ScoMo named most powerful person of 2019
Scott Morrison has been named the most powerful person of 2019 in a who's who of Australian movers and shakers compiled by The Australian Financial Review Magazine.
The prime minister tops the Financial Review's "Overt Power List", which ranks the 10 people of the last 12 months who possess the power to dramatically lead and shape the country.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was named the second most powerful person in Australia, followed by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
While the list is dominated by political heavyweights, it's not all backroom party deals: ABC Chair Ita Buttrose sneaks in at number 10, while Atlassian co-founder and green energy advocate Mike Cannon-Brookes was ranked a very respectable seventh.
Perhaps more interesting is the magazine's "Covert Power List" - the 10 most powerful Australians who do most of their work behind the scenes, pulling on the strings of business, politics and the public to achieve their way.
This list was topped by Philip Gaetjens, Scott Morrison's former chief of staff who was named the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in July.
Barely a household name, Gaetjen's role is the top public service job in the country and the influence he wields over the direction of the government is undeniable.
Other names on the covert power list included Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, NewsCorp's Rupert Murdoch, Commonwealth Bank chairwoman Catherine Livingstone and national intelligence chief Nick Warner.
Published annually, the Financial Review's power lists are compiled by a panel of insiders, experts and analysts.
AFR Magazine Editor Matthew Drummond explained to 9news.com.au that Morrison's blindside election win gave him extraordinary influence over every Australian, even the rest of those on this year's lists.
"The big theme in the covert power list this year was the number of people on there whose power emanates from their proximity to Morrison, particularly after the federal election," Mr Drummond said.
"It was an election he wasn't expected to win and he was widely credited as winning basically on his own.
"That put him in to number one spot – as the prime minister often is – but it was daylight in between him and second place in terms of votes."
Mr Drummond said Morrison's likability within his own party means the power he possesses isn't diluted by knife-wielding politicians looking to organise a coup.
"We haven't seen a Prime Minister in quite a while who's got no internal competitors for his position," he said.
"His authority in the Liberal Party is unparalleled, in a way that we haven't really seen since the days of John Howard."
The challenge for AFR Magazine panellists, therefore, wasn't in picking the number one spot, but in unpicking the web of deals and handshakes that cascade through Morrison's relationships.
"We tried really hard to have people on the panel that have worked on the inside of the highest levels of government, politics and business," Mr Drummond said.
"But they're not necessarily in the middle of those roles now so they can talk. We really looked for people who were very much connected to the Morrison government to really underline who has the pulling power over Morrison."
Of particular note – outside of Catherine Livingstone on the covert power list – was a lack of banking personalities on lists this year, one marked by the reputation-ripping financial services royal commission.
"There hasn't been a bank CEO on the overt list for quite a few years now," Mr Drummond said.
"In years gone by there was often a big four bank chief, but we haven't had one for a quite a while which reflects the falling out of relations between Canberra and the big four banks."
The Australian Financial Review Magazine's Overt Power List:
- Scott Morrison (Prime Minister)
- Josh Frydenberg (Federal Treasurer)
- Gladys Berejiklian (NSW Premier)
- Philip Lowe (Reserve Bank of Australia Governor)
- Anthony Albanese (Opposition Leader)
- Peter Dutton (Home Affairs Minister)
- Mike Cannon-Brookes (Atlassian co-founder)
- Jacqui Lambie and cross bench (Independent politician)
- Rod Sims (ACCC Chair)
- Ita Buttrose (ABC (chair)
The Australian Financial Review Magazine's Covert Power List:
- Philip Gaetjens (Prime Minister and Cabinet department secretary)
- John Kunkel (Chief of Staff to Scott Morrison)
- Mathias Cormann (Minister for Finance)
- Yaron Finkelstein (Principal Private Secretary, Prime Minister's Office)
- Nick Warner (Director-General National Intelligence)
- Rupert Murdoch (Media mogul)
- Andrew Hirst (Federal Director, Liberal Party)
- Catherine Livingstone (Commonwealth Bank Chair)
- Alan Joyce (Qantas CEO)
- Ian Silk (Australian Super CEO)
The full Overt and Covert Power Lists are currently available online at www.afr.com. The full Power Lists are available inside the Power issue of AFR Magazine, available in the Financial Review today.