This year was a year no one expected or wanted, where the world experienced a once in one-hundred-year pandemic. With our industry closed, the NT borders shut to the rest of Australia and Australia effectively shut to the rest of the world, the NT’s hospitality industry was turned on its head.
My Annual Report usually details the many and diverse activities of the Association over the course of the year, but as is the case for Members, our plans were derailed by the pandemic.
But rest assured, while our industry was shut or allowed to serve takeaway only, our Association, its Board and staff were certainly working hard behind the scenes to ensure as soon as it was safe to do so, the NT’s hospitality industry could open up.
This Report will summarise some of this, but it would be impossible to capture the hundreds of phone calls to Members, the hundreds of Zoom Meetings and face-to-face meetings, the toing and froing with Government on the ‘Stages’ or our advice on support packages, the relief when industry was allowed to reopen and the first beer was poured, the relief when the borders were able to be safely reopened….the list goes on.
This Editorial is an exert from my President’s Report I presented at the AGM. The full Report is available from our office.
The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the NT’s hospitality industry in ways we never thought possible. The 100-year event, which saw venues close (excluding takeaway sales) from 23rd March to 5th June and the NT and international border restrictions.
The hospitality and tourism industry has been hardest hit and will continue to be impacted moving into 2021.
All aspects of the work that the Hospitality NT office does on behalf of our Members and the broader industry has also been impacted by COVID-19.
Our first Coronavirus specific update was on 5 March, and this has continued until today, sometimes twice a day, depending on the amount of changes we were seeking to communicate to industry as they happened. We provided our ‘Coronavirus Updates’ to all of the NT’s hospitality industry, as well as shared our resources with them and our tourism colleagues.
Without a doubt, many businesses would not be operating today without the support by the Federal Government’s JobKeeper regime. The legislation to enact JobKeeper, through the Fair Work Act, and our office, with assistance from QHA, provided resources, templates and tailored assistance to many Members to get them informed about JobKeeper.
On 14 March, Hospitality NT facilitated a Zoom meeting on JobKeeper, with our IR expert, Joanna Minchinton from QHA. Over 150 hospitality and tourism operators attended this virtual meeting, to learn about eligibility, rostering, contracts and much more. Since that time, we continued to provide resources, templates and personalised advice on JobKeeper and JobKeeper 2.0.
Reopening and Recovery Taskforce
In April the Hospitality NT Board established a COVID-19 Reopening and Recovery Taskforce in order to consider the strategic direction of our industry through the Reopening and Recovery phase of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Taskforce reported to the Board and advised what policy positions should be adopted by the Association to ensure the best possible outcome was achieved for the industry. This was then used in discussions with the Northern Territory Government, particularly the Chief Minister office, the Chief Health Officer and our national body.
The Hospitality NT COVID-19 Reopening and Recovery Sub-Committee comprised of representatives of all sectors of our industry:
• Paul Palmer, Chair
• Russell Reid, Clubs Division Darwin Representative
• Ian McCormack, Clubs Division Regional Representative
• Jason Hanna, Restaurant Division Representative
• David Robinson, Restaurant Division Representative
• Amy McArdle, Wayside Inn Division Representative
• Todd Grierson, Accommodation Division Representative
• Ray Loechel, Hotel Division Regional Representative
• Doug Sallis, Hotel Division Darwin Representative
• Justin Coleman, Hotel Division Palmerston / Rural Area Representative
Through the work of this Taskforce, the NT’s hospitality industry was the first slated to safely and successfully reopen following a nation-wide shutdown. We thank Members for their support and understanding of the ‘new-normal’ and for following all the advice we provided.
Thank you to all the Taskforce Members for your time and hard work on positioning the NT’s hospitality industry as a leader in the nation on operating in an COVID safe environment and working with stakeholders to ensure practical operation of this.
Small Business Survival Fund
We advocated for Hospitality operators to be front of mind with the NT Government’s Coronavirus business support packaged, with over $50 million rolled out over the course of the year to many Territory businesses.
While not all businesses were eligible for this support package, particularly large multinational companies, the Association’s aim was to get as many of our Members as possible eligible to receive support.
Once again, with the financial assistance, this time directly from the NT Government and the Department of Business, under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer, Shaun Drabsch, many local businesses would not have survived.
