Industry veteran Neil Randall has tasted the stench of politics in response to an event by One Nation at his Paddington Ale House.
Billed as an electioneering promo, with Pauline Hanson set to shout free pizza and a beer for the first 100 entrants, the One Nation roadshow trod the boards of the Paddo on Thursday night.
But not everyone was happy to see the divisive polly and her party, and about forty people picketed outside, waving placards and shouting slogans against the One Nation policies, seen as racist and intolerant.
The protestors were kept at bay by around 20 police and four times the regular security, pre-arranged by Randall and the pub to manage any potential trouble.
“I don’t support her policies, but I run a business and this is a public house,” Randall explained to PubTIC.
“The event brought 500 people in to Mount Hawthorn – I thought it was a good attraction for the area.
“But it was nasty, and the staff were really affected. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve seen in 35 years of hospitality, and took me to a new level of thinking just how dirty politics can be.”
This is not the first politics-based event Randall has held at The Paddo, previously hosting a ‘Drinks with Julie (Bishop)’ night prior to the last Federal election. It did not meet with the same overwhelming hostility.
Senator Hanson has spent a week in Western Australia in the lead-up to the WA State Election on Saturday. The party’s isolationist rhetoric has seen vehement protesters in a number of locations visited by the controversial Queenslander.
Despite reports that some violence occurred and punches were thrown, no-one was arrested and WA police report that on the whole the protest was without incident.
The pub’s Facebook page did not fare as well, plastered with vocal accusations and threats to boycott. “I’d rather eat bile than Paddo food tainted by your support of racism, bigotry and darn right stupidity,” said one.
Randall remains pragmatic about the exercise, and reports he doesn’t regret agreeing to the function, despite the largely negative national publicity.
“We have 20,000 followers on Facebook, and although the pledges to not return are disappointing, at the end of the day as far as we’re concerned it’s all promoting The Paddo.”
Randall is the President of the WA branch of the AHA, and a stalwart of the pub industry. He has previously posited about the challenging conditions in Perth, the world’s most remote capital city, and is unashamed of doing what must be done to stay in business.
“Hospitality here in Perth is unique, and the explosion of small bars and the proliferation of new and refurbished hotels make it a very competitive market.”