MINISTER HAD TO RESIGN AFTER ARGUING AGAINST TOUGHER RESTRICTIONS ON HOLIDAY RENTALS…
Following a $1,000 fine for a breach of coronavirus public health order, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian “had stood by her Minister” Don Harwin however, “several senior government sources said Mr Harwin had to resign after it also emerged he had argued against tougher restrictions on holiday rentals and regional travel”. And given Don Harwin’s $515 per night holiday rental(*), this must surely be yet another example of a NSW State MP’s conflict of interests on what is a highly volatile legal issue?
Deputy Premier John Barilaro is quoted by the ABC as saying he was “bloody angry” with Mr Harwin’s conduct: “Politicians aren’t exempt...and what Don Harwin has done over the last couple of weeks is unacceptable…In the public eye, it looks like politicians believe they’re above the rules and above the law and we’re not.”
In yesterday’s Byron Bay Echo, Doug Luke, Coordinator, VOHL, notes that John Barilaro and NSW Labor Opposition leader Jodi McKay each made media releases just before the public health order was imposed, “imploring people not to travel to regional areas to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Both politicians have holiday lets in regional NSW that are in my opinion illegal. It is extremely hypocritical of these politicians that they still have their holiday lets available on Airbnb for short term renting as of last Wednesday”.
Indeed, Jodi McKay’s Airbnb calendar for her Kia Ora Lookout Retreat still has the property available for bookings this weekend. Dates are then blocked for the rest of April/May/June.
Deputy Premier Barilaro’s Dungowan Estate has/had bookings for the Easter weekend – hopefully cancelled – plus the June long weekend. All other dates are currently available. A request through Barilaro’s Airbnb listing for a three-night booking for next weekend, 24-26 April, shows availability for 16 guests at a total of $7,047.30, or $6,934.70 for 20 guests if booked via the Stayz booking platform.
A website that contains property sales information provided under licence from the NSW Department of Finance and Services, lists the Deputy Premier’s Oallen property as a “Residence” – not a hotel. And for any potential ‘Lease Purposes’, again it is a “Residence”. In December 2018 and October 2019, the Deputy Premier was asked to clarify the status of his Dungowan Estate, specifically whether or not it meets Australian Building Codes for commercial rentals and use as a wedding venue. No response was forthcoming.
In the UK the BBC is reporting that Airbnb has finally answered its critics by blocking all holiday lets, except for key workers and “essential stays”. Given the examples of John Barilaro and Jodi McKay’s Airbnb listings, no such measures are in force here.
Neighbours Not Strangers again seeks the NSW Premier’s assistance in immediately banning short-term rentals in all Class 1(a) and Class 2 residential dwellings.
* Gosford Local Environmental Plan 2014 -
Part 3 Exempt and complying development
(3) To be exempt development, the development:
(a) must meet the relevant deemed-to-satisfy provisions of the Building Code of Australia or, if there are no such relevant provisions, must be structurally adequate, and
(b) must not, if it relates to an existing building, cause the building to contravene the Building Code of Australia...
3.2 Complying development
(3) To be complying development, the development must:
(a) be permissible, with development consent, in the zone in which it is carried out, and
(b) meet the relevant deemed-to-satisfy provisions of the Building Code of Australia...
Dobrohotoff v Bennic - NSW Caselaw