How We Pick The Powerful

Deciding who has power in Australia is not an easy task. And coming up with a Top Ten is even harder. So how do we do it, and why do we bother?

Well, we think it's important to find out Who Really Runs Australia, and that's why our team of journalists and researchers will spend the next year doing nothing else.

Each of our Power Lists takes six weeks of interviews and investigation to put together. And this is how we go about it. First of all, we talk to as many people as possible who are expert in the area we're studying so we can draw up a list of the people they think are powerful.

Then we look at what those people have actually done in the previous 12 months, to see if they have exercised their power and are actually as potent as they're perceived to be.

After much discussion, we come up with a short list that we discuss with the experts who work in the field or know it best. And from that we arrive at our Top Ten.

As part of this process, we map out how power really works in each area and we ask ourselves constantly: "Why is this person powerful?"; "What can this person actually do?"; "What has this person really done?".

Sometimes, money is the source of their power; sometimes it's position or office; sometimes it's contacts and networks; sometimes it's the muscle they have behind them. But almost always, people with power maximise it by dint of their personality, perseverance, energy, charm or menace.

As former prime minister Malcolm Fraser told The Power Index: "You can be leader of the nation and be totally ineffectual if that's the sort of person you are."

We don't pretend our Top Tens are definitive. And we certainly won't claim to be infallible. But we can assure you, we'll give the process our best shot. And we hope that our Power Lists will spark some lively debate.

If we've left people out who should be in, or put them in when they should be out, then tell us. Make your own Power List, draw up your own Top Ten. We want to know what you think.


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