No.41: Dave Oliver (secretary, Australian Council of Trade Unions). Trade union true believers have sky-high expectations for Dave Oliver, the man who’s stepped in to replace the low-key Jeff Lawrence as head of the ACTU.

Oliver, a confident media performer, wants to transform the peak body into an energetic, high-profile organisation again capable of setting the national agenda. “Dave is an idea whose time has come,” says Tony Maher, national president of the CFMEU. “I think Dave will develop into a very significant ACTU leader.”

The former fitter and turner has won respect during the past five years as leader of the left-wing Australian Manufacturing Workers Union by working closely with Paul Howes’ AWU to win government handouts for the struggling manufacturing industry.

He’d better hit the ground running at the ACTU: if Tony Abbott sweeps to power at the next election, the union movement will again be out in the cold. — Matthew Knott

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No.40: Rod Sims (chair, ACCC). As head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims is a part of the powerful enforcement club: the club that few, outside the media, are game to criticise.

That’s lucky, because Sims is determined to open the watchdog up to scrutiny. He made such a promise early on in his tenure by declaring that the ACCC, which has been known to surrender before the very law that invests power in it, would be seeing some significant changes under his reign.

He promised to oversee the ACCC putting more on the line by changing its almost clean winning record of the first instance litigation into which it enters, while also targeting several specific industries in a bid to end the monopolies that exist within them.

Sims became the public face of the ACCC’s long battle against the Metcash acquisition of Franklins supermarkets, and indeed against all big retailers looking to make “incremental” acquisitions of smaller stores and players. More recently, he’s established tough penalties for businesses making false claims of price increases as a result of the carbon tax, and launched a hotline for consumers to dob in a carbon scammer. — Angela Priestley

No.39: Julian Assange (founder, WikiLeaks). No person has snatched, wielded and lost more power in the past 18 months than Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks founder has been responsible for the publication of hundreds of thousands of secrets, helped spark revolutions and changed the face of journalism — perhaps forever.

Now, he’s seeking asylum from Ecuador and may soon find himself in a Swedish courtroom. He’s also  wanted by the US government to answer for what he’s released. Meanwhile, his organisation is close to broke.

Along the way he’s tried to revolutionise the way people leak confidential information, using the power of the internet to harvest and distribute massive tranches of sensitive documents.

Assange tells The Power Index that WikiLeaks is an organisation intent on freedom of information and helping the public see in full view how their governments operate: “It is our role to make sure that information relevant to that is published,” he says.

And he’s managed to do just that through a series of major newsworthy leaks. Just this week, the organisation released 5 million emails it said came from Syrian political figures. Earlier this year, they leaked emails revolving around intelligence company Stratfor.

Its most prominent release was the publication of classified documents concerning the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then the disclosure of more than a quarter of a million secret US embassy cables. — Tom Cowie (read the full profile at The Power Index)