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
Lawyer, academic and activist
Born in: Cooktown, QLD.
Friends: John Howard | Tony Abbott | Warren Mundine
Noel Pearson has unrivalled influence over indigenous Australia, despite the fact many of his own people say he doesn't speak for them.
An impressive intellect and dynamic orator, you only need to see the powerful people lining up to support what Pearson's doing in the Cape to know how much authority he's got. Tony Abbott, John Howard and freshly-minted Queensland premier Campbell Newman are all admirers.
"He has tremendous influence, prime ministers of all political persuasions have flown to the Cape to have a chat with him," indigenous leader Warren Mundine told The Power Index.
But inside the indigenous community debate continues to rage over who Pearson speaks for. It hasn't helped that his ideas for combating disadvantage in indigenous Australia, such as the Cape York Welfare Reform Trial, have been so controversial.
Still, there is a belief amongst those in Canberra that Pearson has carte blanche to influence indigenous policy-making on both sides.
As independent MP Rob Oakeshott once told parliament: "We continue to see both sides of the chamber wanting to get close to Noel Pearson in Cape York because of some perception that, if you are close to Noel Pearson, you have the voice of Aboriginal people in Australia."