Health minister award for COVID handling

·2-min read

Australia's health minister Greg Hunt has been awarded a political leadership prize for his "courageous and collaborative" contribution to combating COVID-19.

The McKinnon Prize, which has previously honoured recipients including Labor's Penny Wong and NSW Liberal premier Gladys Berejiklian, is promoted as non-partisan and independent.

Mr Hunt was confirmed the 2020 winner on Saturday.

A selection panel including former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard, along with sporting and media representatives, contributed to the judging.

In its citation for Mr Hunt, prize partners the Susan McKinnon Foundation and Melbourne School of Government, said the health minister listened to scientific advice about the pandemic and acted in the best interests of Australians.

"(Mr) Hunt drove Australia's vaccine acquisition strategy and steered the reforms to Medicare-funded telehealth which ensured Australians under lockdown - or subject to movement restrictions - could receive remote medical care," the announcement said.

He was also credited for contributing to the decision to ban flights from China, while ensuring supply lines for critical medical equipment remained open.

"The real heroes of the pandemic have been the Australian public and our health workers," Mr Hunt said after hearing news of the award.

"The way Australians have worked together during what has been perhaps our most difficult year since 1945 reminds us that there is so much that is good about our country and our people."

Labor's Anne Aly was named Emerging Political Leader of the Year for advocating to reduce violence against women and children and exposing right-wing extremist groups to greater government scrutiny.

An MP in the federal lower house since 2016, representing the electorate of Cowan in Western Australia, the 54-year-old hopes the award encourages other women to get involved with politics.

"While I have been involved in policy and government initiatives for most of my career, the role I have played in these two key policy areas has been especially rewarding."

Award nominees included Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian premier Daniel Andrews.

NOMINEES LIST

McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership:

* Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria (VIC)

* Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party (VIC)

* Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care (VIC)

* Matt Kean, Minister for Energy and Environment (NSW)

* Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia (NSW)

* Ken Wyatt, Minister for Indigenous Australians (WA)

McKinnon Prize in Emerging Political Leadership:

* Anne Aly, Member for Cowan (WA)

* Fiona Cunningham, Brisbane City Councilor (QLD)

* Helen Haines, Member for Indi (VIC)

* Elizabeth Lee, Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Attorney-General, Member for Kurrajong (ACT)

* Carol Sparks, Mayor of Glen Innes Severn Council (NSW)

* Zali Steggall, Member for Warringah (NSW).