An Australian Hotels Association chief has used a glittering industry awards night to mount a scathing attack on WA’s state opposition.
WA chief executive Bradley Woods used his Monday night speech in front of the 900-strong crowd at the AHA Hotel Awards for Excellence in Perth to criticise the state Liberal Party and its leader Mike Nahan.
Guests were reportedly shocked by the very public rebuke, as Mr Woods accused the opposition party of talking down the state’s tourism industry.
His speech outlined how negative comments from Dr Nahan and the WA opposition did not help attract visitors to the state and he argued all sides of politics should use positive language to enhance its tourism appeal.
Dr Nahan was among the VIPs at the event and it is reported a heated 30-minute discussion ensued between the pair outside the Crown Perth venue following Woods’ speech.
Other Liberal MPs at the event including Dean Nalder, Peter Collier, Sean L’Estrange and Peter Katsambanis.
Mr Nahan has since brushed aside the spat, saying the Liberal party would not be dictated to by a powerful lobby group.
“Mr Woods was very effusive in his praise of Labor and critical of us,” he told Fairfax media.
“The Liberal party will not buckle to a powerful lobby group aligned to the Labor party.
“He made some very strong criticisms about us holding the government to account for criticising the government’s policy on tourism, I stand by those criticisms.
“The government has not done well on tourism.”
Tourism Research Australia shows WA to be the only state experiencing a decline in international visitors, with a two percent drop in overseas tourists in the 12 months to June 2018 compared with the previous year.
“Bradley Woods represents a wide range of businesses big and small, but I tell you what, we represent our electorates and the broader community and I can assure you, they want better policies on tourism out of the McGowan Government,” said Dr Nahan.
Mr Woods defended his stance and refuted allegations the AHA is influenced by lobby groups, describing it as independent of any political stance.
“Negative political comments from any political party about the tourism and hospitality industry have significant implications on confidence in the sector and the way the investment community assesses risk,” he told Fairfax.
“I accept that I am a strong advocate for my industry and sometimes may come across forcefully, especially in a room of nearly 1000 excited people.
“The hospitality sector is doing it tough and doesn’t benefit from being used as a political football.”