Advanced Political Leadership2024-05-17T10:46:17+10:00

Advanced Political Leadership

Australia’s first advanced leadership course for members of parliament who are potential ministers in the short to medium term.

Congratulations to our 2024
Advanced Political Leadership Cohort

Hon Emily Bourke MLC
Anita Dow MP
Paul Edbrooke MP
Julia Finn MP
Senator Nita Green
Katie Hall MP
Charishma Kaliyanda MP
Peter Khalil MP
The Hon Aileen MacDonald OAM MLC
Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy
Zoe McKenzie MP
Evan Mulholland MP
Danny O’Brien MP
Dr Marisa Paterson MLA
Kellie Sloane MP
Sam Telfer MP
Kat Theophanous MP
Aaron Violi MP
Keith Wolahan MP

Advanced Political Leadership (APL) is Australia’s first advanced leadership course for members of parliament
who are potential ministers in the short to medium term.

APL is a selective, cohort-based program that supports participants to reflect on the role of ministers in our governance, their personal leadership needs and challenges, and the strategic policy challenges they and Australia will face over the decade ahead.

This unique program has been developed with insights from experienced and successful political leaders. It is practical and applied, challenging participants to prepare for their future roles through self-reflection, structured small group work and whole-of-cohort dialogues.

Supported by professional facilitation, participants will have the opportunity to hear from and engage with an unparalleled line up of:

  • Former leaders, ministers and senior advisers;
  • Highly respected policy and public service leaders; and
  • Global thought leaders on a range of policy, politics and leadership topics.

APL is a non-partisan program that is open to MPs from the federal, state and territory parliaments.

Our previous presenters have included:

  • The Hon Mike Baird AO Former Premier of New South Wales
  • The Hon Julie Bishop Former Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Sally Cray Former Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
  • Dr Alan Finkel AO Former Australian Chief Scientist
  • Ben Hubbard Former Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister
  • The Hon Jenny Macklin Former Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs, and Disability Reform
  • Sam Mostyn AO President, Chief Executive Women
  • Professor Beth Noveck Director, The Governance Lab, New York University
  • Dennis Richardson AO Former Secretary, DFAT; Former Secretary, Department of Defence; Former Australian Ambassador to the USA
  • Professor Anthea Roberts School of Regulation and Global Governance Australian National University
  • Helen Silver AO Former Secretary, Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet
  • The Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO Australian Ambassador to the USA; Former Cabinet Minister; Former Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister
  • Professor Gary Sturgess AM NSW Premier’s ANZSOG Chair of Public Service Delivery
  • Jeff Whalan AO Jeff Whalan Learning Group
  • Danielle Wood CEO, Grattan Institute

Other activities


Party elders to guide and support.

Alumni Network

Enabling ongoing connections for Fellows and participants, to build the McKinnon Institute community.

Research & Publications

Curating McKinnon Institute’s unique knowledge base of political leadership.

Marketing & Events

Tailored events and communications to build participants’ networks and knowledge.


Ministers reflect

The Institute for Government in the UK is often an excellent source of insight on [...]

  • Bridget Archer MP
  • Senator the Hon. Anthony Chisholm
  • Annabelle Cleeland MP
  • Pat Conaghan MP
  • Deb Frecklington MP
  • Laura Gerber MP
  • Hon. Heidi Girolamo MLC
  • The Hon Patrick Gorman MP
  • Ali King MP
  • Jason Yat-sen Li MP
  • Hon Reggie Martin MLC
  • Libby Mettam MLA
  • Alicia Payne MP
  • Brad Rowswell MP
  • Jessica Shaw MLA
  • Phillip Thompson OAM MP
  • Senator Jess Walsh
  • Sheena Watt MLC
  • Rebecca White MP
  • Angie Bell MP
  • Josh Burns MP
  • Amanda Camm MP
  • The Hon. Mia Davies MLA
  • The Hon. Felix Ellis MP
  • The Hon. Scott Farlow MLC
  • The Hon. John Graham MLC
  • Ella Haddad MP
  • Nicole Lawder MLA
  • Julian Leeser MP
  • Peta Murphy MP
  • Sam O’Connor MP
  • Senator James Paterson
  • Gurmesh Singh MP
  • Senator Marielle Smith
  • Kate Thwaites MP
  • The Hon. Andrew Wallace MP
  • Josh Wilson MP
  • Dr Katie Allen MP
  • Senator Andrew Bragg
  • Sharon Claydon MP
  • The Hon. Mark Coure MP
  • Senator Perin Davey
  • The Hon. James Griffin MP
  • Jo Haylen MP
  • Julian Hill MP
  • Sonya Kilkenny MP
  • Dr Fiona Martin MP
  • Senator Jenny McAllister
  • Lance McCallum MP
  • Dr Daniel Mulino MP
  • Hon Amanda Rishworth MP
  • Tim Watts MP
  • The Hon. Tim Wilson MP

