The top 10 lists of Australia’s most overtly and covertly powerful people, as assessed by The AustralianFinancial Review Magazine, are available inside the Power issue, out today in The Australian Financial Review.

Today’s AFR Magazine Power issue features in-depth analysis of the trends behind the lists of Australia’s most powerful people and profiles on all entrants.

The Financial Review’s website ( also includes all Power lists and content, as well as additional interactive graphics.

The fragile nature of power in the wake of August’s leadership change led AFR Magazine to commission London-based artist Alma Haser, who makes artworks out of jigsaws, to create the special Power Issue cover featuring Scott Morrison.

While many Australians are still puzzling over what’s happened to power and leadership in recent months, AFR Magazine’s Power Issue puts the pieces together.

The power of social media also prompted AFR Magazine to hand the camera over to the power-listers, enjoining them to photograph themselves in a series of selfies that are featured on the contents page and throughout the 2018 Power Issue.

·         New Prime Minister Scott Morrison tops The Australian Financial Review Magazine’s 2018 Overt list of Australia’s most powerful people

·         After respectively topping both the Overt and Covert lists last year, Malcom and Lucy Turnbull are off the Power lists in 2018

·         Julia Bishop, David Gonski and Barnaby Joyce are also off the list for 2018

·         Opposition leader Bill Shorten is #2 on the Overt Power list

·         Ray Hadley and populist right-wing media are once again on the Covert Power List, jumping from #8 last year to #4 in 2018

·         The AFR Magazine’s Power issue also ranks and reveals the key movers-and-shakers across politics, business, investment banking, property, law, consulting, technology and education

Prime Minister Scott Morrison tops The Australian Financial Review Magazine’s 2018 Overt List of Australia’s most powerful people, out today in AFR Magazine’s annual Power issue and online at

The Liberal leadership upheaval became the dramatic backdrop to the compilation of this year’s Power issue, forcing a complete reassessment and revision of the Power Lists for 2018.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull went from sitting atop the 2018 Overt Power List, to dropping off the List altogether.

The AFR Magazine’s 2017 Overt and Covert Power lists were decided by an independent panel of political, media and business experts.

Panellists included former director general of ASIO, Dennis Richardson, former Liberal Party federal director and coalition campaign director, Brian Loughnane, and CEO of the Group of Eight coalition of Universities, Vicki Thomson.

For the purposes of constructing the Power Lists, ‘overt power’ is defined as power that largely comes as a consequence of a person’s position or standing.

Covert power’ is defined as individuals or institutions that have indirect power, bringing about change by using their ability to influence the people with overt power.


 The AFR Magazine’s annual Overt Power List ranks the 10 individuals in Australia who wield more power than anyone else.

New Prime Minster Scott Morrison soars to #1 from #7 on the Overt Power in 2017 by virtue of his new role, even if he is yet to fully assert his authority.

Even prior to the leadership spill, the Power Panel had voted to elevate Morrison to #4 on the 2018 Overt Power List.

Opposition Leader Bill shorten comes in at #2 on the Overt Power List, followed by Treasurer of Australia Josh Frydenberg at #3.

Shorten holds steady in his ranking position from 2017, while Frydenberg is the highest new entrant on the List.

The number #4 spot on the Overt List goes to former High Court Justice Kenneth Hayne, with Senator Mathias Cormann slipping down one spot from his position last year to #5.

Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Sally McManus jumps four spots to #6 on this year’s Overt Power List, while Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton ranks at #7 and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott sits at #9 – the same position he occupied in 2017.

When the AFR Power Panel initially met on August 2, Peter Dutton had already been identified as one of the nation’s most overtly powerful figures.

On August 13 when Parliament resumed after the six-week winter break, then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Dutton and others selected by the Power Panel filed into a meeting room at Parliament House to pose for portraits for the Power Issue.

Turnbull happily agreed to take a selfie in front of AFR Magazine’s photographers, seemingly confident in his power. Yet Dutton’s plans were already well afoot to tear Turnbull’s power away from him.

“When AFR Magazine started doing the Power Lists 18 years ago, John Howard had an iron grip on the top job in the country. Power was about incumbency. Then, over the course of the past decade, power shifted to those with the ability to disrupt,” said AFR Magazine Editor, Matthew Drummond.

“These days, holding high office rarely means you’re held in high regard. The banking royal commission is chomping through the reputation of big business, while weekly opinion polls undermine the foundations of Parliament House,” Drummond added.

 AFR Magazine Overt Power List:

Scott Morrison Prime Minister
Bill Shorten Opposition Leader
Josh Frydenberg Treasurer of Australia
Kenneth Hayne Former Justice of the High Court
Mathias Cormann Australian Senator
Sally McManus Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions
Peter Dutton Home Affairs Minister
Chris Bowen Shadow Treasurer of Australia
Tony Abbott Member for Warringah
Susan Kiefel First woman Chief Justice of Australia




Philip Gaetjens tops the 2018 Covert Power List following his ascent to the role of Treasury Secretary after previously serving as chief-of-staff to Scott Morrison when Morrison was Treasurer.


Politicians and ‘Friends of Scott Morrison’ David Gazard, Stuart Robert, Alex Hawke, Ben Morton, Scott Briggs enter at #2 on the Covert List, while public servant Martin Parkinson is one position behind at #3.

Ray Hadley and populist right-wing media, who debuted on the 2017 Covert Power at #8, this year move up to #4 on the Covert Power List following their role in August’s leadership spill.

Former Prime Minister John Howard also makes a notable entry into this year’s Overt Power List (#7), as does Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman, Rod Sims (#8) and Australian Super CEO, Ian Silk (#9).

AFR Magazine Covert Power List:

Philip Gaetjens Treasury Secretary and Member of the Reserve Bank Board
Friends of Scott Morrison (David Gazard, Stuart Robert, Alex Hawke, Ben Morton, Scott Briggs) Trusted confidants of the PM
Martin Parkinson Public Servant
Right-wing media (Ray Hadley, Alan Jones, Rupert Murdoch and ‘Sky After Dark’ Media
Michael O’Connor National Secretary CFMMEU
Nick Warner Intelligence Chief
John Howard Former Prime Minister
Rod Sims Chairman Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Ian Silk Australian Super CEO
Ben Oquist & Richard Dennis The Australia Institute

In addition to overt and covert power, AFR Magazine’s Power issue ranks and reveals the key movers-and-shakers across culture, business, investment banking, property, technology, law, consulting and education.

The 2018 Power issue also includes a special report by Financial Review senior writer Lisa Murray on the changing face of Australia’s intelligence agencies as they undergo their biggest restructure since being formed in the 1940s to deal with the Russian spy threat.

Murray interviews Australia’s top intelligence chief Nick Warner – who is #6 on this year’s Covert Power List – in his first interview since he was tapped for the new role of Director General of the Office of National Assessments, which will soon be renamed the Office of National Intelligence.

Warner, an ex-secret service officer, is a point person for the Prime Minister, and is effectively Australia’s chief executive spy.

Murray tracks the return of Australian spy agencies to a key spy-combatting function – this time from China – while still dealing with growing threats associated with terrorism.

The AFR Magazine Overt and Covert Power List panellists for 2018 are:

  • Tony Mitchelmore – MD of Visibility – specialising in qualitative and quantitative research
  • Skye Laris – Digital management consultant and AGL executive
  • Vicki Thomson – CEO of the Group of Eight coalition of Universities
  • Brian Loughnane – Business and political strategic adviser.  Former Liberal party federal director
  • Michael Stutchbury – Editor-in-chief of the Australian Financial Review
  • Martin Ferguson – Board member and former Minister in Federal Labor governments
  • Dennis Richardson – Former secretary of Defence and of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Alexander Downer – Former Liberal leader, foreign Minister and high commissioner to the UK


The twenty-three year old woman at the centre of the Luke Lazarus rape trial is Australia’s most culturally powerful person, according to the 2018 Australian Financial Review Magazine Cultural Power List published today online and tomorrow in print.

Remaining anonymous throughout the trial of a now-acquitted nightclub owner’s son who allegedly raped her in an alleyway in 2013, Saxon Mullins stepped into the spotlight in May of this year to talk to ABC’s Four Corners in graphic detail about her alleged sexual assault as an 18 year-old.

