No.5: Glenn Stevens (governor, Reserve Bank of Australia). Glenn Stevens calls himself Sydney’s most boring person. And he probably is. Other people call him conservative and overpaid. And he probably is.
Either way, you won’t see the RBA governor eating out at flashy restaurants or hanging around with other movers and shakers; the bald-headed Baptist is the very model of a demure central banker. “Stevens ostensibly controls the ‘price of money’, so he is extremely powerful,” economist Christopher Joye told The Power Index.
Stevens first joined the RBA research department in 1980 after graduating with an economics degree from the University of Sydney. He’s been at Martin Place ever since. Now, as the man pulling the levers of economic policy, Stevens can move markets and cripple prime ministers.
He’s also well-paid, becoming Australia’s first million-dollar public servant. Treasurer Wayne Swan must have been listening to the resulting criticism; he subsequently announced the Remuneration Tribunal would decide salaries instead of the RBA board.
Born and bred in the Sutherland Shire, Stevens has a penchant for fast cars and jazz. He’s also a certified commercial pilot and owns a Piper Seneca II aircraft. Who knows, perhaps his flying licence will help him navigate the stormy economic skies ahead. — Tom Cowie
No.4: Tony Abbott (Opposition Leader). Tony Abbott is a storyteller and that’s the secret of his success as Australia’s most effective ever opposition leader.
Yes, he narrowly lost the 2010 election. But since then he’s deployed a limited arsenal to devastating effect. He’s been relentlessly negative; creating simple, effective narratives about the government and Julia Gillard.
His greatest creation remains the reframing of the emissions trading debate into one about a “great big new tax” that intimidated Rudd. Labor has been unable to find a response to his tactics.
Abbott is prone to changing his position on even the most important issues, having maintained at various times that the planet was cooling, that a carbon tax was the best means of climate action and that Rudd’s CPRS should be passed.
But this lack of intellectual consistency has been one of his greatest power assets — especially given it’s allowed him to craft narratives about his opponents.
So can he tell positive stories as well as he can tell the negative ones? That’s a question that may not need to be answered before the next election; such is the Coalition’s lead that there may be minimal pressure to offer a full suite of detailed policies. — Bernard Keane