In a recent speech at a national Australian Hotels Association (AHA) board lunch in Melbourne, managing director of Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) John Pollaers paid tribute to an industry led by small businesses.

“AHA executive, distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman.

Welcome to the botanical gardens. You can’t get any more Melbournian than this, in fact, you can’t get much better than this.

Melbourne is blessed with fantastic sporting events, cultural events, fabulous food and of course wonderful company.

It’s an honour for CUB to host you all here today.

And at the outset I want to say thank you to David Dearie, Managing Director of Treasury Wine Estates, who has provided the wonderful wines you will enjoy with your lunch.

But it is an honour for CUB to host this lunch today

Many of you will be aware of the changes CUB has been through, in fact buffeted by over the last few years

And I hope that over the last year you’ve begun to see CUB returning its focus to those things that made this such a great company.

Focussing on relationships that bring out the best in our partners and the best in ourselves.

Focussing on our consumers, creating great times and great experiences

We at CUB are developing a bold vision. We want to be the beer company loved by Australians

And we are building this new vision on our: proud heritage, our great brands, and being Australian owned.

This company represents 150 years of entrepreneurship of salesmen, businessmen, memorable marketing campaigns and even the Clydesdales.

And those of us charged now with the responsibility to lead this company recognise that we stand on the shoulders of the giants who have come before us.

And speaking of giants I want to pay a special tribute to the AHA

Over many years of our association with the AHA it has represented not just its members; the hotels, pubs and clubs of Australia, but it has represented the whole industry.

It has built strong lasting relationships with both sides of government and broadly with community groups across Australia

Not a single community club, be it sporting or otherwise, has not benefitted from the Friday night or weekend raffle from those pubs and clubs.

The pubs, clubs and hotels of Australia have provided a safe place for family and friends to celebrate, and to just spend time with each other

It was quite a shock to me coming back to Australia 6 months ago, to see the extent of the unwarranted, and I believe misdirected attention being focussed on the pubs clubs and hotels of Australia around the issue of violence

We, the broader industry, and the AHA understand our responsibility around this issue. We are family businesses with families of our own.

We’re involved in developing responsible service standards across the country and developing training programs.

In fact the AHA is working with the industry, and has demonstrated its leadership in being part of the formation of Drinkwise, an organisation whose focus is on shifting Australia towards a healthier drinking culture.

In my view we need to continue to work with government and the community to address the issue of violence.

But it is important to recognise that one of the most significant drivers of violence in the community that impacts our industry is the use of illicit drugs.

Governments and community groups are aware of these issues, but as yet no resources are being put forward to deal with these issues.

And it does not yet appear that any government has the courage to take on what is a significant issue. It is not until this issue is dealt with that we will be able to properly see what the real issues are. And unfortunately until then, alcohol will continue to unfairly attract the unwarranted attention.

Turning to small business, the AHA and its members represent the largest 1st time employer in Australia and they make an invaluable contribution not just to society but to the economy, particularly Australia’s enviable reputation as a tourist destination. These small business are an important part of our economy.

I don’t envy the government’s difficult task of managing the macro economy, particularly in the face of the commodity boom.

However, it needs to be made clear that the pubs, clubs and hotels of Australia are not benefiting from that macro environment and are still doing it tough.

They need support.

The consumer environment is depressed and it looks like it will take some time before consumer confidence and therefore spending improves. Until that time we need the support of government, we need certainty over the tax environment that there wont be further tax changes, we need certainty in the banking environment and the imposts around securing funding and we need reduced regulation to make it easier to do business.

This is an industry led by small business

Many of those businesses are family businesses, and are under unreal pressure right now.

We need the ongoing support of governments to create the environment for entrepreneurship of these small businesses to continue. Please don’t regulate us out of business.”

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The Shout Team

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

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