• Hon. Enterprise Professor (UoM)
  • Board director
  • Author
  • Public speaker
  • Discussion facilitator
Image credit: David Caird, for Stellar Magazine.
Image credit: David Caird, for Stellar Magazine.


Maxine McKew is an author and Hon Enterprise Professor of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne.

Her most recent book, published by Melbourne University Press in 2014, is Class Act – a study of the key challenges in Australian schooling. This publication followed the success of her memoir, Tales From the Political Trenches, an account of her brief but tumultuous time in the Federal Parliament.

From Journalism to Politics

Maxine McKew’s background traverses both journalism and politics. For many years she was a familiar face to ABC TV viewers and was anchor of prestigious programmes such as the 7.30 Report and Lateline. Her work has been recognized by her peers with both Walkely and Logie awards. When she left journalism and made the switch to politics, she wrote herself into the Australian history books by defeating Prime Minister John Howard in the Sydney seat of Bennelong. In government she was both parliamentary secretary for early childhood and later, for regional development and local government.

Boards and Foundations

Maxine lives in Melbourne and is a director of Per Capita and the John Cain Foundation. In 2015 she was appointed to serve on the board of the State Library of Victoria and re-appointed for a further term in 2018. She also serves as a non-executive director of New Energy Solar.

Public Speaking

Maxine is in demand as a public speaker and panel facilitator. Universities, corporates, schools and not for profits utilise her skills as an interviewer at conferences and specialist seminars. She is also available as a keynote speaker in her areas of interest - education, national and international politics, and the challenges of the changing workforce. 

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Think about it. A government high school in a poor suburb is a place where students say to visitors, "you know the teachers are not just here for the pay, they're here for us."

Through a series of conversations with some of the most prominent thinkers in education and an examination of culture and academic change in six Australian schools, Class Act invites reflection on one of our most pressing national dilemmas – how we replicate success across a fragmented system and reverse the decline in student performance.

Class Act is Maxine McKew’s second book, following the success of her political memoir Tales From the Political Trenches. At a time of intense and often acrimonious debate around the funding of Australian schools, Class Act will appeal to parents, teachers and policy-makers alike with the freshness of its stories and frank accounts of the joys and pit-falls of learning in the new millennia.

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Not many leaders are gifted a second chance. In the short time he had before he faced the verdict of the people, Kevin Rudd had to revive respect and credibility in his governing party.

But the 2013 campaign turned out to be one more bitter, lost opportunity for the Australian Labor Party. In this updated edition of her popular memoir Tales From the Political Trenches, Maxine McKew considers the high price that the Australian Labor Party has paid for the fratricidal conflicts that have dominated since Kevin Rudd first came to power in 2007. She argues that for years to come, competing views about two talented individuals, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, will continue to arouse intense emotion and divide Labor loyalists.

After winning a spectacular victory against Prime Minister John Howard in 2007, McKew was one of the many casualties of the disastrous 2010 election campaign, when Labor was left clinging to the wreckage and forced into minority government. Now after the 2013 poll, which exacted an even higher price, Tales From the Political Trenches provides a compelling analysis for those looking back over the vandalism of the past six years and are still asking 'what the hell happened?'.

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