For two decades Stephen Ferguson was one of the most powerful figures in Australian racing and wagering, starting out as a steward before joining Racing NSW, then taking charge of the Queensland Turf Club and Brisbane Racing Club.
In 2014 he leapt to the other side of the bar as national chief executive of the hugely influential Australian Hotels Association, representing Australia’s 5000 hoteliers, publicans and suppliers.
Ferguson has continued the AHA’s tradition of extravagant generosity, hosting politicians from across the spectrum as well as business leaders at a series of spectacular parties including an annual Melbourne Cup shindig.
With firm policy positions across the economic landscape from weekend penalty rates to gaming laws, the AHA spends tens of thousands on donations and lobbying each year, giving broadly to the Liberals,Labor, Nationals, Queensland LNP, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, Katter’s Australia Party and the Australian Conservatives.
It also give alcohol or gifts to a broad range of individual MPs, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison who received four tickets to Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation’ concert from the AHA in November 2018.