One of the most widely recognized identities in Australia, Maxine McKew’s career spans both politics and journalism.
In the 2007 federal election Maxine McKew won a spectacular victory against John Howard and wrote herself into Australian political history by defeating a sitting Prime Minister in a seat that had only ever been held by the Liberal Party.
As the member for Bennelong Maxine McKew secured over $200 million in funding for her electorate, principally in the areas of health, education and disability care. She was also active with the local business community and championed the cause of the many research and technology companies in the expanding Macquarie Park complex. This work has been recognized with her recent appointment in September 2010 to the Dean’s Advisory Council for Macquarie University’s School of Advanced Medicine.
On coming to political office Maxine McKew was immediately elevated to the executive and was sworn in as Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education in December of 2007. In this capacity, she led Labor’s reform agenda and through COAG secured agreement with the states for the first national standards on a quality framework for childcare and pre-schools. She was also responsible for delivering $970m to the states and territories, which has helped secure access for all Australian children to quality pre-school.
In June 2009 Maxine McKew took on responsibility for local government and regional development working as Parliamentary Secretary to Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese. In her time in this portfolio, she established the Regional Development Australia network, a first in terms of integrated regional governance, and now a critical part of the Commonwealth Government’s renewed focus on better infrastructure for regional Australia.
In government Maxine McKew also developed a particular interest in the work of the Major Cities unit within Infrastructure Australia. She is a strong advocate for federal government investment in our metropolitan centres and has consistently argued that our cities can accommodate larger populations if we improve our planning systems and bring together the best in modern design and technology.
In recent times, she addressed this issue in a speech at the Bella dinner at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The full text is available on her web site www.maxinemckew.com.au
In her time in politics Maxine McKew established a reputation for responsiveness and effective advocacy. She has strong mediation skills and brings a direct cut-through approach to the most complex of negotiations. These talents were refined following a thirty-year career as a broadcast and print journalist.
She began her career as a cadet on This Day Tonight at the ABC’s Brisbane office in 1975. Maxine honed her reporting and interviewing skills on the ABC’s flagship current affairs programmes, Nationwide, The Carleton-Walsh Report, and AM and PM. Her hosting of Lateline in the mid 1990’s and later as the part-time anchor of the 7.30 Report earned her a reputation as one of the country’s most authoritative interviewers.
Peer recognition has come through successive awards, including a Walkely and a Logie award for broadcasting excellence, the Magazine Publishers’ Award for Columnist of the Year, and a Centenary Medal in 2003. Between 1999 and 2004 Maxine was also a regular writer for the Bulletin magazine. Lunch with Maxine McKew produced countless candid conversations with Australia’s policy makers and resulted in her inclusion in the Australian Financial Review’s Power List for 2003.
In her time in journalism Maxine interviewed a host of international figures including Tony Blair, Madelyn Albright, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Fidel Ramos, and Sir Julius Chan.
Maxine’s broadcast career also took her to North America for a period in the late 1980’s as foreign correspondent reporting for the ABC and then the Ten Network from New York and Washington. As a result Maxine maintains a strong interest in U.S. politics and for many years was a regular participant in the annual Australia/U.S. Leadership Dialogue.
Over the years this diverse background attracted the interest of the corporate world and Maxine was a sought after speaker and facilitator at numerous corporate and industry events. Maxine has always been a strong advocate of opportunities for women, both in her own industry and in the wider workforce. Her voluntary activities have included the chairmanship of the Advisory Council to the National Breast Cancer Centre and membership of the University of Sydney’s Research Institute for Asia Pacific. She has also served as patron for Osteoporosis Australia and as a member of the Sydney Symphony Council. Maxine is an Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Australia and has recently taken on a role with the not for profit group Social Ventures Australia.
Maxine was born in Brisbane and attended All Hallows’ Convent and studied at the University of Queensland.