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Under oath, before the Victorian Parliament, Michelle Chaing, US-based Public Policy Representative for Expedia/HomeAway/Stayz advised: “We have tons of terms and conditions that (clients) should most likely be reading through...” Truth be told, for someone who was flown from the US to attend Parliament and represent an Organisation worth US$10 billion+ in revenue, Ms Chaing’s testimony was fairly incoherent.

Ms Chaing confirmed she had visited NSW Local Council representatives in the Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla and theBega Valley, and then had other Local Councils scheduled. We know that Ms Chaing was accompanied by a representative of Barton Deakin, a government relations firm founded by former NSW Liberal Leader Peter Collins. Barton Deakin is the registered lobbyist for Expedia. And in terms of holiday rentals, Expedia has partnered with the NSW Government to offer homes as tourist accommodation on the DestinationNSW platform amongst others.

Reporters for the South Coast Register were surprised to learn this week that the Shoalhaven surpasses Byron Shire in terms of Airbnb listings. ABC southeast NSW reporters, very aware of the difficulties tenants are facing in their region, were keen to receive data. Yesterday, during an ABC radio interview, Simon Lauder was also intrigued by news that their local State Member – Deputy Premier/Minister for Small Business John Barilaro – had his $5 million property Dungowan Estate short-term let on multiple platforms. And thanks to figures supplied by Inside Airbnb, we were able to advise that in the two years to December 2018, Bega’s Airbnb listings had climbed 204%, Eurobodalla up 286%, and the Snowy River Region up 620%.

In Regional NSW, Airbnb is the ‘new kid on the block’. Until recently, the greatest loss of housing was due to Expedia’s HomeAway/Stayz landlords. Other big players are licensed agents and others who often have no homes available for residential tenancies yet advertise 24, 49, 63, 67, 68, 450, 1,084 and more homes for short-term tourists/visitors rentals.

In terms of loss of housing stock, residential amenity and community cohesion, NSW Planning and Housing Minister Anthony Roberts believes the Byron Bay Shire is “exceptional”. He is mistaken. The Department of Planning and the Environment is again “considering feedback”, while the Minister makes regional doorstop announcements on Zoning.

And Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall has our homes firmly in his sights.

In Western Australia they are calling out: “Get this beast under control.” Byron’s accredited accommodation providers are demanding that Ministers level the playing field in terms of illegal, non-compliant short-term rentals.

The unlawful use of our residential dwellings and breaches of Federal Building Codes are endemic. Airbnb in turn recommends that clients travel with carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Airbnb’s website says they run ‘safety workshops’ while its Terms and Conditions say:

“Airbnb has no control over and does not guarantee the existence, quality, safety, suitability, or legality of any Listings or Host Services.”

Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits

Neighbours not Strangers

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