Respected hotelier Peter Hurley AO recently announced that he will be retiring as president of the Australian Hotels Association South Australia (AHA SA) next year.

Hurley made the announcement at the annual AHA SA President’s Christmas Lunch, stating he will step down from the role at the association’s AGM on 30 April, to allow the younger generation of hoteliers to have a larger role in the oversight of the organisation. Hurley has held the role of president since 1994, being re-elected every year since then unchallenged.

The well-respected South Australian publican will continue to run his successful Hurley Hotel Group, which began with the purchase the Wudinna Hotel on the Eyre Peninsula at age 24 with wife Jenny. Since then, the pair have grown the business to include 12 hotels across the state that employ thousands of people.

An enduring legacy

Hurley has had an illustrious career at AHA SA, joining the council in 1979. Besides the long-held presidency, he was also the chair of various committees within the organisation, including Hospitality Group Training, the largest group training scheme in South Australia. Hurley has also held the national AHA presidency twice, and was made an officer of the Order of Australia in 2016.

Ian Horne, CEO of AHA SA, has worked with Hurley for a cumulative 17 years, and said that the president’s legacy was one of great achievement in changing the face of the South Australian Hotel industry.

“He’s been a great stalwart for the hotel industry in South Australia. A lot of people are so grateful for his representation and his capacity to work with both sides of government. He always has the best outcome for all hoteliers in his sights.”

Hurley’s accomplishments in his tenure included chairing the Sip’n Save retail outlets in the 1980s – a group which is now nation-wide – to allow publicans to compete with grocers; ushering in the inclusion of gaming in South Australian hotels in 1994; and putting together a package that allowed publicans to purchase the freeholds of over 100 hotels from Lion Nathan.

“All of those things add up to that we’ve enjoyed incredible stability. We’ve been an inclusive organisation, and people have been very comfortable and confident that despite the challenges we face on a yearly basis, there was a level of comfort that Peter Hurley was there,” stated Horne.

AHA national president Scott Leach also lauded Hurley’s work.

“To put it simply, Peter Hurley’s contribution to the hotel industry in South Australia and across this nation is undisputed.

“Peter is an industry icon, supported by his wonderful wife Jenny and family, they’ve built a fantastic business which employs thousands, and Peter’s great contribution through his community and philanthropic work has seen him awarded an AO which was thoroughly deserved.”

Leach continued: “A thorough gentleman, a pillar of integrity, a sharp intellect and not a person you’d want to fight with! Whilst we will all miss Peter we know he’s only a phone call away.”

Hurley was also praised at the lunch by Premier Jay Weatherill and state Liberal leader MP Steven Marshall.

AHA SA will elect a new president at next year’s State Council on 1 May.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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