By Amelia Ball

After 11 years in the hot seat, AHA NSW president John Thorpe will retire tomorrow (Apr 8).

Thorpe will step down at the NSW branch’s Annual General Meeting tomorrow, followed by the election of his replacement and the board’s regional and metropolitan members.

The outgoing president said he will retain his responsibilities with Tourism NSW and his family business, The Harbord Hotel, while also revealing his plans to write a book.

“It will be a history of what I’ve seen through the association over the past 20 odd years… and I want to identify the issues and what has occurred within the community,” Thorpe said.

Much of this relates to concerns around late-night drinking, gaming, the state’s tourism industry and a response to ongoing media queries over AHA contributions to the government.

“The innuendos from those [reports] have made me very upset that it has reflected on the association. It’s been the press just beating it up to say we own the government… These are some of the issues I want to bring to the fore without looking over my shoulder,” he said.

Thorpe said the industry had changed significantly during his tenure, with younger drinkers now starting and finishing later as just one of the factors creating new issues for licensed venues.

As a result, Thorpe said coming industry priorities revolve around adequate police resources and the need for staggered closing hours instead of enforced lockouts to avoid incidents on the streets.

“We need police resourcing at the appropriate times… The police rostering system has to change,” he said.

Thorpe’s outspoken stance on a number of issues has often made headlines, most recently with the plan for small bars in NSW.

“If there’s one thing I’ve achieved, it’s that people know the AHA exists. I think that’s very important. We have to be accountable and responsible.” 

The Shout Team

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

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