Who are the people most effective at lobbying politcians to get their way? Next week, The Power Index starts counting down the Top 10 Most Powerful Lobbyists. Here, we present the short list.
Anthony Ball (CEO, Clubs NSW)
Ball is the driving force behind the clubs’ ferocious campaign to scupper Andrew Wilkie’s proposed pokies reforms. Labor MPs in key marginal seats are nervous, the independents are still making up their minds and Tony Abbott has predicted that he will rescind mandatory commitment if elected at the next election.
Colin Rubenstein (executive director, Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council)
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The former Middle East politics lecturer is a polished media performer and energetic advocate of the Israeli cause. The AIJAC is active in combating alleged instances of anti-Israel bias in the media and funds overseas study trips for politicians and journalists.
Gabriel McDowell (managing director, ResPublica)
The Irish PR operative has been behind some of the biggest lobbying coups in recent Australian history. He led the campaign against Peter Costello’s plans to increase the excise on beer when the GST was introduced and successfully lobbied for the legalisation of therapeutic cloning in 2005.
Heather Ridout (CEO, Australian Industry Group)
“Heather Everywhere” has become the voice of business in Australia. She’s a skilled networker, savvy media performer and sits on a slew of government boards. Initially seen as close to Labor — some in business thought she was too close — Ridout has recently become a vocal critic of the Gillard government’s industrial relations and climate change policies.
Ian Smith (partner, Bespoke Approach)
The former Liberal Party media adviser and corporate spinner is now at Bespoke Approach, a boutique lobbying firm he runs with Alexander Downer and Nick Bolkus. The talented trio are working behind the scenes to help some of the world’s biggest companies get a foothold in the Australian market.
Jim Wallace (managing director, Australian Christian Lobby)
The ex-army brigadier has made it his life’s mission to bring Christ’s influence into Canberra. Wallace’s cashed-up lobby group is fighting against moves to legalise voluntary euthanasia, gay marriage and R-rated video games. But the ACL doesn’t speak for all Christians and there’s little evidence their marginal seat campaigning shifts votes.
Karl Bitar (head of government affairs, Crown Casino)
Bitar, a former ALP national secretary, was hired by James Packer to encourage the government to abandon or water down its mandatory pre-commitment pokie reforms. Clubs Australia may have taken the limelight but don’t be fooled: Bitar has been arguing Crown’s case vigorously behind the scenes.
Kate Carnell (CEO, Australian Food and Grocery Council)
The former ACT Premier doesn’t like to be called a lobbyist: “I’m not a lobbyist,” she tells us. “Not even slightly.” Nevertheless, Carnell has exerted considerable influence during her stints as head of the National Association of Forest Industries, Australian General Practice Network and now the Australian Food and Grocery Council. Public health advocates accuse her of stymieing reforms to limit junk food advertising and tougher food labelling laws.
Kos Sclavos (president, Pharmacy Guild of Australia)
A powerful chemist … really? You’d better believe it. The Pharmacy Guild is one of the most feared (and respected) lobbying outfits in town — it’s largely because of their lobbying that community pharmacy is one of the Australia’s most protected industries. Long-time president Kos Sclavos is a tough operator who nearly always gets his way.
Les Timar (managing director, Government Relations Australia)
The former Liberal staffer has been running the well-regarded bipartisan firm for the past 15 years. The GRA stable also includes former Labor treasurer John Dawkins and NSW Liberal MP Michael Yabsley.