They’re prime ministers, premiers and frontbenchers. They’re bureaucrats and union heavies. Media owners and broadcast loudmouths. Billionaires and business titans. Legal eagles and corporate regulators. Faceless men and public women. Leaders and followers. Watchdogs and advisers and writers and thinkers.

Power in Australia is held by many, and not always in the hands of who you think. As Paul Barry writes:

“The truth is that power in Australia is remarkably pluralist. Different groups have power in different areas, and lots of people affect decisions. What’s more, the locus of power is constantly changing, and it depends on how people play their cards.”

Today, The Power Index begins its countdown of the most powerful people in Australia. Our team of journalists have been stalking Australia’s most influential movers and shakers for 12 months and are set to deliver their verdict on which of them really runs the joint.

Can a politically vulnerable Prime Minister top the list? Or will it be money or media influence that wins out?

Stay tuned …