The Federation Press

Pillars of Power

Australia’s institutions


Pillars of Power is an engaging survey, based on extensive interviews, of where power is based in Australia today.

Journalist and legal commentator David Solomon covers not just government, defence and the courts but also economic regulators, unions, the media, universities and sports.

He explores how these modern “pillars of power” have evolved, and uses the words and experiences of the key players to illuminate their operations and impact on national affairs and individual Australians.


Few writers are better qualified than Solomon for a tricky assignment like this one. For over forty years a Canberra press gallery reporter, Whitlam government political staffer, barrister, outstandingly readable writer for the Australian on the sometimes arcane activities of our High Court; academic, author of many books.... This book is based on a series of articles he wrote for the Brisbane Courier Mail, now fully revised. They draw not only on the author’s personal experience, but gain authority and breadth from the interviews he had with other strategically placed workers at the coalface. This galaxy includes four chief justices, three prime ministers, high public servants, a recent Director-General of ASIO, and our engagingly plainspoken Clerk of the Senate, Harry Evans. The book is well organised, with a comprehensive bibliography and helpful advice on how recent material (such as newly decided cases at law) may be accessed through the internet. In a period when constitutional matters are likely to be discussed with increasing urgency and (perhaps) in more strident voices, this is a book to keep handy. - Quadrant, October 2007

David Solomon’s account of contemporary Australia forensically explores recent developments in Australia’s key political, legal, economic and educational institutions. Pillars of Power will be a handy reference for journalists who did not take courses about Australian government, but who find themselves having to write, say, about trade unions, an aspect of Australia’s federal system, or the role of the Australian public service. These are all topics on which he provides useful chapters... ...his book is also based on some good journalism and an extensive set of interviews which he conducted with a wide range of sources. It is a scholarly work, but not an academic text. That is it is carefully referenced and analytical, but it is not framed by a particular theoretical perspective... To provide a comprehensive account of the transformation of Australia’s legal, political and economic institutions over the past several decades is a massive task. It took Solomon two full years, and he has produced a very useful summary, I will encourage my students in Australian Political Institutions to read large parts of it. - Australian Journalism Review, 30(1) 139

Table of Contents

Government and Parliament
Federalism and the States
Vice-regal institutions
The Public Service
Courts and the law
Defence and security
Economic regulators
International foundations
Conclusion: Evolving institutions

Bibliography / Index

Of interest...