16 February 2021

Elizabeth Lee nominated for emerging political leader award

| Dominic Giannini
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Elizabeth Lee

Opposition leader Elizabeth Lee has been nominated for the 2020 McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year award. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee has been nominated for the 2020 McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year award for speaking out against sexual harassment and racism.

Ms Lee came out in June last year and said that she had been persistently sexually propositioned by former High Court judge Dyson Heydon at the 2013 University of Canberra law ball.

She chose to speak out about the incident after being inspired by the actions of the judge’s associates who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment by Mr Heydon.

Hundreds of people were nominated in 2020, but only six were shortlisted for the award. Ms Lee will be up against Federal Labor MP Anne Aly, Brisbane City Councillor Fiona Cunningham, the Federal member for Indi Dr Helen Haines, Mayor of Glen Innes Severn Council Carol Sparks and the federal member for Warringah Zali Steggall.

Ms Lee is the first Asian-Australian to lead a major political party in Australia, a fact that has not been lost on her party room with Yerrabi MLA Leanne Castley saying there is no doubt Ms Lee is an outstanding leader.

“We all know the migrant story, they work their butt off,” she said. “They come and work hard to build a life for themselves and she has done that and that should be recognised.

“She has worked her way up and done a great job. She is also great fun and an amazing mother. I am really excited for her.”

READ ALSO Meet Elizabeth Lee, the Liberals’ new hope to end a quarter-century in opposition

Deputy Canberra Liberals leader, Giulia Jones, also lauded the direction that Ms Lee was moving the party after taking over the leadership in October.

“Elizabeth is an outstanding leader who is highly engaged with her constituents and devoted to achieving positive outcomes for the entire community,” she said.

“Now as the first female leader of the Canberra Liberals in 20 years, Elizabeth is a passionate advocate for all people in the ACT, particularly vulnerable Canberrans.”

Elizabeth Lee and Giulia Jones

Elizabeth Lee (left) and her deputy Giulia Jones after becoming Opposition leader in October 2020. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

McKinnon Prize Ambassador Simon Crean said good political leadership was judged against positive change through vision, courage, collaboration and decisiveness.

“It’s important we celebrate these emerging leaders at a grassroots level,” he said.

“All the most important progress that has been made in politics in Australia, from our suffragettes to marriage equality and many more examples besides, began at the grassroots. We must continue to encourage people to get involved.”

Judges for the prize include Julia Gillard, Mike Baird and Sabra Lane.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Health Minister Greg Hunt, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean and Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt have all been shortlisted for the 2020 McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership.

The winners of the two prizes will be announced in March.

More information about the Prize is available at the McKinnon Prize website, www.mckinnonprize.org.au.

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What an uninspiring list of nominees to be perfectly honest.

Matt Kean should win it for mine for standing up to intense lobbying from within his own party to try and deliver policy reform with positive long terms effects, rather than pandering to narrow visioned interest groups.

Well done to Elizabeth Lee for being nominated – her big challenge of her capabilities is yet to come, in genuinely holding the government to account, and providing a genuine alternative policy agenda for the next election, not one based on ridiculous stunts like last year’s meek effort was.

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