Who the Hell Does the AHA Think It’s Fooling?

November 7, 2007 at 1:10 am (Uncategorized)

Oh COME ON, Australian Hotels Association (AHA) – give me a break! Talk about pushing the bounds of my and just about everyone who’s not a member’s credulity! They must think we’re idiots.

In the wake of the State Government’s decision to allow for small bars licensing of $500, the AHA has come out seething, but the argument is nothing short of RISIBLE. Absolutely risible.

The claim that small wine bars are going to make the Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) laws impossible to uphold is simply bogus. As it happens I hold an RSA certificate. The problems with the RSA exist within the big pubs and hotels, where staff simply can’t keep track of individual consumption, and where places are often so cavernous (pick any of the disgusting and huge Corso pubs in Manly if you need an example) it’s impossible to effectively police drunken and antisocial behaviour. The AHA does not care about enforcing the RSA laws, they care about sewing up the booze market, which is huge. It is cynical and gross to even invoke the RSA laws as a reason why the AHA was against the small bars legislation. Just come off it, AHA execs. How can you even say that when you know about and in fact depend upon the prevailing binge-drinking culture of pubs and hotels throughout Sydney?

How will small bars be different? Well, the ones I envisage will indeed be small. It’ll be really, really easy to track consumption. Also, their function is totally different, and everything I know about drinking – and I know quite a bit – suggests to me that the small wine bars are going to be catering to an entirely different crowd to the poker machine people, aiming squarely at those imbibers who are looking for something other than the fastest, cheapest way to get legless and laid. I doubt there will be much crossover at all, so I don’t even think the AHA has much to worry about. They’re not going to lose their core market of rampant inebriates. We do a solid line of them in Australia generally and in Sydney specifically. It’s the way we’re raised around here, and excessive binge drinking in big pubs is a rite of passage for many Sydneysiders growing up. It’s certainly the blur of my teen years. Anyone else any different? I didn’t think so.

But anyone over a certain age and level of experience won’t be going to the filthy packed piss pits now, we outgrew them a long time ago, and most of the people who patronise that kind of venue now simply won’t be interested in sitting in a little wine bar listening to records and chatting over a glass of pinot. No, they’ll be going out in big packs with their mates, and they’ll be shouting themselves hoarse in overcrowded beer gardens where they can smoke, perve on the talent, and play drinking games until Cherie pukes and Gav gets in a fight. Ah, happy memories of being young in the sun…

But give it a rest, AHA. Your insincerity in denying it all boils down to a grab for cash is quite frankly putting me off my drink.

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