For this year’s Power Issue, Saxon went back to Sydney’s Kings Cross – and stood just 300 metres from the scene of her alleged rape – to be photographed as Australia’s most powerful cultural influencer for 2018.

Cultural power, for the purpose of the AFR Magazine’s Power issue, is measured by a person’s ability to shape Australia’s view of itself, crystallise an overarching issue in any given year, or reflect us back to ourselves.

It is not the first time the Power panel has put someone highlighting the issue of sexual assault at the top of the Cultural Power List.

In 2004, the #1 spot went to the “Bulldogs Whistelblower”, whose alleged sexual assault by six members of the NRL team had – in the Panel’s view – rocked the foundation of not only Australian sport, but the nation more broadly.

That woman had also remained anonymous throughout the controversy, which ultimately did not result in changes.

“That a young woman of a similar age would go on camera 14 years later to tell her own story and pose for AFR Magazine’s photographer – confident, composed and defiant – highlights not only how much power has changed in the interim, but also the particular characteristics of power today,” said AFR Magazine Editor, Matthew Drummond.

While acknowledging that journalist Tracey Spicer had been a major catalyst for the #MeToo movement in Australia, the Panel felt the most compelling articulation of the issue had come from the women who went on-camera and on-the-record about sexual harassment and sexual assault. The Panel also noted that no one had personified the issue as dramatically as Mullins.

Coming in a #2 on this year’s Cultural Power List is Qantas CEO Alan Joyce for the critical role he played in the ‘Yes’ movement for marriage equality in Australia.

Joyce was followed by Australian producer, director and writer Tony Ayres, who ranked at #3 following his recent deal with NBC Universal, and indigenous rights activist and Lowitja Institute chair Pat Anderson, who entered at #4 after using her October 2017 Charles Perkins memorial oration to again underline urgent calls for constitutional change.

Wheelchair athletes Kurt Fearnley and Dylan Alcott collectively debuted at #5 on the List, with the Panel citing them as symbolising the mainstream normalisation of disability.

Other notable inclusions on AFR Magazine’s 2018 Cultural Power List include Tasmanian-born comedian and writer Hannah Gadsby (#7), who shot to global stardom this year with her Netflix hit Nannette, and comedian Craig Reucassel (#6), who undertook a multi-platform one-man revolution with documentary series War on Waste.

With the Nine/Fairfax deal yet to be finalised, and at the start of what is likely to be a wave of consolidations enabled by changes to Australian media ownership laws, the Cultural Power Panel felt it was too early to declare winners and losers among those who control media and entertainment in Australia.

 AFR Magazine Cultural Power List 2018:

Saxon Mullins Woman at the centre of the Luke Lazarus rape case
Alan Joyce CEO Qantas Airlines
Tony Ayres Screenwriter/director
Pat Anderson Human rights advocate, health administrator
Kurt Fearnley & Dylan Alcott Disabled athletes
Craig Reucassel Comedian/The War on Waste
Hannah Gadsby Comedian – Nannette
Aliir Aliir & Majak Daw Sudanese and Kenyan AFL Players
Judith Neilson Arts philanthropist
Warwick Thornton Film director/screenwriter/


The 2018 AFR Magazine Cultural Power List was decided by an independent panel of key decision-makers from across Australia’s creative and media industries. A Full list of panellists follows below.

The full Cultural Power List is currently available online at The Cultural Power List, along with Covert and Overt Power Lists, will be available inside the Power issue of AFR Magazine, available in the Financial Review this Friday October 5.

The full Power issue also ranks and reveals the key movers-and-shakers across politics, business, banking, property, sport, technology and education.

The 2018 Cultural Power List Panel included:

  • Elizabeth Ann Macgregor – Museum of Contemporary Art Director
  • Michael Lynch – former arts administrator
  • Brett Sheehy – Melbourne Theatre Company CEO and artistic director
  • Sam Mostyn – Citibank Australia chair
  • Russell Howcroft – Price Waterhouse Cooper’s chief creative office
  • Amanda Duhie – Adelaide Film Festival creative director
  • Margaret Zhng – stylist, writer, influencer

The full 2018 Power Lists are available online at, as well as inside the Power Issue of AFR Magazine, available in the Financial Review today.