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10 Questions - Stephen Ferguson

Summer Reading

Australian Hotels Association chief executive Stephen Ferguson steps up to answer InQueensland Summer Readings’s 10 Questions.

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Did anything good come out of 2021?

I turned 60 and I’m still here. But more seriously 2021 again reminded us of the smaller things in life that we have taken for granted be it seeing our loved ones or popping into the local pub with your mates.

What’s your favourite summer memory?

As a young fella, sitting under the shade of the pepper trees in Manilla (NSW), with my brothers and cousins, while my dad and uncles had a cold beer and told yarns – some of which may have been true.

Are you a summer or a winter person?

I grew up in two very cold places – Blayney (NSW) and Canberra. Since I left there, I have kept heading north. During winter, I love telling colleagues in Melbourne that some days in Brisbane are so cold that I have to put thongs on to keep my feet warm.

How do you stay resilient during periods of change, like the year just gone?

The incredible resilience of the AHA members who have lived with now two years of the uncertainty of immediate closures and the financial and emotional stress associated with this situation is what helps me dig deep and keep what actually matters in perspective. My job is to explain to the federal politicians in Canberra how their actions, or lack of them, affect the lives of people in the hospitality and accommodation business. When the going gets tough, I just talk to a few hoteliers for their perspective. Their resilience shines through and that keeps me going.

Who were your heroes of 2021?

A great mate of mine Craig Harley runs the best fund-raising lunch in Brisbane each year. The lunch is hosted by the McGuire family at the Paddo Tavern. Smart Pups places service dogs to assist children with special needs like autism. Each year at the lunch we see the difference a Smart Pup has made to a recipient and their family – it makes grown men cry. Smart Pups is crying out for a block of land to keep up with demand and help more kids and families. Patron Dawn Fraser AC, Tom McGuire and Craig are leading the charge.

What’s your secret ambition?

Hit a golf ball straight.

What’s your favourite holiday spot?

Burleigh Heads is a world class destination. After a swim, so many terrific venues to share a beer, wine or cocktail and a meal with friends and family. The Tallebudgera River over the Burleigh Headland is a hidden gem.

What are you hoping for in 2022?

Cheaper draught beer! Each six months for the last 30 years the Government has increased the excise on draught beer. Governments love beer excise because it’s a hidden tax. Before you have had your first sip of a nice, cold, frothy schooner, you have paid tax three times – income tax, GST and the excise tax. Enough is enough. We are asking the Government for a 50% cut to the excise rate for draught beer. Every time a beer gets poured it creates a job – there shouldn’t be a hidden tax on jobs.

What have you been watching on television/streaming services lately?

I’m not watching replays of the NRL Grand Final where the mighty Rabbitohs just couldn’t quite get the win. Ted Lasso was a cracker – it’s not often the Yanks make comedy this good.

Any people or businesses to watch in 2022?

Obviously, the contest between Scomo and Albo will be front page. But the race for Queensland senate seats, and possibly the balance of power, between Pauline Hanson, Amanda Stoker, Campbell Newman and the Greens, will be one to watch.


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