IS THE US$31-BILLION AIRBNB DICTATING LEGISLATION?
Yesterday, 100 days out for the NSW State Election, the Daily Telegraph forewarned that the off-shore booking platform, Airbnb, will today be sending “an email to thousands of its members discouraging them from voting for Labor in the upcoming state election”, claiming that Labor’s plans for a mandatory regulation scheme on short-term rentals is “backing the ‘big end of town’”.
In May 2016, in the corridors of the NSW Parliament House, a NSW Local Government Administrator told Executives and Legal Counsel for Expedia/HomeAway/Stayz, all they need do is lobby to change Planning Legislation, making short-term rentals ‘exempt and complying development’. This is exactly what his and other NSW Councils – Gosford and Kiama among them – had done after the landmark NSW Land and Environment Court judgment of Dobrohotoff v Bennic  NSWLEC 61. That indeed is what the present NSW State Government is in the process of doing.
So very pleased was Airbnb’s Chris Lehane with what is proposed for NSW, he flew to Australia for the Government’s announcement. When asked by the ABC if he would be happy if the NSW ‘rules and regulations’ went global, Lehane responded with a resounding: “Yes!” Airbnb went on to run full-page advertisements, using what looked like a pirated NSW Government promo, declaring: “New State of Welcome.” Sam McDonagh from Airbnb told Channel 9: “Airbnb would continue to work with (the NSW) Government in a positive way so that they get the right outcome.”
According to the NSW Government: “In 2014, there were an estimated 216,000 STHL premises in NSW/ACT.” Since 2014 Airbnb listings have exploded. No current figures on homes lost to short-term rentals are available.
While accusing Labor of ‘backing the big end of town’, Airbnb aids in crushing accredited small business owners who comply with Federal, State and Local Government legislation and contribute by way of paying commercial rates and taxes on every facet of their operations. And Airbnb cares not-a-jot for the rights of individuals and families who have purchased homes clearly zoned Residential nor does it acknowledge current legislation and our NSW case law. All the while, Airbnb shifts profits offshore to its Irish tax haven.
So dire is the situation, accredited NSW small business owners are being denied extra funding by Banks. Quote:
“Bank: “You have not been able to show any growth in your business over the past three years. You need to put your nightly rates up. Application for finance declined.”
Business Operator: There is no level playing field with the unregulated properties illegally trading as 'pseudo hotels' as they do not have the overheads a legitimate business has. We bought an existing approved business and expected that we would be able to sell it in good faith having all the permits attached but recently lost the buyer to another agent that sold him a property that is completely unregulated, returning almost as much as our approved business for substantially less money - an illegal pop up hotel. We need to remain completely anonymous as we do have a purchaser in the wind and don’t want to scare him off...”
Meanwhile, Amazing Accom will help non-complying short-term rental landlords “reach more than 218 million guests”, tapping into Booking.com, Airbnb, HomeAway, Expedia, plus more than 30+ additional ‘distribution partners’. Wonder if our Government’s DestnationNSW is amongst the ‘distribution partners’?
Why is the Berejiklian Government doing their damndest to meet all of Airbnb and Expedia’s demands? Political parties, were they to follow International Media threads, would be well aware that Airbnb has a history of launching ferocious campaigns running into the $millions against regulators who use legislation to reign in the Company’s illegal operations. On the other hand, Airbnb finds creative ways to handsomely reward subservient legislators. This foreign Corporation now seems to be seeking to dictate Government policy here in NSW.
While these complying small business owners are slowly but surely going bankrupt, Ben Franklin, the LNP’s candidate for the northern NSW State seat of Ballina is telling them “not to get aggressive”.
As someone recently said of what is often referred to as the ‘Airbnb Contagion’:
“Airbnb, pay your taxes, comply with legislation and stop dictating to us,
and SHUT UP!”
Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits
Neighbours not Strangers