By James Atkinson

The anti-alcohol lobby and the Federal Government's gaming machine reforms were in the firing line this week in another spirited address by Australian Hotels Association (NSW) president Scott Leach.  

At the AHA (NSW) Awards for Excellence dinner on Monday, Leach said pubs are "fed up with being the whipping boy for far bigger social issues".

"The industry is tired of being blamed for individual actions of people who take no responsibility for their actions at all. It's time this farce stopped," he said.

"Many in our community seem unwilling to take on these emerging challenges, especially the zealots who naively blame alcohol."

"They don’t acknowledge recreational substance abuse, pre-fuelling and the obvious erosion of respect."

In words reminiscent of his fiery speech at the same event last year, Leach condemned the Federal Government's "misguided" attempt to introduce voluntary pre-commitment legislation for gaming machines.

"This week the Federal Government is seeking to pass new laws which will require a billion dollar investment by hotels and clubs in a policy that does nothing to achieve its goals… in a policy that is untried, unproven with no electoral mandate… a policy that threatens the financial underpinning of this industry."

"We did not seek or invite this conflict with the federal government. We did not expect or anticipate such an extreme unproven policy response. The true measure of this industry’s strength is how we will rise to meet this challenge," he declared.

Leach called on Labor MPs to cross the floor and vote their true Labor values "rather than toe the line and vote on the values being imposed on them by the Greens".

"This industry will not accept excuses from members of the government who claim they spoke up in Caucus but then had to toe the party line. That is gutless and lacking moral fibre."

The Shout Team

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

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