What our scholars say about us

Australia needs the absolute best Ministers. This course helps deliver them. Put simply, you will be better at your job following the McKinnon Advanced Leadership program. I am so glad that I forced the time into my diary to do this. You should too. The course reminds you of your strengths and helps you build the skills of modern political leadership. It connects you with other thinkers, challenging ideas, and new ways of being an effective leader. Instead of dragging one another down, the McKinnon course helps lift up the quality of politicians and their decisions. A bipartisan cohort of federal and state parliamentarians, along with Australia’s leading academics, helps build new perspectives and relationships.

The Hon Patrick Gorman MP
Federal Member for Perth
Advanced Political Leadership 2023

I cannot speak highly enough of the program. It was eye opening, challenging and overall a fantastic experience.The quality and range of the presenters was an absolute privilege for us to experience, a lifetime's worth of interactions with thought leaders compressed into one program. I had high expectations going into the course, and they were well and truly exceeded. I feel better equipped as a parliamentarian having completed the program.

The Hon Reggie Martin MLC
Member of the Legislative Council, South Australian Parliament
Advanced Political Leadership 2023

As our community evolves and progresses, so must the way members of parliament respond to and serve their community. At its heart, this is what the McKinnon Institute’s Advanced Political Leadership course helps MPs to do.APL gave participants not just the practical tools, but the connections and courage to do politics differently; to prepare to contribute as a government minister. The McKinnon Institute – and the APL program – exists to help MPs to make the best decisions and bring about the most amount of good. It is my hope that the opportunity we have had will drive improvement in the lives of every Australian.

Brad Rowswell MP
Member for Sandringham, Parliament of Victoria
Advanced Political Leadership 2023

The Advanced Political Leadership course was an informative and really valuable experience. I was very thankful to have the opportunity to participate in the course.The quality of the presenters and the breadth of topics that we covered were highly relevant, and informative to me and my colleagues who were participating. Allowing us to pause and reflect on what we seek to achieve while we are in these privileged positions and how we can enact this change. I feel as though I have come away from the course with more skills to ensure I am able to deliver for the Australian people. I recommend the McKinnon Leadership to all Members of Parliament who are wanting to develop their skills and leadership.

Senator the Hon Anthony Chisholm
Senator for Queensland
Advanced Political Leadership 2023

The McKinnon Institute's Advanced Political Leadership Program has been a real career highlight. It is not often in politics that you get the opportunity to participate in professional development programs. The APL is such a well-rounded program and gives me the opportunity to meet other members of parliament from around the nation. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to enhance and build on my own personal and professional skills. The calibre of presenters was extraordinary and very well planned and executed. Thank you to the McKinnon Institute for this incredible opportunity.

Hon Heidi Girolamo MLC
Member of the Legislative Council, South Australian Parliament
Advanced Political Leadership 2023

Space to engage with big ideas and meet and learn from tested leaders is a luxury you seldom get in the maelstrom of political life.The McKinnon Institute Advanced Political Leadership Program deeply changed the way I approach my role as an MP. It was an extraordinary experience, put together with great dedication by an extraordinary team. I enjoyed and benefited from every moment and am a better parliamentarian for it.

Ali King MP
Member for Pumicestone, Queensland Parliament
Advanced Political Leadership 2023

The McKinnon Advanced Political Leadership program was an incredible personal and professional development experience. In an occupation where we seem to be constantly ‘in the moment’ and have very little time to lift our eyes to the horizon, it provided a fantastic opportunity to pause, consider the very nature of an MP’s role in parliamentary democracy, how we might improve government and strengthen democratic institutions, and how we might more meaningfully make a contribution to our constituencies and broader society. The ability to learn from such a rich array of diverse and experienced speakers – and from other scholars – is unique. Working with MPs from around Australia and from both sides of the aisle was particularly enriching. At a time where we so easily retreat into extreme partisan politics, the program allowed us to share experiences, understand genuine points of difference more deeply and appreciate common perspectives. I particularly enjoyed the policy project: testing my own thoughts and seeing how others approach some of the most challenging and complex issues our society faces. The program creates a safe place for dangerous ideas: it’s completely unique to the current Australian political experience.

