Australian Hotels Association
The Australian Hotels Association is an employer advocacy and lobby group representing hoteliers around Australia.
The AHA was established in 1839, and is an organisation of employers registered under Commonwealth Industrial Relations law and respective State Laws. In early April 1839, several meetings of Licensed Victuallers (Hoteliers) were held in Hobart at the White Horse Tavern, Liverpool St. At one of these meetings it was suggested that a sociey be formed for the mutual benefit and protection of it members.1 Today the AHA is a federation of state-based hotels associations.
There are 8 state based Hotel Associations, one in each state or territory. These state associations fund and support the AHA national body through a National Board made up of delegates from the states and territories. Presidents of each branch meet regularly to discuss strategic and executive matters, as the National Executive.2
The AHA describes its major activities as communications, policy development, advocacy for the tourism industry, government and industry liaison and corporate partnerships.3 The AHA is represented on the National Tourism Alliance, Tourism Minister’s Advisory Council, National Tourism and Aviation Advisory Committee, AAA Tourism Industry Advisory Forum, Mass Gatherings Infrastructure Assurance Advisory Group, Australian Customs Service Passenger Facilitation Taskforce (Aviation and Tourism Industry). Further to this, the AHA has also held seats on the board of Tourism Australia.
In May 2010 the AHA (NSW) CEO Sally Fielke said it would support support reintroducing the old Summary Offences Act that gave police powers to crack down on street offences, drunkenness and hooliganism.4 It was reported that "anyone convicted of an alcohol-related anti-social behaviour offence could be banned from entering licensed venues under a radical proposal from the AHA. The Sun-Herald newspaper claimed that the NSW State Government was considering a plea by the pub industry to introduce British-style booze legislation to stem the violence epidemic in pubs and turn responsibility back on to individuals.4
The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) in 2010 alleged that one of the most senior figures in the NSW Liberal Party, Michael Photios, was being paid by the Australian Hotels Association NSW branch to provide advice in anticipation of the Coalition winning government in the next NSW State Election. These political links to the industry body emerged a week after the paper revealed the former Labor health minister Reba Meagher is also on its payroll as a lobbyist and as the Independent Commission Against Corruption announced an inquiry into political lobbying in NSW.5
In 2010 the SMH reported that less than two years after she quit state parliament, the former health minister Reba Meagher had returned as a lobbyist for the NSW branch of the AHA.6 Meagher listed her new company, RPM Counsel, of which she is the sole director, in Parliament's register of lobbyists. She names as a client the Australian Hotels Association (NSW), which is campaigning against the extension of licensing restrictions in pubs to address alcohol-related violence. Among Ms Meagher's final duties as health minister in 2008 was the launch of a responsible drinking campaign aimed at young people.
The AHA is considered one of the most influential lobby groups in Australia,7 and the AHA NSW Branch provides considerable financial support to the Australian Labor Party. Between 1998 and 2006, the AHA NSW Branch contributed over A$700,000 to the NSW branch of the ALP.8
In April 2008 the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the AHA NSW had frozen all political donations. The association's new president, Scott Leach, announced the decision to freeze the donations 2 weeks after his election as president. Mr Leach said "the move was part of a review of how the association operated. Political donations made by the AHA are under review - we've pressed the pause button."910 However, the AHA (NSW) donations declaration lodged with the NSW Electoral Funding Authority in February 2009 showed that its political contributions had resumed the next month in May 2008, with donations to political parties between May 2008 and December 2008 reaching nearly $100,000.11 The AHA (NSW) made another $81,317 12 in donations to political parties in the period of January 2009 to 30 June 2009, bringing contributions in the period from Leach's announcement to the end of June 2008 to over $180,000, twice as high as the average annual donations made in the 8 years preceding leach's election to the AHA Presidency.13 In 2010, in anticipation of a Coalition victory in the next state election, donations to the Coalition rose, while those to Labor fell.14
Sally Fielke, a solicitor and former CEO of the Northern Territory AHA commenced as the CEO of the AHA NSW in March 2008 at the age of 34 becoming the first female CEO of the AHA NSW.15 Not happy with the level of publicity around issues of Poker machines, smoking, drinking and political donations, Sally Fielke has created headlines for herself by engaging in stunts such as writing to Danish Royal, Princess Mary, to ask her to be the patron of their Foundation Race Day at Rosehill races.16 Sally reportedly told her: "Given your well-publicised meeting with the Crown Prince at one of our member venues, the Slip Inn, the hotel industry in NSW certainly has a soft spot for you and the Crown Prince.16 Sally also told a industry online video publication17 that she took interest in reading Hitler's Mein Kampf.
The CEO of the AHA (WA) Bradley Woods has confirmed that the organisation supports the introduction of alcohol identification cards to try to reduce alcohol-related problems in Western Australia's Kimberley region, saying that "the system can measure and restrict the flow of alcohol and would be more effective than takeaway liquor bans".18 It also announced its support for a voluntary alcohol ban among pregnant women in the Kimberley to assist and reduce the rate of babies born with foetal alcohol syndrome.19
- "NSW publicans seek ban on drunks". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2010-05-09.
- "Hotels paying senior Liberal". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2010-05-19.
- "She's back … Meagher returns as lobbyist for pubs". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2010-05-10.
- Richard Baker (2007-05-17). "Victory drinks for Labor branch on hotel association". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
- Miranda Divine (2007-08-16). "And the winner is ... Melbourne". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- "Pubs turn off the political donations tap". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2008-04-25.
- Andrew Clennell, "Pubs turn off the political donations tap"  2008-04-24
- Klan, Anthony (2010-02-02). "Hotels retain influence with political donations". The Australian.
- Nicholls, Sean (2010-10-02). "Follow the money: clubs back Nats". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Hildebrand, Joe (2009-07-11). "Princess Mary worth the punt for NSW AHA". The Daily Telegraph.
- Tasmanian Hospitality Association
- Australian Hotels Association (WA)
- Australian Hotels Association (SA)
- Queensland Hotels Association
- Australian Hotels Association (NSW)
- Australian Hotels Association (ACT)
- Australian Hotels Association (NT)
- Australian Hotels Association - Canberra Office
- International Hotel & Restaurant Association