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
Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia
Born in: Perth, WA
Friends: Kim Beazley, Greg Craven
Home Town: Perth
The Chief Justice of the High Court only commands one out of seven votes, but don't let that fool you. Robert French is a man who gets his own way.
Since his 2008 appointment, the charismatic, curly-haired West Australian has dissented in only 2% of all cases and set records for achieving unanimous judgments.
"French has had a bigger impact than expected -- and a positive one," according to constitutional law expert, George Williams.
Although appointed to the bench by Kevin Rudd, French was a committed Liberal Party activist in his university days. A passionate republican, federalist and Aboriginal rights supporter, those who know him best describe him as a "small ‘L’ liberal" whose priority is applying the law, not rewriting it.
The French court’s significant decisions have included killing off the Australian Military Court, overturning the law requiring new voters to be on the roll by 8pm on the day the electoral writs are issued and -- most memorably -- declaring invalid the federal government's proposed asylum seeker swap deal with Malaysia.
Gillard will be hoping French looks more kindly on her cigarette plain packaging legislation when that case concludes later this year.