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Airbnb recently sold common stock at a US$35 billion valuation. On 05 June 2019, Airbnb visited NSW Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres in his parliamentary office. Ten days later Airbnb announced a Country Pub competition, “run in partnership with the NSW government” across all States including Tasmania, where residents are under severe housing stress. Minister Ayres joined Airbnb’s Brent Thomas in launching the project in Airbnb’s “most penetrated market in the world” (The Australian, 02/06/16). Cancer sufferers are amongst Airbnb’s ‘winners’. Brilliant marketing, given the competition has for a mere $250k in prize money, bought Airbnb free national media coverage with the likes of the ABC and many, many others. Did Minister Ayres contribute NSW taxpayers’ funds towards the cash distributed?

In March this year the Australian Hotel Association slammed Airbnb’s “sham” tactics. The AHA has been muted by this latest tactic fronted by our Minister for Tourism. The Australian Financial Review’s John Davidson took up the cause:

“If you want to be a successful parasite, you should be careful not to kill your host too quickly… The irony won't be lost on publicans. By helping residents in and around these towns rent out their own homes to tourists, in competition with the very hotels it's promising to renovate, Airbnb has contributed to the decline that it's now bemoaning. The Country Pub Project, in effect, amounts to this: if you can't beat us, join us!”

One inner-city B&B now has 300+ Airbnb listings in their suburb. Such commercial operations are an “Illegal Use of Premises”. A Surry Hills-based Airbnb recruit is knocking on doors of accredited accommodation providers and handing out free key rings as an incentive to “onboard” and join the thousands of illegal landlords on its platform.

The Property & Financial Group (PICA) is offering a FREE guide to “becoming an Airbnb host”, claiming it is “Enhancing Community Living”. PICA’s ‘sponsored’ Facebook promo is guaranteed to make those whose residential buildings and streets have been penetrated by Airbnb splutter over their Sunday morning coffee.

Australian Short-Term Rental Accommodation (ASTRA) association board member Joan Bird writes on social media that Airbnb-type rentals are “use of residential property, and not ‘commercial’ as such in nature”. (This opinion would differ to those of judges in our Land and Environment Court.) In their efforts to fight other neighbouring residential apartment owners who have managed to register a by-law prohibiting Airbnb activity, Ms Bird volunteers that landlords should seek legal advice from a Law firm around the corner from State Parliamentary chair of the short-term rental inquiry, Mark Coure MP’s Mortdale office.

In a plea to journalists to differentiate between law-abiding small business owners and illegal short-term rental operators, one US-based B&B host has penned a heartfelt letter, concluding:

“Please, dear Journalists, read up on the difference between an Airbnb and a REAL B&B, talk to some Airbnbs and REAL B&Bs and educate yourself on the difference so you can help educate others, look into some of the state and regional B&B associations many of which have inspection and other standards for their members, confusing the masses is quite frankly not helping anyone and it’s certainly not helping innkeepers who can actually claim the title of innkeeper legally.”

Please Premier Berejiklian, exactly what are the terms of all NSW Government commercial ‘partnerships’ – Destination NSW and National Parks NSW included - with Airbnb, Expedia/Stayz and other online Travel Agents? At stake are our proprietary rights, our homes and the livelihoods of small business people.

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