The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RACING -

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.

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