STAY AT HOME! OR, AIRBNB ‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’ FOR NSW MPs?
NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals Leader John Barilaro MP has issued a plea: “We need to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 and that includes avoiding non-essential travel. A number of residents within the Monaro have contacted me to say people are ignoring the advice and still holidaying in our towns including Jindabyne and Thredbo. This tough time is not an opportunity for a holiday, or an opportunity to work remotely from a holiday destination. I understand this is extremely tough on businesses, but the health of our community needs to come first. Everybody needs to take this seriously.”
The Beagle Weekly is reporting a media release today from the Federal Member for Gilmore on the South Coast, Labor’s Fiona Phillips: "Only a few weeks ago, local people were crying out for the tourists to return to the South Coast after the devastating impact of the fires, but that call has once again been reversed as concerns over the spread of COVID-19 mount.
This also means anyone who owns a holiday home and is planning to self-isolate away from their usual place of residence should simply stay put. Our community has been through so much over the last few months and I know it comes as a cruel blow to again be sending tourists away so soon.
But I cannot say this in strong enough terms – all tourists, holiday makers and other would-be travellers who do not normally call the South Coast home must stay away this Easter. We need to make sure the health and wellbeing of our community comes first and while I would like to see harder and faster restrictions put in place to formally stop this, we all need to play our role in limiting exposure for ourselves and for others...”
In another Facebook post, State Labor Leader Jodi McKay MP writes: “Rural and regional NSW is being affected by COVID-19. These areas often have vulnerable elderly populations and limited hospital capacity. So I’m urging people in Sydney to stay home. This is not a time for day trips or a planned Easter weekend away.”
All well and good and absolutely the advice for times such as these. Why then are John Barilaro’s Dungowan Estate and Jodi McKay’s Kia Ora Lookout Retreat still listed on Airbnb and other platforms and by all indications accepting bookings? So too seemingly is Federal Liberal MP John Alexander at his Iona Park highlands estate.
Airbnb has released Cleaning guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19: “From disinfecting to stocking the right supplies, here’s what you need to know.” None of these guidelines would appear to meet Federal Accommodation food services industry legislation. Do the Airbnb properties listed by MPs meet all ‘Risk Management’ protocols? At the same time, Airbnb’s Terms of Service for Australia clearly state: “Airbnb has no control over and does not guarantee (i) the existence, quality, safety, suitability, or legality of any Listings or Host Services, (ii) the truth or accuracy of any Listing descriptions… or, (iii) the performance or conduct of any Member or third party.” In fact, there are some 20 or so separate items in Airbnb’s Terms of Service which it “does not guarantee”.
No NSW Resident want short-term tourist/visitor rentals operating in their Residential strata buildings or Residential neighbourhood. We have repeatedly quoted NSW Land and Environment Court case law judgments on this issue and now, MPs – Federal and State – are calling for a cessation of such activity.
Our Media Releases are sent to all Members of the NSW State Parliament together with many NSW Councillors. When will they respond? When will they react? When will they ban short-term rentals?
Airbnb and Stayz must be banned from operating in buildings and zones where their practices are an “Illegal Use of Premises” plus, under current conditions, where such penetration is potentially risking the lives of this in NSW communities.