Better Governance Dialogue
Blueprint Core Funding
Blueprint Institute is a new Australian think tank that exists to inform the public and influence policy outcomes. They leverage the expertise of their team to move the needle on critical policy issues, achieving this through high-quality, evidence-based research informed by rigorous economic analysis. Their current research spans ‘Tax & Fiscal Reform’, ‘Education’, and ‘Climate & Energy’. The Susan McKinnon Foundation provides core funding to support Blueprint to scale.
BZE Core Funding
Beyond Zero Emissions is an independent think tank focused on accelerating Australia to a prosperous zero-emissions future. They conduct and publish research on solutions that unlock economic potential for industries, regions and communities. They also showcase real-world projects as opportunities to prosper in a zero-emissions economy and supercharge their work through a network of volunteers. The Susan McKinnon Foundation has provided a three year commitment to core funding.
CIS Education Program
The Centre for Independent Studies Education program focuses on research and policy recommendations that improve the quality of teaching and student outcomes. They believe all children should have access to an education that is responsive to their needs as well as upholding high academic standards. CIS advocates for evidence-based improvements to our education system rather than an inputs-based approach, which has seen an increase in government spending without an associated improvement in education outcomes. Susan McKinnon provides ongoing funding to support this work.
CIS Prosperity Project
The Centre for Independent Studies has publicly advocated for improving Indigenous Australians’ outcomes since 2004. Their work has spanned health, education, employment, housing, private property rights, criminal justice, family violence and child protection reform, and has had a direct impact on government thinking on Indigenous issues. The Susan McKinnon Foundation provided a two-year commitment to support this work.
Climateworks Parliamentary Engagement Project
The Climateworks Parliamentary Engagement Project focused on educating Coalition parliamentarians and their key influencers about the risks and opportunities for climate action. This involved delivering non-partisan content through two initiatives – facilitating meetings between the UK Conservative Environment Network as well as State and Federal politicians and departments, and a two day workshop on climate science. The Susan McKinnon Foundation’s grant went to funding the costs for ClimateWorks project management and curriculum development.
CPD Core Funding
The Centre for Policy Development is a non-partisan, evidence-based think tank that builds bold and practical solutions for tough long-term policy problems. Its vision is for an economy that is clean and productive, a government that is active and effective, a society that expands opportunity and social justice, and a country that is respected for its leadership and cooperation. The Susan McKinnon Foundation provides core funding with a particular interest in its Climate Initiative and the Wellbeing Index.
David Cameron Australian Engagement Program
In 2022 Coalition for Conservation hosted its first National Conservative Climate Conference (NCCC). The Summit aimed to inform and educate Liberal and National policymakers on climate issues and provide a supportive forum for debate on climate policy. Funding from the Susan McKinnon Foundation contributed to the attendance of former UK Prime Minister David Cameron as keynote speaker. While in Australia the David Cameron also addressed the McKinnon Institute alumni.
e61 Core Funding
e61 Institute (e61) is a not-for-profit, non-partisan economic research institute that analyses big data to help answer Australia’s most pressing policy questions. Bringing together problem-solvers from academia, industry and government, e61 uses its analysis to help pave the way for stronger evidence-based policies. The Susan McKinnon Foundation provided the seed funding that helped to establish e61 Institute and is currently its major source of funding. The work of e61 strongly complements the Susan McKinnon Foundation’s focus on improving the quality of evidence and ideas that feed into policymaking.
ELA Core Funding
Environmental Leadership Australia is laying the groundwork for bipartisan support for more ambitious climate policy at state and federal levels. ELA’s approach is to incubate, support, fund and coordinate a network of groups that have the potential to reach Coalition voters and MPs in a way that the traditional environment and climate groups cannot. The Susan McKinnon Foundation’s core funding was auspiced by CANA.
Evidence Based Policy Research Project
The Susan McKinnon Foundation seeks to improve the policymaking processes of governments, with the ultimate goal of greater rigour and transparency. SMF funded the research program for the Evidence Based Policy Research Project (EBPRP), an independent not-for-profit that advocated for evidence and consultation-based public policy making. Having achieved its goal of the adoption of Statements of Public Interest by the NSW Legislative Council, the EBPRP has now come to an end.
