Local Betoota publican, Berrick Highsalt (36) says a lot of people are forgetting about the hospitality sector during these uncertain times.

“I mean yeah, everyone wants to clap for the nurses, but no one is thinking about the publicans” he says.

“For us, down at the Royal Commercial Hotel, it’s been pretty touch and go”

As the State Governments begin working towards a COVID-normal, life as we know it appears to be very different to what we knew 6 months ago.

For Berrick, this means a 31% drop in business.

“But yeah, If we didn’t have the machines out the back, I could be in real trouble. Like cafe trouble”

As Berrick points out, his gaming revenue is of interest to no one except the state government, and even though he’s experiencing a 3500% increase in takings on the reverse ATMs, that doesn’t mean he’s not eligible for JobKeeper.

“People don’t get it though. Like yeah, pokies are up, but the pub itself has experienced a 31% drop in business”

“Did you hear that, I’m selling 31% less shnitzels and steak specials than I did over Christmas”

Berrick goes on to explain how this whole JobKeeper thing works in the pub game. It’s not just the lukewarm counter meals that are down. He’s also selling 31% less chipped schooner glasses full of cream coloured Coopers.

And that is all Josh Frydenberg is looking at. Not the hundreds of thousands in furloughed worker payments that go through his machines each week.

“Obviously, these numbers only apply the bar and kitchen” says Berrick, as he drinks champagne that actually comes comes from the Champagne region in his Betoota Grove hot tub.

“The bottle shop and the gaming room are ripping. But that comes with its own costs. Now I’ve gotta make an order with Lion Nathan every week instead of every month”

“And then you’ve got the complimentary party pies and lamingtons in the VIP room”

“I tell you what, mate, pretty scary time to be a publican.”


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