Former McKinsey partner Simon Kennedy set for parliament

06 March 2024 3 min. read
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Former McKinsey & Company partner Simon Kennedy has won a golden ticket to federal parliament after earning pre-selection for the safe Liberal seat of Cook, vacated by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Having failed in his 2022 federal election campaign in Bennelong, former McKinsey & Company management consultant Simon Kennedy is now as close to as guaranteed to take a place in the Australian parliament after having won pre-selection to contest the safe Liberal seat of Cook in the upcoming byelection, which was triggered by the departure of former prime minister Scott Morrison’s move into the ‘consulting realm’.

Joining in 2008 on the back of a law and commerce double at UNSW, Kennedy altogether spent the best part of a decade and a half at McKinsey & Company between Washington, New York and Sydney.

Former McKinsey partner Simon Kennedy set for parliament

Rising to partner in 2016, Kennedy departed five years later to try his hand at politics – having earlier spent time on secondment in the Department of the Australian Prime Minister and Cabinet during 2009 while working at the management consulting giant.

Credited with having co-founded McKinsey’s public sector practice in Australia – its biggest local money-spinner – Kennedy was thought to have had a reasonable chance at securing Bennelong at the 2022 federal election, being another Liberal ‘blue-ribbon’ seat long held by former prime minister John Howard and vacated by retiring tennis identity John Alexander. Kennedy, however, copped a near 10 percent swing, losing out to Labor’s Jerome Laxale on preferences.

With Labor suggesting it might not even bother contesting the Cook byelection and no strong independent candidates, Kennedy is now almost a certainty to join the federal fray alongside fellow McKinsey alum and current shadow treasurer Angus Taylor. Already facing scrutiny for having been ‘parachuted’ into the shire as an outsider, political and media attention has since turned to the Liberal party’s failure to select a female candidate.

Despite reports Morrison was riding off into the sunset to join the Donald Trump-linked advisory American Global Strategies, the former PM was on hand to defend his successor; “What matters when you do this job is the skills and talents and abilities that you bring, and you need to appreciate what this place is all about,” Morrison stated while strolling alongside Kennedy on the early campaign trail in Cronulla while the latter kept an eye out for vacant rental properties.

The criticism follows a Liberal review into its previous election slump recommending a target of equal female representation in parliament within a decade, with the current party room figure standing closer to 30 percent. It also comes at a time when Kennedy’s former firm was revealed in the Government’s recent Workplace Gender Equity Agency (WGEA) report on gender pay to be sitting at the bottom of the pile with a median total gap of 33.8%.

Notably, another McKinsey alumus in independent Wentworth member Allegra Spender, part of the wave of ‘teals’ who helped sweep the Liberals from office (and who may next time round face off against former Nous Group senior Freddie Gollan), has been one of the opposition party’s most vocal critics on gender, stating that the electorate would judge whether its claim to want greater female representation was just empty rhetoric based on the Cook pre-selection.