Who are the intellectuals most influencing our public debate? Next week we're counting down the Top 10 Most Powerful Thinkers. Here, Tom Cowie presents the shortlist.
Up until very recently, Dr Livingstone, we presume, was much more powerful. But after Julia Gillard welshed on Andrew Wilkie's poker machine reforms this week, things have gone a little downhill for Footscray's bespectacled public health academic. Still, those in the know say he's the leading intellectual voice for gambling reform.
"Charles is, for my money, the most qualified expert on poker machines in this country," Senator Nick Xenophon tells The Power Index. "His work has been very influential on me," agrees Wilkie. "He's a clear thinker, independent and evidence-based and his advice shouldn't be disregarded lightly."
Broderick by all rights should be making the suits at the top end of town nervous with her talk of board quotas, equal pay and paid parental leave. But somehow the Sex Discrimination Commissioner has a way of making things happen, both in the corporate world and at a government level. In short, Liz is getting results. And she wants more.
Silver-haired second-waver Cox has been shining a light for feminism for decades. And while the torch may have been passed, with movements like SlutWalk changing how the battle is fought, she's still speaking out on everything from women's rights to the future of civil society. And if that's not enough for you, last year Australia Post put her on a stamp.
In between coining the phrases "tyranny of distance" and the "black armband" view of history, there aren't too many historians in Australia with the record of influence of Blainey. Or as prolific (he's authored at least 36 books). But with the culture wars having moved on from the history-centric focus of the Howard years, Blainey's power – outside the odd book-signing – has waned.
We'd better be careful what we say, just in case Gerard's offsider pooch Nancy is keeping an eye on us for his delightfully earnest Media Watch Dog. A prodigious columnist ready to preach polemic on everything from ABC bias to industrial relations, Hendo also has influence as head of the shady Sydney Institute think tank.
He may look like Ned Flanders on a shaving strike, but White's ideas are anything but straight-edge. A visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute and former adviser to Kim Beazley and Bob Hawke, White's recent Quarterly Essay on relations with the US and China caused rumbles. He's got cred too. Two former foreign ministers and a defence minister were ready to praise him when The Power Index came calling.
Broken Hill's sultan of scepticism has been everywhere lately, thanks to his new book challenging the teaching of science in schools (launched by John Howard). A pariah in parts of the scientific community after his best-selling tome Heaven+Earth, the Adelaide Uni geologist has become a poster boy for those seething shock jocks still trying to whip up outrage over the carbon tax. Love him or hate him, you can't deny his influence.
Roskam is the whip smart and media savvy executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs, the loudest – and most right wing – think tank in the country. As libertarian-in-chief, it's Roskam's job to marshal the IPA's platoon of conservative culture warriors as they spread their free market agenda. And according to his bosses, he's making a good fist of it.
"I think their views are certainly making a difference," Liberal Party grandee and IPA board member Michael Kroger tells The Power Index. "I think they're winning arguments all over the place."
WikiLeaks may have not had a decent release for a while, but most observers agree the aftershocks of the secret-spilling organisation's publication of more than 250,000 US government cables are going to be felt for a while. At the centre of it all is Townsville's most famous former computer hacker and his philosophy of free speech and open government.
As Assange tells The Power Index: "Everything that's mentioned in an official communicae back to Washington, to the state department and to the CIA and to the White house, is important. Everything."
Melbourne's favourite Ali G-quoting economist may be one of the country's leading conservative analysts (and critics of the Gillard government), but she's not all laissez-faire. At a recent tax summit Sloan argued for an increase in the dole, saying it was too low. The Frank Lowy company director is also leading the grey army at National Seniors Australia and was recently given prime column real estate at The Australian.
Often controversial and always ready for a fight, bioethicist Cannold has been one of the key campaigners in the pro-choice debate. A protégée of super intellect Peter Singer, the Australo-American humanist is also a prolific commentator in support of women's rights; a path she felt impelled to join after being sexually assaulted during her younger years.
Melinda Tankard Reist
Repeatedly attacked for her supposedly-contradictory pro-life feminist outlook, the raven-haired Tankard Reist is another thinker especially skilled at polarising audiences. Currently threatening litigation against a blogger for accusations of a secret conservative Christian agenda, MTR's main game these days is campaigning against porn and the sexualisation of kids – a crusade gaining momentum.
He's got his fair share of critics, but Pearson remains one of the most visible and influential advocates for indigenous rights. There's little doubt he has the ear of both sides of politics (mostly because of the "perception" that he represents Aboriginal Australia, says Rob Oakeshott). And his Cape York welfare reform trial has become an example for which people like Tony Abbott say other income management programs should be modelled.
Professor Pat McGorry must be the most well-known psychiatrist in the country, thanks to his tireless campaign for more funds for mental health. The former Australian of the Year and son of a TB doctor was integral in winning tripartisan support for reforms, which led to an extra $2.2 billion in the budget last year for mental health services. Again, McGorry's got his critics, but they aren't saying he's not powerful. In fact, quite the opposite.
Universally renowned as one of Australia's most influential philosophers and ethicists, Singer's hardline views on everything from animal rights to euthanasia have made him a lightning rod of intellectual thought. Currently in his fourteenth year of tenure at Princeton, Singer's influence internationally is undoubted but closer to home it's harder to judge.
His admirers call him forensic; his detractors malign him as a "propagandist", there aren't too many figures on the Left more game to fight the culture war than Bundoora Bob. The shaggy-haired academic has been prolific with his opinions on the Iraq War, asylum seekers, the stolen generation and everything in between. And then there were the oceans of ink spilled last year between him and his adversaries at The Australian.
Public health advocate Chapman has been one of the key thinkers in the government's world-leading efforts to wrap fag packets in plain packaging. And with Big Tobacco crying foul as other governments watch to see what comes of it, there's still a long way to go for ciggie reform's rockstar (literally, check out his band 'The Original Faux Pas').
There aren't too many who divide scientists (and the media) quite like this Akubra-wearing palaeontologist. And there aren't many as influential, internationally and locally, either. Even if everyone wants to line up to kick him (on his predictions; his Hawkesbury River property; or his supposed views on coal seam gas), Flannery still has the ear of a government committed to acting on climate change.