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We're Agoda/Expedia/Airbnb - We Want Your Homes

US$17.5 billion Singapore-based AGODA also wants IN on big profits from our homes. They’re offering a FREE service to NSW landlords – undoubtedly designed to undercut Airbnb, Expedia et al.

At Parliament House, on 30 May last year, Holiday Letting Industry representatives including Stayz/Expedia had an impromptu chat with the Shoalhaven’s Strategic Planning Manager. An example was volunteered on how a small change to Local Environmental Plans could facilitate commercial short-term letting of residential homes right across NSW. Details of this conversation were relayed to the Manager of the Short-Term Letting Inquiry. The Shoalhaven’s Staffer writes that he doesn’t recall the conversation or exchange of business cards.

On 20 March 2017, Expedia’s US-based Public Policy and Stakeholder Engagement Specialist, and the Policy and Business Analyst at Barton Deakon Government Relations, travelled to Nowra and met with Council representatives. Barton Deakon is headed by former NSW Liberal Party and Deputy Opposition Leader Peter Collins. In some suburbs of the Shoalhaven, 70-80% of homes are holiday lets of some description.

The ABC’s Background Briefing reports on Nowra’s fight against its homeless and their tent shantytown at the local showground. Marry this with the level of holiday letting in the area and ask if there’s any connection.

The SMH’s Sean Nicholls writes today of Deputy Premier John Barillaro’s profiting from Airbnb/Expedia. Also referenced/connected is the ICAC’s forced back down over its inquiry into Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen.

NSW Deputy Parliamentary Speaker, Thomas George, former State MP John Williams, and ClaytonUtz Partner Garry Best profited directly from, promoted and protected a short-term letting operation - which the City of Sydney classified as an “Illegal Use of Premises” - in a Bridge Street residential building. One could estimate the operation grossed some $5 million annually. Land and Environment Court Orders put a temporary halt only to this activity. Legal Counsel for the Department of Premier and Cabinet referred the issue to the ICAC, just at the time of the review into Margaret Cunneen. The ICAC being required by legislation to focus on matters involving serious or systemic corrupt conduct took the decision not to investigate. When the cohort’s attempts to have ClaytonUtz litigate against their co-Owner - who had called into question the hellish in-house living conditions due to short-term lets plus the legality of their activities - hit a wall, they set about at an Owners Corporation level to initiate Court action against plus extract $200,000+Legal Fees from said Owner.

Judging from the recommendations made in the Report to Parliament, some State MPs appear totally seduced by Airbnb’s marketing spin and enamoured at the money to be earned by replacing Tenants with Tourists/Visitors. Be in no doubt: what is at stake is the quality of our home lives and control over profits from housing.

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