth.