The Australian Hotels Association (NSW), the powerful publicans’ lobby group which is responsible for keeping the state Labor Party flush with funds, is undergoing a seismic changing of the guard.

Long-serving chief executive Brian Ross, 68, is stepping down this week. His successor, who starts next Monday, is a female – the first in the AHA’s history. She is 34-year-old (half Ross’s age) Sally Fielke, a solicitor and former CEO of the Northern Territory AHA.