The AHA is now the principal body representing most of Australia’s 6,000 hotels, which employ 300,000 workers and continues to be registered as an industrial organisation for employers.
The Association has its roots in Tasmania. The Society of the Licensed Victuallers of Van Diemen’s Land was formed in April 1839 and this year celebrates its 175th anniversary.
This historic event took place at a meeting held in the White Horse Tavern, which occupied a site on the corner of Liverpool and Elizabeth Streets in Hobart.
In 1856, 17 years after the movement was inaugurated in Hobart, a Licensed Victuallers Association was formed in Launceston. Although known as the United Licensed Victuallers Association, the two remained independent until they amalgamated in 1959 to form the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Hotels Association.
This gives Tasmania the honour of producing probably the oldest employer organisation in Australia.
Victoria followed Tasmaina’s lead in 1850 when hoteliers in Melbourne established the Licensed Victuallers Society of Port Phillip. The Society functioned until 1904 when “differences of opinion and petty variances” gave rise to a breakaway group which styled itself the Victorian Hoteliers Association. The two remained divided until 1916 when they merged under the title of the Licensed Victuallers Association.
South Australia formed a Licensed Victuallers Association in 1871 and likewise New South Wales in 1873. In 1885 the Queensland United Licensed Victuallers Association was formed.
In Western Australia the United Licensed Victuallers Association was formed in 1898, after years of regional based associations interested in local issues.
The first national body, the United Licensed Victuallers Association of the Commonwealth of Australia was set up shortly after the new federation pursuant to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1911 and an organisation of Employers in connexion with the Hotelkeeping and vending of wines and spirits. Mr Pat Flanagan of South Australia served as the inugural National President.
In 1959 the ULVA Federal Committee of Management decided to change the name of the organisation to the Australian Hotels Asssociation. This was influenced by several factors, not least of which was the fact that by this time the term “victualling” had become associated almost entirely with the provisioning of shipd.
The Nothern Territory Branch of the AHA was formed in 1991, before which members had been serviced by the South Australian Branch. In 1994 the Australian Capital Territory Branch was formed. Intil this point AHA memebrs in the ACT were part of the NSW Branch.