In the end, the Small Business Survival Fund saw eligible businesses being able to apply for five payments:
- An immediate survival payment of between $2,000 and $50,000 to help offset the immediate cost pressures on businesses;
- A rapid adaption payment of between $1,000 and $5,000 to help businesses make the necessary changes they need to help adapt to the new operating environment;
- An operational boost payment, which provides immediate cash boost to affected businesses to offset the costs of continuing to maintain in business;
- An operational support payment, this payment is for businesses with an annual turnover greater than $75,000 and who have had previous payments from the fund; and
- A rebound support grant of between $1,000 and $15,000 for new activities that adapt or rebound the business to operate effectively in the new economic environment.
A Business Improvement Grant of up to $20,000, with the first $10,000 provided without any co-contribution to make permanent improvements to your business land or building.
An Immediate Work Grants Scheme of up to $50,000 co-contribution for not-for-profit organisations including licensed clubs to undertake repairs, renovations and upgrades to their premises/facilities.
On 10th of November the NT Government handed down their postponed 2020-21 Budget, with a sobering forecast of billions in deficit, in effort to turn the NT economy around and rebound from Coronavirus.
There were several Budget initiatives that we have sent information to Members on, including:
- $7.8 million JobMaker Booster
- $4 million Small Business Pivot Grants
- $5 million for Customer Experience Grants
- $1 million for individual Territory small businesses financial training grants
- $5 million Territory Small Business Saver Grant
- $4 million Territory Small Business Roadhouse to Recovery Grants
- $2 million Territory Small Business Supply Chain Solver
While all these grants may go some way to assisting Members, Hospitality NT has long advocated for financial assistance to be directed towards our Wayside Inn Members, so were pleased to see the Roadhouse to Recovery Grants as we continue to advocate to better include our Wayside Inns into the NT Government’s drive market initiatives.
Some members have sought the timeline for the Roadhouse to Recovery Grants are bought forward to that applications, approvals and work can be done ahead of the next peak Dry Season. We have advocated this at the highest levels and hope to see movement on the timeframes shortly.
LICENSING NT, THE LIQUOR COMMISSION & NT POLICE
Throughout the past year, under the guidance of Director of Liquor Licensing, Phillip Timney, industry has seen some improvement in timeliness of dealings with this Department. There is no doubt that a high degree of red tape still exists, particularly for minor variations to existing licences.
We have also had some concerns with the transparency of decision-making involving matters that is dealt with at the Director level and not referred to the Liquor Commission. While this may seem like a reduction in red tape, sometimes there are bigger policy decisions or implications that should be made more transparent to industry and the community.
The Machinery of Government changes following the 2020 August Election, saw Licensing NT move back into the Department of Business, from the Department of the Attorney-General. This will hopefully ensure that the NT’s hospitality businesses are seen and dealt with in a ‘business’ context rather than purely a regulation context.
Rolling 7-day Emergency Powers
Throughout the year the Director of Liquor Licensing has issued several ‘rolling’ 7-day emergency powers. A few of these were to assist venues during the COVID affected period, or to allow for additional outside capacity (increased licensed footprint) once our industry was allowed to open to assist with extra spacing between customers.
Most recently the Director has used his emergency powers, in accordance with section 257 of the Liquor Act, on the request of NT Police in their attempts to stop ‘sly-grog’ sales throughout the NT. The Director imposed a condition of takeaway liquor licences requiring customers who present identification indicating they reside in a different Territory region must be able to satisfy the Licensee that they will consume the liquor in a lawful place, otherwise the transaction will be refused.
Restrictions were also placed on Licensees with drive through bottleshop facilities, prohibiting liquor sales to passengers in a taxi, private hire car or other commercial vehicle. This restriction also applies to on-duty taxi drivers, which has already been in place in regions for some time but not in Darwin or the rural area. The use of ‘rolling’ 7-day emergency powers, for non-emergency situations is not an appropriate way to deal with a policing matter, which Hospitality NT continues to advocated to the NT Government.
NT Liquor Commission
At this time of writing this Report, the Liquor Commission’s 2019-20 Annual Report has yet to be published. Given the events over the past couple of weeks, it is understandable there has been a delay.
As we have stated on record for a number of years now, Hospitality NT supports the independency, transparency and fairness of the NT Liquor Commission.
Without a doubt, the Liquor Commission seems to have bedded down and is working through a lot of work, with new applications, variations and disciplinary matters all being dealt with regularly. There is still quite lengthy delays, but that seems to be between applicants and Licensing NT, in order to get all the required documentation in order before it is sent to the Commission.
The Commission’s decisions must take into account public interest and community impact, but balanced with community expectations, and our hospitality and tourism industry.
Hospitality NT continues to have regular and open dialogue with NT Police Executive, given their strong involvement in our business environments, especially in regional areas.
The regulation of licensed premises has shifted back to regional commands, from the centralised Alcohol Policing Unit – a reversal of a policy only 3 years old. Again this heightens the amount of desk shuffling going on leading many regional commands to have to start again the important stakeholder engagement and understanding of our business perspective in each region.
Police Auxiliaries continue to man takeaway outlets in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine.
Hospitality NT facilitated Tactical Communication training by Verbal Judo Australia to over 60 licensed crowd controllers, in conjunction with both NT Police and Licensing NT at the start of 2020.
This training was very well received and identified a need to have more communication between these three parties in regards to the safe management of licensed premises, particularly late night traders.
Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA)
As of 1 October 2020, there is now a 3-year expiry on all RSA Certificates. To date no RSA ‘Refresher’ course has been developed or approved by Licensing NT, as such the Director of Liquor Licensing has confirmed he will take no action against this part of the legislation. To remove risk entirely our advice to industry remains to get a new RSA certificate from a low cost online provider if where an RSA certificate is more than 3 years old (as at 1 October 2020).
RSA & International Students
For many years there has been an anomaly with international students not studying a hospitality related course, but working in the NT’s hospitality industry, not being able to get their RSA certificate.
Encouragingly, CDU went through the proper approval process that allows them to provide the accredited RSA course to any international student, including those not studying hospitality but seeking work opportunities in our industry. This RSA course is one day face-to face and run once a month at their Palmerston Campus.
LIQUOR ACT REVIEW
There has been a delay to the Liquor Act technical review commencing resulting from the Machinery of Government changes that have taken effect post the August 2020 election. The newly formed Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade will have carriage of the review, not the Attorney General’s department as had been designed prior to the election.
The Director of Liquor Licensing will soon be writing to industry seeking input and feedback on what parts of the Liquor Act we would like looked at. NT Police have flagged they are seeking some changes. We have been assured of full and robust consultation ahead of any changes – now looking unlikely this calendar year.
Some of the issues we have seen come up since the Liquor Act was implemented last year are:
• Reducing red tape for existing licensees – especially for minor and temporary alterations and variations
• Restore Independent Oversight to Section 258 of the Liquor Act (Police power to suspend licence or authority)
• Further 12-month deferral of Risk Based Licensing
• Further 12-month deferral of RSA Refresher obligations
• Level playing field between licence types and new entrants when ‘activation’ activities are considered
• Licence transfers – red tape and advertising requirements
• Liquor Accords – their resourcing and enforceability
LIQUOR LICENCE ANNUAL FEES
Hospitality NT continues to seek a further deferment of liquor licence fees, which are currently being sent out to all NT licensees, payable by 2 January 2021, given the extreme trading conditions licensees have faced over 2020 and likely to continue into 2021.
However, at this stage it looks like the Gunner Government will continue to roll out of the most complex ‘risk-based’ fee regime in the country, comprising of:
- Base fee
- Venue hours
- Standard hours of authority
- Venue alcohol volume (volume of liquor wholesalers have reported is sent to each venue)
- Multipliers for volume sold and trading hours
- Standard volume (the average standard volume of liquor recorded for that type of authority utilising wholesale data from the previous year)
- Discounts for a range of initiatives (participation in Accords, live music, membership of Association such as Hospitality NT)
- Loading for breaches (first breach 10%, second breach 25%, third breach 50%, fourth breach 100%, fifth breach 200%).
Importantly, licensees need to be aware that any breach against the Liquor Act, including Infringement Notices, regardless of how minor, will count towards this loading. Therefore, Licensees will need to ensure a high level of compliance at their venue and staff, as you can see from the formula above, the breach loadings can sustainably increase your fees.
For the past several years, the Association put a lot of effort in meeting with the Government and Treasury providing detailed modelling of the impact of Stage 1 and 2 of the tax hike, hitting both large and small pubs and clubs equally hard.
In June 2020, the NT Government reversed their tax hike decision.
The NT now has a level taxation regime when compared with interstate, which going forward will assist in unlocking access to capital to undertake job creating upgrades and refurbishments.
Tragically, 2020 only saw a fraction of the normal number of visitors come to the territory, with very little international visitors following the closure of our national borders in March.
We have worked closely with our tourism colleagues from Tourism Top End, Tourism Central Australia and Tourism NT to ensure as much assistance as possible went to businesses directly impacted by the border closures.
In the bigger picture, the Northern Territory was lucky to have no community transmission and very little cases, so is seen to be a safe destination to travel. We are hoping that this translate to a big year next year, but in all likelihood, getting back to pre-covid levels, is probably the most achievable goal, with international travel still impacted.
Customer Service Pilot Project
While not an ideal tourism season this year, Hospitality NT received support from Tourism NT to undertake a pilot in Customer Service training.
The Pilot started in August and was open for hospitality businesses in the greater Darwin area. Hospitality NT modelled its training off the success of the Tasmanian Hospitality Association’s long-standing success, ‘Great Customer Experience’ project that sees every business involved in tourism and hospitality undertake in Tasmania.
‘Chef the NT’ National Campaign
While not under the conditions we expected to have in 2020, Hospitality NT launched a national recruitment campaign, ‘Chef the NT’, primarily targeted kitchen staff to move to the NT. This project was funded by Migration NT, who must, under various labour agreements with the Federal Government, for instance the DAMA, provide evidence of worker attraction initiatives to the domestic market.
Prior to our launch we surveyed Members on their staffing needs and current recruitment activities. We found both an immediate need for skilled staff, as well as recruitment plans in place for February/March 2021.
We capitalised on the fact that the NT’s hospitality industry was the first in the nation to be up and running under a ‘Covid normal’, while other states and territories still had hospitality businesses shut or on very restricted trading. Target markets included Victoria, Sydney and New Zealand.
The ‘Chef the NT’ video was launched on the 5th of October and to date has reached almost 50,000 people. Our aim with this video was to raise awareness of career progression opportunities, better lifestyle activities and work life balance than other capital cities, to incentivise southern-based chefs to consider moving to the NT.
Feedback to date has been very positive, particularly the video, with some wanting the campaign to be expanded in order to attract other hospitality professionals.
In addition to the direct marketing of this campaign, which is primarily being run on social media, as well as industry publications, next year Hospitality NT will also exhibit at the biggest food industry event, Food Services Australia, 27-29 June at the Melbourne Convention Centre. This will be a great time to not only promote the jobs available in our industry, but to promote the industry in general.
The Coronavirus and shutdown period of the NT’s hospitality industry certainly impacted overseas workers. These valued employees were not eligible for any Federal Government assistance, resulting in a very stressful situation, where some had no choice but to return home. Our Association received many calls and emails from employers extremely worried about their staff. Some kept operating take-away only just to ensure their overseas staff could earn some money.
Hospitality NT staff were working closely with Pompea Sweet, Director of Migration NT and her team to ensure our Members were assisted with any query related to visas for instance visa’s expiry, status of visa applications, bridging visas etc.
The impacts to migration are going to be continually felt from our industry into the future, as Australia’s unemployment rate rises and our international borders remain close.
The NT has always had an evidence-based approach in dealing with the Federal Government that showed on-going skill shortages across a range of industries, particularly hospitality. We will continue with this approach, however we are aware that the bureaucrats in Canberra are holding all employers to a high degree of scrutiny if they do not hire locals, resulting in the already complex, expensive visa application getting more difficult and the chances of success reducing.
Torrens Uni – Virtual Expo
Hospitality NT often participates in career expos, as part of our Workforce Development project with the NT Government, however none of those were run in 2020.
Through the NSW branch of the AHA, we did participate in a virtual Expo for Torrens University, where we showed our Chef the NT ad, as well as other promotional material.
Short Staff Survey
Often this time of year the Association undertakes an industry-wide census to inform our submission for the year, including the NT Government’s Skilled Occupation Priority List. However, Coronavirus has impacted this, and we do not want to burden Members at this time with this.
Instead, we opened a short sharp survey that specifically sought information on recruiting efforts and staff shortages during and potential post COVID. This has informed our conversations with Government and also our ‘Chef the NT’ campaign.
CBD Hospitality Campus
Our calls for the new CDU campus in the city to include hospitality and cookery training facilities still continue and we continue to have positive conversations with the Chancellor of CDU and will begin to discuss this with the new Vice-Chancellor when a new one is appointed in 2021.
There have been some courses and staff cut from CDU, with our industry losing the Certificate I in Hospitality. We have been vocal about the separation of the ‘VET’ side of the University to the tertiary side. This is how most other jurisdictions structure their training organisations.
Territory Jobs Hub
Our Association worked with the NT Government at the height of Coronavirus to promote their online Territory Jobs Hub. The Centrelink lines were heart-breaking to see and we know many hospitality staff lost their job, when our industry was shut down.
We also worked with NT Farmers, who had (and still have) significant staff shortages for picking fruit. Any business was able to register vacancies on this site. This resource was free to use.
Lifestyle Solutions, a carer’s organisation also approached us to offer positions to any hospitality staff negatively impacted by the coronavirus shut down.
While impacted by the ‘Covid normal’, our Association continues to work with schools on career promotion. Prior to the pandemic we undertook an industry speed dating event with Casuarina Senior College. Our aim for these events is to get real hospitality employers join us to speak to prospective employees.
Again, compliance training normally forms a core part of our Association’s activities and workforce development, but with the forced shut-down and focus on dealing with the Coronavirus.
That does not downgrade the need to continue to focus on this, as we have seen over the year, several Members have been breached by the Liquor Commission for their staff’s failure to properly undertake the Banned Drinker Register process prior to each sale.
Our employment relations service proved crucial this year, with many Members accessing advice on employees throughout the year.
Once again, our Association works closely with the national AHA, AHA Branches, particularly Queensland Hotels Association’s Joanna Minchinton and her team of IR consultants.
Annual Wage Review Decision
This year the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) Expert Panel handed down a wage increase of 1.75% to all adult modern award wages and to the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
The FWC has determined that the date for increases to modern awards will be delayed for some modern awards due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2020, Registered and Licensed Clubs Award 2010 and the Restaurant Industry Award 2020 the 1.75% increase will take effect from the first full pay period commencing on or after 1 February 2021.
This delay is in recognition of the challenges facing our industry due to the pandemic.
National Minimum Wage
For those employees who are not covered by a modern award or agreement covered employees: The NMW employees will increase to $753.80 per week for a full-time employee or $19.84 per hour. The increase represents a weekly increase of $13.00 per week or 35 cents per hour to the NMW. The NMW increase will affect all employers from the first full pay period commencing on or after 1 July 2020.
New Wages Sheets
Hospitality NT will prepare its wage rates and allowances guides for the modern awards listed above, and will notify members as they are available most likely in the new year. The Wage Rate Tables we prepare are specific for our industry in the NT and are checked and approved by our IR consultants and the Fair Work Commission.
This is one of our most utilised Member service and we recommend all Members access this, as compliance by the Fair Work Ombudsman continues, with our industry targeted, and under-payments of wages a key focus.
In December 2019, the Fair Work Commission released their decision on annualised salaries, relating to the Hospitality Industry (General) Award (HIGA) and clauses 27.1 and 27.2. The Commission has determined to leave clause 27.2, the salaries absorption clause for the hotel manager classification as it is. Pleasingly, the Commission has effectively accepted the arguments of our national body, the AHA, that clause 27.2 should not be reviewed as part of their review of annualised salaries.
Fair Work Ombudsman
Hospitality NT continues to meet and engage with representatives from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) throughout the year. The AHA still operates an MOU with the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure support and facilitate compliance with the Fair Work Act from our Members.
There still remains some degree of non-compliance with the Fair Work Act in the hospitality industry, but the FWO noted that most employers do quickly rectify these matters, particularly underpayments without the FWO needing to take any further action.
