By James Wells in Hobart

The AHA National President Peter Hurley last night inducted John Haddad AO into the Johnnie Walker Hall of Fame at the AHA national awards at Wrest Point Hotel in Hobart.

This is the speech delivered by Peter Hurley:

It should never be said that the Australian Hotels Association lacks a sense of occasion. Wrest Point will soon celebrate forty years since it opened its doors as Australia’s first licensed casino hotel. 

What better time for the Association to pay tribute to the driving force behind this iconic development, a 23-year President of the AHA 

National Accommodation Division, and the pioneer of the casino industry in Australia, John M. Haddad AO. 

John began his hotel career as a young medical student in the former Kings Hotel in Melbourne, where he displayed significant promise and became the youngest licensee in Victoria at the age of just 23. [continues below]

Daryl Washington – GM TAA (Vic), Des Crowe – CEO AHA National, John Haddad AO and AHA Hall of Fame inductee and Steve Old – GM THA.

By 1970 he was the General Manager of the Federal Hotels Group, which owned several hotels in Tasmania and Victoria. 

Two years before this, Tasmania had voted convincingly in a referendum to establish a licensed casino. John became the driving force behind Federal’s efforts to win that licence, and in the process of his negotiations with the state government, he 

established the taxation and regulatory model which corruption-proofed the casino industry 

The Tasmanian model was eventually adopted by every state and territory government as the framework for regulating Australia’s 12 other casinos. Today Australia enjoys an international reputation for legitimate, responsible gambling that is the envy of countries around the world. 

John also played an important part in the establishment of the fabulous Crown Casino in Melbourne in the 1990s as Deputy Chairman of Crown when it established the world’s largest casino at the time. 

John served as President of the AHA National Accommodation Division from 1972 to 1995, and in this time he was the face of the accommodation industry in Australia. His leadership, energy and influence helped ensure a greater focus by governments on tourism as an economic driver, and contributed to the AHA being seen as the prominent advocate in this area. 

As Accommodation Division President, John saw to it that the AHA established a strong focus on the issues of the fast-developing accommodation industry and that we developed the necessary expertise to advocate on behalf of our members. 

When I first attended an AHA National Board Meeting, about 30 years ago, here in Hobart by coincidence, John Haddad was the clearly the most influential hotelier in the nation. 

He was simultaneously the Chair of the Australian Tourist Commission. He was the go-to person for successive Prime Ministers. 

When the Pilots Strike threw the tourism industry into chaos in 1989, Prime Minister Hawke was straight on the phone to John. If governments didn't ring him for advice John would be on the phone to them. His influence in our industry has never been matched. 

This is a man of such tremendous ability and determination, that his success seems almost inevitable. As a young man he was promising in studying piano under Roy Shepherd. As his hotel career developed he pursued other interests including international trade development – serving on numerous Federal Government board and advisory groups and specialising in Australia-Japan trade relations. He has been an enormous contributor to the arts, was Chairman of the Australian National Academy of Music until 2008 and is currently patron of the Victorian Arts Centre. 

He was, as I said, Chairman of the Australian Tourism Commission for ten years until 1995, is currently Chairman of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and has been a board member of the Victorian Major Events Corporation since 1991. 

John has twice been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List – as a Member of the Order of Australia in 1988 and as an Officer in 1999. He was made an Advance Australia Ambassador in 1989 and has received tourism and industry accolades too numerous to mention. 

He is joined tonight by his wife Agita. 

The AHA has continued to build on its commitment to the accommodation industry. Recently we established Tourism Accommodation Australia as a dedicated representative body for accommodation hotels. As the accommodation industry continues to evolve, so too must our approach to servicing it. 

On his retirement from the National Executive I recall we made a special presentation to John acknowledging his service to the Association. He is also a life member of the AHA both nationally and in Victoria, but now he will be enshrined in the AHA Johnnie Walker Hall of Fame. 

The Hall of Fame initiative with Diageo has been an unqualified success, and although Tim Salt sends his apologies tonight I am joined here on stage by Danny Celoni for this presentation on behalf of Diageo 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to ask you to charge your glasses, be upstanding and welcome to the stage the newest inductee to the AHA Johnnie Walker Hall of Fame – a true legend of the Australian hotel industry – John Haddad.

The Shout Team

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1 Comment

  1. Great to see that John Haddad will never be forgotten for all the investment of his life that he has made to the Australian Hospitality/Tourism Industry.

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