Federal Transparency and Accountability Project
The decrease in public trust in politics is not helped by the increasing number of corruption scandals hitting our press and the perceived lack of accountability in our political system. The Australia Institute has been advocating for a Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption since early 2017 to ensure our elected representatives are held to account. The National Accountability and Corrruption Commission (NACC) was legislated late in 2022. The Susan McKinnon Foundation provided ongoing funding to support the The Australia Institute’s research and advocacy for a National anti-corruption commission.
Four Year Terms
There is a case for extending the Parliamentary term of the House of Representatives to four years from the current three years. The Parliamentary term is specified in the Australian Constitution and a referendum will be needed to achieve change. This project seeks to ensure that an eventual referendum is successful. Research and development work is underway to build the case for the reform in itself and to establish a consensus as to model and approach.
Grattan Core Funding
The Grattan Institute is an independent, non-partisan think tank, committed to producing policy analysis and recommendations that are grounded in evidence, geared to the national good, and expressed clearly and powerfully, without fear or favour. The Susan McKinnon Foundation provides unfettered funding to the Grattan Institute, supporting them to maintain their independence as they work to identify rigorous and practical solutions to Australia’s most pressing problems.
Grattan Education Program
The Grattan Institute’s Scaling Up project will investigate whether establishing more formal school ‘networks’ in Australia can drive better outcomes for students by extending effective leadership and successful operating models across multiple schools. This research will be based on conducting case studies of seven high performing networks in the UK and US to test their hypothesis that there are five key ways that school networks can improve outcomes for students.
Grattan Energy Reports
In 2021 the Susan McKinnon Foundation funded The Grattan Institute to deliver a series of five sector-based climate change policy papers. The papers covered electricity, stationary energy and fugitives, transport, agriculture and land use, and industrial processes and waste. Each paper included an analysis of the emissions sources, pathways and technologies for reductions, technological and economic challenges, relationship with existing government initiatives, and sector-specific recommendations.
Grattan Immigration Research
In Australia’s second year of COVID-19 restrictions and closed national borders, The Grattan Institute undertook a research program to develop a practical plan for restarting migration while minimising the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks. This plan included policy recommendations on how to use the reopening of migration to reset Australia’s migration policy and better serve the needs of the Australian community.
Grattan Integrity – Spoils of Power
The Grattan Institute’s Spoils of Power report focused on three areas in the lead up to the 2022 Federal Election: jobs for mates, pork-barrelling and ‘other spoils of power’, including the use of government advertising budgets, the politicisation of contracting and misuse of political entitlements. This work was funded as part of The Susan McKinnon Foundation’s Accountability and Integrity program across 2022 and 2023.
Grattan Orange Book
The Susan McKinnon Foundation provided a grant that funded the publication of The Grattan Institute’s ‘Orange Book’ in the lead up to the 2018 Victorian State elections and the 2019 NSW State elections. The Orange Book tracked how State Governments were performing in key areas and provided them with an evidence base to inform reforms and policy orientations. This publication compared Australian States across key dimensions in an accessible way, identified the key priorities for State government reforms and explained which policies would make the most difference to residents.
Guardian Civic Journalism Project
The Guardian Civic Journalism Initiative Trust is a partnership between the Centre for Advancing Journalism (based in the University of Melbourne) and the Guardian Australia, which raises questions on governance and accountability. The Susan McKinnon Foundation provided seed funding for specialist reporting and educational activities on governance and political accountability.
Integrity and Transparency Research
The Centre for Public Integrity is an independent think tank dedicated to preventing corruption, protecting the integrity of our accountability institutions, reining in executive power, and eliminating undue influence of money in politics in Australia. The organisation collaborates with academic experts, legal practitioners and retired judges to conduct research on critical integrity reform. The Susan McKinnon Foundation provides core funding to the Centre of Public Integrity.
McKinnon Institute for Political Leadership
The McKinnon Institute for Political Leadership is Australia’s only organisation dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness of political leadership through professional development for members of Australia’s parliaments. Founded in 2019, it is a partnership between Monash University and the Susan McKinnon Foundation. The programs are designed and delivered with academic rigour combined with pragmatic practitioner expertise – with the goal of providing courses tailored to be highly relevant and full of implementable insights for MPs.
McKinnon Leaders Symposium Pilot
Designed and delivered by experts, and facilitated by the Melbourne School of Government, the McKinnon Leaders’ Symposium was a pilot program to identify, attract and support talented individuals from diverse backgrounds to enter public and political life confidently and effectively. This Symposium was a two day residential pilot program for 25 Australian leaders that have demonstrated success in their chosen fields, but are not yet actively participating in Australia’s public and political sectors.
McKinnon Poll Extended Pilot
The McKinnon Poll Research Program aims to encourage better policymaking by providing a richer and more in-depth understanding of public opinion as an input into the policymaking process. It does this by commissioning high quality public opinion research on topics that are of significant policy interest, but where there is potentially a gap between actual public opinion and policymakers’ understanding of public opinion.
McKinnon Poll Pilot
The Susan McKinnon Foundation funded the newDemocracy Foundation to conduct three public opinion polls. The purpose of the three polls (collectively ‘the Pilot’) was to explore the potential for opinion polling to improve the quality of public policy decision making in Australia. In the Pilot, opinion polls with distinct methodologies were conducted, and the results shared with Members of Parliament, government agencies and other interest groups.
McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership
The McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership was established in 2017 to recognise political leaders at all levels of government who have driven positive impact through their vision, collaboration, courage and ethical behaviour. The purpose of McKinnon Prize is to advocate for our democracy by acknowledging and encouraging good political leadership. Since its inception, the McKinnon Prize has recognised the work of leaders who build trust, inspire others, and ultimately contribute to better quality policy and higher quality governance.
National Energy Market Research
The Susan McKinnon Foundation supported The Australia Institute’s research and advocacy campaign for National Energy Market reforms. This campaign aimed to drive policy changes that, in the medium term, would lower costs, enhance security and reduce emissions.
Policymaking in the Public Interest
The Susan McKinnon Foundation funded and is now continuing to build on the successes of the Evidence-Based Policy Research Project, with the goal of strengthening policy-making processes such that they are more transparent, evidence-informed, and focused on delivering for the public good.
Public Interest Journalism Initiative (PIJI)
The Public Interest Journalism Initiative seeks to identify policy solutions to secure funding for a sustainable Australian public interest journalism ecosystem. With the collapse of the business model which traditionally funded most public interest journalism, the sector is rapidly declining. This is a threat to citizens’ access to information, accountability and transparency, and eventually to the strength of our democracy. PIJI has been auspiced by University of Melbourne, The Conversation and newDemocracy over the lifecycle of The Susan McKinnon Foundation’s funding, which helped to establish PIJI.
Reset Australia – Social Media and Democracy
Reset Australia works to raise awareness and advocates for better policy to address digital threats our democracy. They do this by developing and promoting a public policy agenda that sets fair rules and standards for Big Tech companies that align with democratic values in Australia. Their strategy drives policy reform across content moderation, data privacy, elections, security, child safety and protection from foreign interference. The Susan McKinnon Foundation supports Reset’s work on protecting electoral integrity in Australia.
This program is born from SMF’s vision for Australia’s publicly funded services to be of the highest possible quality, delivering positive impacts for citizens in a way that represents excellent value-for-money and is fiscally sustainable. The objective is to enable and advocate for lasting improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of publicly funded services. Through research, stakeholder engagement and consultation, the Susan McKinnon Foundation will identify key levers for delivering better outcomes in public service delivery organisations, and provide practical guidance to resource pilots, evaluations and scale-up of best practice models in sectors such as corrections, health, and social services.
The Democracy Documentary Project
The Democracy Documentary Project is a social impact documentary that follows actor and comedian Christiaan Van Vuuren (Soul Mates; Bondi Hipsters) as he pulls back the curtain on the relationship between money and power in Australia. Produced by Jungle Entertainment as a project for the Documentary Australia Foundation, the show investigated how money has infiltrated Australia’s democratic system, including corporate and political donations and the role of lobbyists. It aired on ABC in a two part series in October 2021. The Susan McKinnon Foundation made a small contribution to the production of this series.
Truth in Political Advertising
Inaccurate and misleading advertising during election campaigns has the power to undermine our democracy, distort election outcomes and compromise trust in our democratic institutions. Truth in political advertising laws would enable the public to have more confidence in our democratic system. The Susan McKinnon Foundation has funded the establishment of a Truth in Political Advertising Program at The Australia Institute, with the objective of identifying gaps in the current system and develop proposed reforms.
The Whistle-blower Reform project focuses on advocating for stronger protections for Australian whistleblowers and aims to build on the governments initial Public Interest Disclosure Act reform. This program focuses on improving the law and providing practical support for whistleblowers ensuring that whistleblowers can safely and lawfully speak up about wrongdoing without facing the risk of criminal prosecution or civil lawsuits.