Archer and Pocock picked as country’s top politicians

Senator David Pocock has been named McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year for 2023.

Senator David Pocock has been named McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year for 2023. Photo: AAP

A rookie crossbencher and a habitual floor crosser have been recognised as two of Australia’s most outstanding political leaders.

Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer has been awarded the 2023 McKinnon Political Leader of the Year prize in federal government, while independent senator David Pocock is the McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year for 2023.

Judged by some of the nation’s biggest names including ABC presenter Patricia Karvelas, Australia’s former chief scientist Alan Finkel and Macquarie University chancellor Martin Parkinson, the award panel noted Archer’s bravery.

“Ms Archer has consistently demonstrated rare courage by standing up for her principles and the interests of her constituents,” Parkinson said.

“Even when this has put her at odds with her party and threatened her career.”

During her five years in federal office, Archer has crossed the floor on at least seven occasions.

This includes the times she stood up for an anti-corruption commission, protections for transgender students and an end to the prosecution of whistleblowers, including David McBride and Julian Assange.

The Bass MP said she was committed to being a genuine and authentic representative for her electorate.

“As members of federal parliament, we are in the unique position to lead the conversation and ensure all voices are heard,” she said.

While Pocock is relatively new to the political game, he has stepped up as both a crossbench kingmaker and an independent mediator.

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

Before representing ACT constituents, Pocock represented Australia on international rugby fields and used his profile to advocate for a variety of causes.

He refused to get married until same-sex marriage was made legal in 2017 and sought to bring an Auslan interpreter to the Senate floor during his first speech in 2022.

“Being accessible, accountable and putting people first, above politics, is what I committed to doing,” Pocock said.

“They’re values Australians want to see and values that many winners of this prize share and it’s a privilege to be recognised alongside them.”

The McKinnon Prize is a collaboration between the Susan McKinnon Foundation and the University of Melbourne and is self-described as an “independent, non-partisan award for outstanding political leadership” that recognises politicians who have made a positive impact.

Past recipients include Foreign Minister Penny Wong, independent MP Helen Haines and former Liberal Health Minister Greg Hunt.


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