So whose lobbying power really struck this year’s federal budget? Below are some of The Power Index’s top people picks …

Simon Chapman, professor of public health at the University of Sydney

It’s a grey day for jet-setting smokers, after the allowance for duty free ciggies was cut from 250 smokes to just 50. The measure is expected to provide an extra $600 million to the bottom line over forward estimates.

Tobacco control czar Simon Chapman, one of the brains behind the federal government’s plain packaging legislation, has been an advocate for reducing duty free concessions. Last month on ABC’s The Drum he wrote that Australia’s duty free tobacco were a “historically archaic anomaly” and need to be abolished.

“Preserving the duty free travel perk is completely incoherent with government policy on tobacco control,” he wrote. “It encourages smokers to buy up, including lighter smokers who are enticed to buy more than they would normally by the cheap prices.”

Looks like someone was listening, Simon.

John Della Bosca, national campaign director at Every Australian Counts

The drive behind the National Disability Insurance Scheme has been huge, but its co-ordination was largely managed by former NSW Health Minister John Della Bosca.

He’s done this as national campaign director of Every Australian Counts, which was already celebrating the government’s very commitment to the NDIS before seeing the Treasurer allocate $1 billion in the budget to get it off the ground. That means, as Della Bosca said in a statement last night, the scheme will launch even sooner than he and his fellow campaigners expected.

Every Australian Counts lobbied hard to get the government’s commitment to fund the scheme by commissioning research and organising rallies across the country. These rallies have, in recent months, attracted attention and the participation of relevant federal ministers.

Della Bosca was appointed campaign director of the NDIS during the 2010 federal election campaign, when both sides of politics promised to address the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Disability Care and Support.

Dr Shane Fryer, president of the Australian Dental Association.

A decent federal government dental spend has been a long time coming, so Dr Shane Fryer from the Australian Dental Association can breathe a small sigh of relief.

The ADA has lobbied hard for federal spending to assist in granting low-income earners access to dental services, pushing for a Dental Access scheme to specifically target the 30% of Australians who do not currently visit a dentist. Their efforts have somewhat paid off, with the Treasurer announcing $500 million for dental care over the next four years (although it’s not all new funding).

Still, while the ADA has cause to celebrate, its full list of recommendations have by no means been taken on and they’re declaring this a “first step in a much longer process”. Indeed, the money promised can only go so far to assist with long dental waiting lists and poor dental health in regional and remote areas.

Current Wollongong-based president Dr Shane Fryer was aided in these lobbying efforts by his predecessor Dr Neil Hewson, who helped create ADA’s access scheme policy push.

Rob Oakeshott, independent MP for Lyne

There were plenty of measures to keep Oakeshott and partner-in-crime Tony Windsor sweet (including $475 million for rural hospitals), but it’s planned excise relief for microbrewers that’s got craft beer drinkers cheering.

Red tape will be slashed for brewers, with the amount before producers have to pay excise lifted from $10,000 to $30,000. A ceiling limit of a 30,000 litres for production will also be removed. The measure is expected to cost $10 million over forward estimates.

Oakeshott made a speech in parliament in February calling for the tax breaks for beermakers such as the Little Brewing Company in Port Macquarie.

“I have always wanted to stand up in this place and call for more beer, and that is exactly what I am doing tonight,” he said. “I would hope that this parliament in all seriousness and in detail can consider making some changes in support of small business generally but also in support of Australian small brewers in particular.”

*Read the full story at The Power Index

Peter Fray

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