Jessica Shaw MLA
Member for Swan Hills, WA Parliament
Advanced Political Leadership 2023

As a recent participant in the Advanced Political Leadership Course at the renowned McKinnon Institute, I can confidently attest to the invaluable learning and preparation it provides for aspiring government ministers. The program's comprehensive curriculum, expert faculty, and immersive learning experience have equipped me with the knowledge and skills necessary to be effective in today's complex political landscape. One of the most significant benefits of the course is its emphasis on practical leadership and governance strategies. Through interactive seminars, case studies, and simulations, I gained a deep understanding of policy formulation, crisis management, negotiation, and decision-making processes. These practical experiences have not only broadened my perspective on effective governance but have also sharpened my ability to navigate real-world political challenges with confidence and astuteness. Furthermore, the McKinnon Institute's faculty comprises distinguished political leaders, scholars, and practitioners who bring a wealth of expertise and insights to the classroom. Their mentorship and guidance have been instrumental in honing my leadership acumen and understanding of best practices in public administration. Moreover, the institute's extensive network of alumni and industry connections has provided me with valuable opportunities for ongoing learning, collaboration, and professional growth. By developing a deep understanding of ethical leadership, public policy analysis, and strategic communication, I am now better equipped to contribute to the creation of more effective and responsive government. The course has instilled in me a commitment to ethical governance, evidence-based decision-making, and inclusive leadership, which are essential qualities for future government ministers seeking to enact positive change and serve their constituents with integrity. In conclusion, the Advanced Political Leadership Course at the McKinnon Institute has been an enriching and transformative experience that has prepared me to be a more effective and visionary leader in government. I highly recommend this program to any individual aspiring to make a meaningful impact as a politician.

Phillip Thompson OAM MP
Federal Member for Herbert
Advanced Political Leadership 2023

The Advanced Political Leadership program delivered by the McKinnon Institute is a rare and completely unique opportunity for parliamentarians to step out of the day to day of political life and reflect on what we hope to achieve for our country during our time in office and how best to achieve it. I’m grateful for the insights gained about how to navigate complex policy issues, achieve ambitious reform and deliver for our constituents. The program also provided a forum for honest dialogue with parliamentary colleagues across the aisle about the challenges our country faces, and the shared sacrifices and burdens of public life. I thoroughly recommend it.

Senator James Paterson
Senator for Victoria
Advanced Political Leadership 2022 Graduate

To the incredibly dedicated team at the McKinnon Institute, thank you for the fantastic opportunity to be a scholar in the Class of 2022 from your Advanced Political Leadership Program. It was clear from day one that the coursework and guest presenters were relevant, meaningful and thought provoking across wide and varied topics and discussions. As a professional development opportunity for MPs and Senators, I highly recommend this course to those who seek to develop the necessary skills to prepare for the road ahead-life in politics and beyond.

Angie Bell MP
Federal Member for Moncrieff
Advanced Political Leadership 2022 Graduate

I was very fortunate to be one of the MPs who participated in the 2022 McKinnon Institute Advanced Political Leadership program. Throughout this year’s program, we experienced a series of workshops, and a week-long residential intensive program full of high-quality presentations from experts in politics, academia, economics and foreign policy. One of the most valuable aspects of participating in the McKinnon Institute was getting to know MPs from other states and other parties. The McKinnon Institute granted us the unique experience of engaging in deep thinking on where our country is, where it can go and what our role is to lead it there. Anyone who is serious about the craft of politics and the future of our country should seriously consider applying for the McKinnon Institute’s Advanced Political Leadership program.

Josh Burns MP
Federal Member for Macnamara
Advanced Political Leadership 2022 Graduate

I am very grateful to have been able to participate in this amazing program. The calibre of presenters and the depth and breadth of knowledge was outstanding. I learned so much and took away useful tools, knowledge and contacts. Collaborative and supportive environment. Highly recommend the Advanced Political Leadership course.

Nicole Lawder MLA
State Member for Brindabella, ACT Parliament
Advanced Political Leadership 2022 Graduate

When you’re elected to Parliament there is a very steep learning curve. It can take months to learn the ropes and longer again to be competent and comfortable in the role. And unlike the commercial sector, there is very little relevant professional development available to MP’s. The McKinnon Institute’s Advanced Political Leadership Program builds on the skills MP’s have built early in their careers so they can become the next generation of leaders - leaders who are more effectively able to deliver on their visions because they have the right tools and training. The course covers a broad range of topics and encourages participants to think deeply about why they entered politics and how they can be most effective at their jobs. I particularly enjoyed some of the theory we learnt about power and leadership – they’re lessons that carry over beyond parliament. Any MP who is serious about taking the next step in their career should seriously consider this course – you won’t regret it.

Gurmesh Singh MP
State Member for Coffs Harbour, NSW Parliament
Advanced Political Leadership 2022 Graduate

I commend the McKinnon Institute for the APL course, and thank them for the opportunity to engage with expert practitioners in politics, public service, policy institutions and the media. This was a unique opportunity to learn alongside colleagues from State and Federal Parliaments from different political Parties, challenging us to explore how we might practically enhance our nation’s democratic system, our Parliament and improve outcomes for our constituents. As a Member of Parliament for 14 years, having served as a Minister and a Leader of my Party, I found it to be instructive, affirming and thought-provoking. I would recommend APL without hesitation to my colleagues from both sides of the Chamber.

