Lobbyists: Steve Hambleton at #9. Steve Hambleton is the recently elected boss of one of the most influential lobby groups in Australian history: the Australian Medical Association. The AMA, which represents about 27,000 medical professionals, has made an art form of grabbing headlines, getting in politicians faces and preserving the power of doctors in the health system.

“The AMA people could be arms deep in an operation and they’d still do an interview,” says Jennifer Doggett, a health policy analyst at the Centre for Policy Development. “They have been very vocal, image-focused, media-focused … They have been incredibly influential.”

In the last survey of federal politicians’ lobbying preferences, conducted in 2006, the pollies voted the AMA the top Canberra-based lobby group.

“They invest in advocacy; they are always in the media; they are one of the first sources that journalists ring up,” says Melissa Sweet, who has been a health journalist for 20 years. “They have a media profile that is out of proportion to their role in the health sector.”

Bald and bespectacled, Hambleton became AMA president in May after holding senior roles in the organisation for the past 10 years. He’s a practising Catholic who has worked at the same Brisbane medical centre for the past 23 years. — Matthew Knott (read the full profile here)

Who’s next on Greg Smith’s media hit list? Daily Telegraph readers are (allegedly) bigots, (some) 2GB callers are red necks and Crikey is (largely) gossip. NSW Liberal Attorney-General Greg Smith certainly knows how to make friends in the media. So who’s next on his hit list?

Sydney shock jock Ray Hadley, No.3 on our recent list of powerful Media Megaphones, yesterday confronted the Member for Epping about slurs against his listeners and readers of Sydney’s biggest-selling daily allegedly made at the Pennant Hills Liberal Christmas party on Saturday night. –– Tom Cowie (read the full story here)

Ten myths about the tabloids, from Hugh Grant. Looking as troubled as he ever did in Four Weddings and a Funeral — and occasionally being as funny — actor Hugh Grant delivered a depressing account to the UK media inquiry yesterday of what it’s like to be pursued by Britain’s tabloids.

Taking aim at the Murdochs’ now-defunct News of the World, the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, Grant proclaimed: “I don’t want to see the end of popular print journalism. A free press is the cornerstone of democracy there is no question about that. I just think there is a section of our press that has allowed to become toxic over the last 30 years. The main tactic seems to be bullying and blackmail and it takes courage to stand up to. I think it’s time this country found the courage to stand up [to it now].” — Paul Barry (read the full story here)

Men still divided on gender diversity. Business groups have long strived to push the business case for gender diversity but a good portion of men in senior leadership roles still haven’t received the memo on just what the benefits actually are, according to a new survey.

The survey, What stops women from reaching the top?, by Chief Executive Women and consultancy firm Bain, finds that just 55% of men believe gender parity has any bottom line benefits, compared to 76% of women. — The Power Index (read the full story here)

Peter Fray

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