Mr COWDREY (Colton) (11:06): I move
That this house—
(a) recognises the Australian Hotels Association (South Australian Branch), AHA-SA, was established in 1871 and has been an integral part of South Australia's hospitality and tourism industry for more than 150 years;
(b) notes that the AHA-SA is a peak industry organisation that represents and protects the commercial interests of hoteliers throughout South Australia, providing advice on a range of topics, including legislative changes, licensing, gaming, industrial relations, insurance, responsible gambling and community liaison;
(c) acknowledges the social and economic contributions of AHA-SA and its members, which comprise 630 hotels in South Australia, from small country pubs to five-star hotels and resorts; and
(d) recognises the valuable work by AHA-SA Executive Council and its Awards of Excellence program to fulfil its mission to encourage, foster and promote the pursuit of excellence in service, facilities and management practices among members for the benefit of the industry and the community of South Australia.
Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:31): I rise to support this motion that is giving great accolades to the Australian Hotels Association, an organisation in place since 1871 and an integral part of South Australia's hospitality and tourism industry for over 150 years.
The Adelaide University Centre for Economic Studies research has shown that pubs and hotels employ 26,250 South Australians and contribute well in excess of $4 billion to the local economy. The Australian Hotels Association members contribute $577 million per annum to the state's taxation—a huge sum of money. It is a staggering 10.7 per cent of the total South Australian taxation revenue.
The Australian Hotels Association (SA) members pay the annual salary of 2,229 teachers or the equivalent of 1,689 frontline nurses. The revenue generated by the industry helps to provide essential services for the government, schools, hospitals and our community.
To help its members navigate and succeed in business, the South Australian branch of the Australian Hotels Association provides advice and keeps its members up to date on a range of topics, including legislative changes, licensing, gaming, industrial relations, insurance and responsible gambling.
I want to acknowledge some giants of the industry: Ian Horne, David Basheer and Peter Hurley, true giants of the industry, who navigated the hotel group through difficult times through COVID. There was a lot of interaction and certainly sometimes they were not formal meetings, but during informal meetings I would run into these people and we would discuss the implications of what the world—not just this country—was dealing with, the implications of COVID right across the world and how to keep people safe.
In fact, the federal modelling has shown that with the strict restrictions that had to be in place at times—and no-one was comfortable, I certainly was not comfortable having to wear masks all the time—we saved 46,000 lives. It is easy to criticise the work that we did from this side, but when you are in the driver's seat and you have a world pandemic that has not been seen for centuries, since the Spanish flu, very difficult decisions had to be made.
Yes, there was a lot of sacrifice across the board, but there were some positives for the hotels people. The federal government put in JobKeeper, which kept a lot of hotels and accommodation places operating. They managed to pivot with their staff and do a lot of maintenance themselves. A lot of upkeep was done to a lot of places. People essentially transformed bar staff into painters and other jobs to help the upkeep of their properties.
It was a really difficult time. Of course, people did not agree with those restrictions, but also there were venues that were totally booked out as quarantine hotels, for obvious reasons, when people had to quarantine, whether it was here in the city or in the regions. Certainly, as a regional member, there were some interesting times when people were quarantined in border hotels in Mount Gambier and other places and perhaps could have quarantined at home. It is all very easy to look back in hindsight when difficult decisions had to be made.
I must mention what we did as a government to support industry, especially with migrant workers coming into the country. I know at one stage we had 100 migrant horticultural workers coming in from the Pacific Islands. Twelve could not get on the plane because they tested positive from their launch point of Vanuatu. But we hosted and paid for that quarantine time for a fortnight in Adelaide so that we could get vital workers in place to support our regional food industries. Sometimes that is forgotten.
They were tough times, but we are moving on. Hotels are really picking up their straps. In my electorate of Hammond there are hotels right across the board, in Murray Bridge, Mannum, Langhorne Creek and Strathalbyn. It was interesting about the Bridgeport Hotel, with Ian Tregoning and Graham Hobbs as the people in charge there. I am just glad they made the decision to build that six-storey complex before COVID hit, because I have not been game to ask them whether they would have built it when COVID hit.
That was opened during a difficult time. I talked to the Tregoning Group for around nine years, saying, 'We need this sort of accommodation in Murray Bridge. We have a lot of very good three-star accommodation, but we don't have any hotels of 4½ stars and above in the region.' We have since seen a lot of improvement with Rydges, which is just outside of Hammond now at Tailem Bend at the motorsport park, and with Monarto Safari Park about to open in a little while. It will have 78 rooms there very soon, and then there are some glamping sites. I think there are 22 of those coming on as well.
The Bridgeport Hotel is a $45 million build. It won the Overall Hotel of the Year—Regional at the 2022 Australian hotel awards. That was a national award, apart from myriad state awards that that hotel has won. It has become a real focus point, but it also highlights the fact that people can visit other hotels in the region while they are perhaps staying at the Bridgeport.
The turnaround that people have had locally has been amazing, especially after the hard times that people experienced in their hotels during the River Murray floods earlier this year and late last year. Certainly, the Mannum Hotel had problems, mainly with water flow seeping in around the outside of the hotel. The Hurley group in charge of the Pretoria Hotel tried to build their own bund, but in the end they had to give in to nature. We were not at the stage of 1956, when they were serving alcohol from the top-floor balcony straight into the boats of people coming past, but I certainly had the opportunity when the flood did come through to view the amount of water in the cellar.
I must commend them for the recovery work they have done there to get that hotel back up and running to its normal speed, and I must commend the Hurley family and others for being able to relocate their staff, not just locally; some of them were sent to Queensland and were kept employed by the group to keep the cash in their pockets.
Right up and down the river, a lot of hotel rooms and other accommodation was booked for emergency accommodation. It was not just for people needing emergency housing; it was also for the emergency services. There was valuable work done by the emergency services during the lead-up to the floods, the actual flood impact and then the recovery efforts since. The Hotels Association certainly played a huge role in that.
Hotels are a great meeting place in the community. They generate a lot of money for the community. They are vital in keeping up community connectivity and become a real meeting place, so I support them into the future and look forward to their lunch later in the year.