Born in: Leeton, New South Wales
Home Town: Sydney
Senator John Faulkner wants the Labor Party cleansed of its unionist bosses, but this political-fixing legend's minority view diminishes his power.
Prickly, intimidating and now also angry about the decline of the Labor Party, Faulkner is still an influential figure in the ALP, if only as the light on the hill.
But the real power in the Labor Party lies elsewhere, as he would be the first to admit. Even if his advice is still valued, he's a minority view in a minority faction and he has never played the numbers game.
Faulkner's Wran Lecture in Sydney in June this year warned colleagues that Labor has no future if it continues to shun its members. "The party has now become so reliant on focus groups that it listens more to those who do not belong to it than to those who do," he warned.
Faulkner desperately wants to see power in the party given back to the rank and file, and taken away from the unions and their factional deputies whom he (and others) see as far more selfish and damaging than those in the days of (Robert) Ray and (Graham Richardson ) Richo. But Faulkner is pessimistic about the chances of change: the ones with the power don't want to give it up, and the ones with none are too scared to speak out.
Being scared is something of which Faulkner could never be accused. And it's one of the main reasons he commands such influence in the party. "He's the man leaders turn to in times of strife because they trust him to give honest advice," says one of his many admirers on the NSW Left, "and because he is almost universally respected for his decency, honesty and experience".
Faulkner has now retired as a minister after 21 years in Parliament and more than 30 years in politics, but he remains a Senator. And none can match his record of service, which includes eight ministerial jobs, seven Senate committees, leader of the Senate, deputy chief whip and a host of party jobs in the Labor machine.
Starting in 1980, he spent nearly a decade at the NSW Labor headquarters in Sussex Street as the Left's assistant general secretary where he was continually belted up by the Right, then led by Richo. And that may well explain Faulkner's grumpy demeanour.
But there is a soft side to Faulkner, who was once a teacher of children with special needs.
The Power Index's reporter felt like a child when we went to call on him. The interview brought back memories of visits to the headmaster's study, and we could see immediately why all those hapless public servants were terrified when they were hauled in front of Faulkner to be roasted by one of his many Senate committees.