Moving forward, the FWO will no longer undertake reconciliations when auditing employers (after receiving complaints from staff), and the onus will be on the employer to ensure the correct payments have been made to the employee.
As always, Hospitality NT can assist you with ensuring employees are receiving the correct wages and with staff’s pay reconciliations.
We continue to offer Members free IR advice on common issues, such as:
- JobKeeper 1 & 2
- award interpretation matters, e.g. correct classifications
- wage rate queries
- termination and performance management templates and best practice policies and procedures
- best practice contract templates for all staff including casuals
- mediation advice
- serious misconduct and procedures for dealing with this
- updating EBAs
- Casual overtime queries and rostering
- abandonment of employment and procedures for dealing with this
- stand-down pay during emergency closures and natural disasters
- and much more!
In conjunction with QHA, we continue to offer free Webinars on hot IR topics, where in the comfort of your office you can listen to experts discussing IR topics of interest to you.
There used to be a small fee attached to this, but this year we covered those costs, so that our Members can access these at any time, free of charge. Webinar topics were:
- Discrimination 101
- Hours of Work 101
- Terminations 101
- Myths about Employment Contracts
- HIGA 2020
- Myths about Social Media
- Myths about Annualised Salaries
- HIGA variations
Hospitality NT continues to participate in the National AHA meetings. Thanks to the National Executive and National Board for their support, with National CEO, Stephen Ferguson attending our end of year charity function.
Darwin was posed to host the National Awards for Excellence in August of this year, but due to Coronavirus this has been postponed.
While the main focus of the National Office has been Coronavirus, support from the Commonwealth Government including JobKeeper and JobSeeker implementation and extension and allowing for the safe re-opening of our industry, other matters dealt with by the National Office over the course of the year, including:
- Industrial Relations – especially changes during COVID
- One Music Australia
- Proposed merger with Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA)
- Tourism Infrastructure
- Draught Beer Excise
- TAB and SkyRacing
- Commercial Building Disclosure Program (energy star ratings on venues)
- ACCC Collective Bargaining Authorisation
CORPORATE PARTNERS AND EVENTS
Through the course of this extremely challenging year, Kelly Hannus has continued to work with CEO Alex Bruce, the Board and the Association’s important corporate partners, who were also heavily impacted by the closure of our industry and on-going restrictions. On behalf of the Association, we thank all our corporate partners for their continued support.
While our ability to work in partnership with our corporate partners was impacted this year, we have endeavoured to do what we can with them all, where it could be achieved.
In addition to corporate partners, Hospitality NT also has an Associate Membership level, which is a starting point for businesses looking to get involved with both the Association and industry. Many of these are small local businesses, who we thanked for their continued support, as they like all NT businesses would have been impacted by the pandemic.
Our scheduled events for 2020 were thrown a curve ball, with most scheduled for May when the NT’s hospitality industry was closed.
As soon as we were able to, we organised a tropical celebration under the stars for the 2020 Gold Plate Awards. The night was an outstanding success, with more detail on it below.
We are looking forward to next year, where we hope to deliver more events in conjunction with our corporate sponsors, benefiting Members and celebrating excellence in our industry.
2020 Gold Plate Awards
With a refreshing change in format, the 2020 Gold Plate Awards were held in August on the lawns of Darwin Waterfront. Just under 500 people from industry, as well as our corporate partners and government contacts attended.
The night was a great celebration of the hard work, sweat and tears experienced by all of our industry, whilst still delivering great service and delish food and wine.
Pre-dinner cocktails were served by Darwin bartenders under the stewardship of Anneliese Grazioli and were a refreshing way to start the night. All the food was produced by restaurants at the Waterfront, and were shared by attendees. Particular thanks goes towards David Robinson and his crew from Snapper Rocks, who looked after the bulk of the food for the night, as well as ICAE for offering their students to help staff the event.
Congratulations to all the winners, and a big congratulations to Moorish for taking out the overall ‘Restaurant of the Year’ award.
Also announced on the night, was the inaugural ‘Mango Cup’ Cocktail competition winner, which was an initiative of the NT Government through Activate Darwin – with Dom’s Bar ‘Terri-Tini’ the winner.
