By Andrew Starke
Australian Hotels Association (AHA) NSW chief executive Sally Fielke has moved to defend the industry from a number of allegations contained in a new study.
The study – “Differences in licensee, police and public opinions regarding interventions to reduce alcohol-related harm associated with licensed premises” – was published by the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
The study found licensees’ attitude to alcohol-fuelled violence was at odds with that of the police and the public, who thought pub owner’ had a responsibility to protect patrons’ safety.
In particular, licensees were generally opposed to providing free food in pubs / clubs to slow the effects of alcohol and the reduction of licensed premise / retail liquor outlet trading hours.
“An important consideration is that there are clear commercial imperatives governing licensees’ behaviour,” the report said. “If licensees take action to reduce alcohol consumption, they may be putting profits in jeopardy. Licensees in this study had low levels of agreement with strategies that would cost them money.”
However Feilke said the AHA rejected the report’s findings as ‘not accurately reflecting the views of hotels, clubs, restaurants and other licensed premises in 2009’.
“Hotels generate their income from a variety of areas including accommodation, food, beverage, wagering and gaming, entertainment and retail,” she said. “The conclusions drawn by this article fly in the face of the proactive work hoteliers do under their local liquor accords, responsible service of alcohol initiatives etc.”
A total of 400 licensees were invited to participate in the survey with 132 completed forms returned and processed. Licensees included restaurants, pubs, clubs, hotels, taverns, bottleshops, function centres, liquor stores, wineries and vineyards.
Despite disagreeing on a number of measures, there was agreement between licensees, police and public on the need for a stronger focus on responsible drinking, preventing under-age drinking and drink-driving, and limiting happy hours and the sale of cheap drinks.