The Hon Mia Davies MLA
Member for Central Wheatbelt, WA Parliament
Advanced Political Leadership 2022 Graduate

The Advanced Political Leadership Program is an opportunity to step back from the daily cut and thrust of politics and reflect on why you’re there and what you want to do. The McKinnon Institute was able to draw together some of the greatest leaders and minds for a real-world perspective on political leadership, warts and all. The course covers the entire gamut of challenges on your political journey and you’re able to engage in a way where you get a practical and lived experience of how to get things done. It’s rare in politics to be able to get this opportunity and I’d recommend the Advanced Political Leadership Program to all of my colleagues not just for their own development, but the development of better public policy across our Parliaments.

The Hon Scott Farlow MLC
Member of the Legislative Council, NSW Parliament
Advanced Political Leadership 2022 Graduate

The programs of the McKinnon Institute are professional, engaging and targeted to parliamentarians wanting to undertake professional development. Through undertaking relevant courses, colleagues have better equipped themselves to meet the challenges of political leadership, whilst also enhancing their promotion prospects. I thoroughly recommend MPs personally invest in a McKinnon program.

Hon Jonathan O’Dea MP
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Member for Davidson
Political Leadership for 2021

I was honoured and excited to be selected for the inaugural McKinnon Institute Australian Political Leadership Program. The sessions were well presented covering both theoretical as well as real world experience. Working with a cross-partisan cohort from State and Federal jurisdictions ensured we didn’t get mired down in policy conversations but focused on the “how” of delivering on policies. I definitely think that through this Program…I will be better prepared to navigate the system, work with the bureaucracy and deliver effective programs.

Senator Perin Davey
Senator for New South Wales
Advanced Political Leadership 2021

I enjoyed getting different perspectives from other MP’s and political people from around the country about topical issues particularly COVID-19 and the response.

Shane King MP
Member for Kurwongbah, Queensland Parliament
Political Leadership for 2021

APL was a fantastic program. It provided me with the tools and insights to be effectively prepared to become a Minister. I found the speakers engaging and content incredibly useful. I cannot recommend the course highly enough to other Parliamentarians.

Hon James Griffin MP
Minister for Environment and Heritage & Member for Manly
Advanced Political Leadership 2021

Ministers play a central role in the Westminster system. Many who take on this role do so after having gained some experience as a backbencher. However, there are qualitative differences in the role of being a minister that many are unprepared for: making decisions as part of a team and then collectively owning those decisions; working directly with the public service; crafting and seeking the passage of legislation; and assuming responsibility for the messy implementation of agreed policy in the real world. The Advanced Political Leadership course fills a gap by offering early and mid-career politicians aspiring to become a minister with both the theoretical and practical tools to be better prepared should a future opportunity arise. It is wide in scope yet uniformly exceptional in both the quality of course content and the standard of high-profile expert presenters. Participating in the course was extremely useful in helping me to think about the longer term needs of my electorate and society more generally.

Dr Daniel Mulino MP
Member for Fraser
Advanced Political Leadership 2021

When I was first asked to be a part of this course, I thought two things — firstly, do I really need to do this, and secondly, do I have time for this?

Well, the answer to the first question was yes — I absolutely needed to do this, and the answer to the second part of the question — I have to find time to do this, there's no excuse. We've never experienced a situation like COVID-19, whether as a Member of Parliament and as a member of the community. It's something that we are learning to deal with.

So what the McKinnon Institute team are doing is absolutely brilliant and we need you to keep doing it, and we need to be encouraging our colleagues to attend more of your courses. So, thank you for putting this all together.

John Ajaka
Former President of the NSW Legislative Council
Political Leadership for 2020 Graduate

In a year of so many obstacles and unprecedented events such as drought, bushfires and of course the COVID-19 pandemic, the course provided a unique environment to help shape our approach and objective thinking, as we are tasked with responding to these crises.

The expert guest speakers across the various panels and modules of the course were brilliantly diverse and well versed in their fields. They provided excellent first-hand experience, advice and challenges for us to consider, for which I am grateful.

Please know that I shall have no hesitation in commending the course to colleagues and political affiliates considering undertaking professional development. Raising the standard for our civic leaders is vital and the opportunity to participate in such a forum is most worthwhile.

The Hon. Natalie Ward MLC
Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General
Parliament of New South Wales
Political Leadership for 2020 Graduate

If you’d like to know more, we’d love to hear from you.

If you would like to get involved and find out more about our upcoming courses,
please get in touch with our team who can assist you.

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