After a year of discovering who really runs Australia, The Power Index is finally set to reveal the country's fifty most powerful people.
Throughout July, Paul Barry and The Power Index team will be counting down the most influential people in the nation from business, media, politics, sport and culture.
The Power 50 / 2012
Premier, West Australia
Born in: Nedlands, Western Australia
Home Town: Perth
Four years ago, Colin Barnett was a political has-been on the verge of retirement. Today, he’s sitting pretty as premier of the nation’s most prosperous state, Western Australia.
Few of his predecessors could match him for clout. If resource-rich WA was to stop digging, the national economy would take a big hit.
But that won’t happen under Can do Colin’s watch. He’s on a mission to make sure his state capitalises on a once in a generation mining boom. He’s championed Woodside’s plans to build a $30 billion gas hub at James Price Point, despite opposition from some traditional owners. He’s angered business lobby groups by flagging plans to create a sovereign wealth fund. And environmentalists, and the Gillard government, will never forgive him for his doggedly anti-mining tax, anti-carbon tax stance.
All signs, however, suggest the sandgropers love it. Polls have regularly shown Barnett, who leads a minority government, to be the most popular premier in the land. That’s no surprise when you peruse his state’s economic stats. WA’s unemployment rate is at 3.7%, by far the lowest in the country, and its budget is in surplus.
Not that Barnett has got everything he wants. He’s railed against his state’s declining share of GST revenues, but so far Canberra hasn’t given ground. He did, however, succeed in scuttling Kevin Rudd’s ambitious health deal in 2010.
Although the recent departure of his Treasurer, Christian Porter, was a blow, you’d be brave -- foolhardy even -- to bet against him winning re-election in March 2013.