In September, Hospitality NT embarked on a member engagement run Darwin to Curtin Springs via Alice and back. It was good to touch base with many members we had not seen this year. Whilst 2020 travel was impacted by the circumstances of the year, we hope that in 2021 we can get out and about more to more fully engage with our important regional and remote members and stakeholders.
On return to our offices in Darwin, it was great to hear a few weeks later that our advocacy on the importance of our Wayside Inns members was listened to by the NT Government, with their budget including stimulus funding aimed at improving the offerings at these critical tourism stops. \
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2021
The Association has weathered 2020 and come through strong. Our finances are in place, our public advocacy and value add to members and industry was on display and we will seek to capitalise and build on these heading into 2021.
Indicators support a strong domestic tourist season in 2021 and we are hopeful for implementation of a vaccine and lifting of remaining restrictions towards the end of next year. Overall 2019 was a pretty poor year (with the exception of Ayres Rock climb closure and its impact) and so we remain hopeful that we can eclipse those levels and start a stronger rebuild back to a position of strength over the coming years.
Business visitors and conference delegates have been lucrative sectors for the NT but face continued disruption as a result of ‘COVID normal’. It remains to be seen the longer-term impact of less face to face business meetings as they have migrated online and whether this will flow into the demand for conferences. A counter view put to us has been that there is pent up demand for conferences and a COVID safe place in Australia stands a good chance of picking up visitors that otherwise would’ve chosen Asia or elsewhere abroad.
We have a good working relationship with both Alice Springs and Darwin Convention Centres, and know they are focussed on building their respective markets which provide flow on benefits to others in our industry.
In spite of all the significant disruption to business models that 2020 has brought, unfortunately, the first order of business that the Gunner Government sought fit to rush through Parliament, was to cherry-pick four liquor applications and by bypass all the standard processes and requirements that the rest of the industry continues to be subjected to.
We wrote to the Chief Minister Michael Gunner to express our disappointment in what appears to be an intervention designed with political outcomes rather than policy, efficacy and transparency outcomes in mind.
Many members have questioned why the double standards have been afforded when they themselves face a mountain of red tape and administrative burden.
We will continue to work with elected government representatives and the public service to improve outcomes for our members and the industry.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT & THANKS
Last December Des Crowe handed over the reins of the Hospitality NT Office, to Alex Bruce and this year has proven to be a trial by fire for Alex and the team. He remains strongly supported by the efforts and hard work of Sarah Andrews (Communications & Project Manager), Kelly Hannus (Events & Corporate Partnerships) and Leisa Marshall (Finance & Administration Officer).
Sarah welcomed a beautiful daughter Mila in May, and continued to provide guidance and support (and at time temperance of Alex) throughout the year and will be increasing her involvement progressively as we head towards 2021 and beyond.
The team has worked incredibly hard this year to assist Members and the industry in general overcome a once in one-hundred-year event and I thank them for their efforts.
Executive and Board
I wish to thank again all the present and past members of the Executive and Board, who all donate their time and energy to be proactive representatives of the Association and strong advocates of the NT’s hospitality industry to stakeholders.
Over the course of the year, in addition to Board Meetings, we have many discussions, briefings and urgent matters to address and I thank you for taking time away from your business to attend these.
Current Board Members
Paul Palmer – President
Michael Burns – Senior-Vice President
Frank Dalton – Vice President
Penny Phillips – Treasurer
Jason Hanna – Secretary
Todd Grierson (appointed 19 Nov 2020)
Matthew Hutcheon (appointed 2 Jul 2020)
Previous Board Members
Joshua Aburrow-Newman (resigned 9 March 2020)
Greg Targett (resigned 18 April 2020)
Once again, I am incredibly grateful that we have a diverse and experienced Board who will ensure the Association is in good hands moving forward into 2021.
Finally, thank you to all our Members for your continued support of the Association. In challenging times, when everything appears to be going against you, I think our Association has stood tall in delivering support and resources to help each and every Member.
I hope you have seen the value of your membership with Hospitality NT this year. We are always looking to improve in what we provide and deliver for our membership, so please contact the office with any feedback regarding this.
I’m sure everyone is looking forward to 2021 and hoping that the world stabilises, a COVID vaccine becomes readily available and things can go back to the old normal.
Paul Palmer, President, Hospitality NT