Tattersall’s: A $2 billion company with two lucrative gambling licences in Victoria – one a gaming duopoly that expires in 2012 and the other a lotteries monopoly that expires in 2007. There will be no more government-dependent company than Tatt’s once it lists on 7 July.

ABC Learning: Receiving $1 million a day in subsidies from Canberra makes the child care giant very government-dependent. No wonder it recently appointed its former ministerial kingmaker, Larry Anthony, to the board.

Gunns: Clear felling in Tasmanian old growth forests is a lucrative business and getting approval from both sides of politics to do this has helped create a $1.4 billion giant.

Commonwealth Bank: While all banks have relied on Peter Costello sitting on his hands and doing nothing about bank gouging for almost a decade, the CBA has the biggest retail network and its huge funds management operation is also very dependent on mandated compulsory super.

Tabcorp: Owning four casinos, two state-based wagering monopolies and a gaming duopoly in Victoria makes it very government dependent but at least the risk is spread across three states, unlike Tattersall’s which remains concentrated in Victoria.

PBL: One of Kerry Packer’s greatest strengths is leveraging media power into successful investments in other heavily regulated industries. This has been well documented over the years but a hostile federal government could damage Channel Nine by auctioning off a fourth commercial licence and the Crown and Burswood casinos are also potentially hostage to state-based regulator attack.

Ramsay Healthcare: The two licences for its big veterans hospitals in Perth and Brisbane are up next year and Paul Ramsay has worked his close friendship with John Howard to great advantage in recent years. The recent acquisition of the old Mayne Nickless hospital business, Affinity Healthcare, has increased his government dependence. Policies like the 30% private health care rebate and exponential increases in state and federal healthcare spending are now vital.

Southern Cross Broadcasting: Running regional television stations with aggregated content very much relies on not being told to generate expensive local content by the Australian Broadcasting Authority. Similarly, policies like the two-station limit in each capital city are also important when you run the most powerful network of talk stations which very much rely on government access for ratings as John Howard’s close friendship with Alan Jones demonstrates.

Telstra: The preservation of its market power and regulator control over much of its pricing makes Telstra hugely dependent on the government. As long as the government is a shareholder trying to maximise the share price, don’t expect consumers to get much of a look in.

Perpetual: Mandated super and a free-for-all on fund manager fees have allowed companies like Perpetual to enjoy huge returns over the past decade. The Future Fund initiative saw Perpetual shares rise $2 in one day.

Peter Fray

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