By Andrew Starke

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has reacted angrily to a newspaper report it says aimed to reopen animosity between hoteliers and police.

Under the heading ‘Hotel War on Police’, Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph (June 30) accused the AHA in NSW of distributing a flyer to hoteliers that alleged police officers were guilty of ‘fraud and misrepresentation’.

While admitting that the AHA had (and continues to have) differences with the Police Association over the true state of violence in hotels, AHA (NSW) CEO, Sally Fielke said the newspaper had its facts wrong.

“This is another case of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story,” she said. “The truth is there was never ‘a flyer’ distributed to hoteliers accusing the police of anything.”

Fielke told TheShout that the comments, attributed to AHA (NSW) President Scott Leach, were culled from a letter covering a wide range of industry issues submitted to both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph three months ago when police assault figures were being called into question.

In the letter, which Fielke says the Daily Telegraph reporter was made aware of, Leach rejects calls by the NSW Police Association “that our State is a ‘blood bath’ awash with violence’.

“This emotive language is only designed to scapegoat hotels, get a headline in the lead-up to the Police Association elections, and to dominate the spin cycle that passes for public policy in NSW,” he continues.

Fielke said neither newspaper had run the response on their Letters to the Editor page.

“It only became a story when the Telegraph infers there was some type of secret message sent out to hoteliers attacking the police. Wrong on all counts,” she said.

“I repeat, it was never sent out to the membership of the AHA (NSW) in any state or form.”

Fielke said the industry body’s criticism of police statistics on violence in hotels was confirmed by a later report by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) suggesting the reduction of violent incidents in Newcastle had been overstated by police.

“Our message remains the same,” she said. “Hotels have never been safer … they are still the safest places in which to drink with friends and there is no one solution to anti-social behaviour in our community. Personal responsibility and education remain the only long-term solutions.”

To comment, click here.


The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *