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In the last week we reported that Airbnb had previously been paying someone to act as a so-called Chief Ethics Officer – however he has quit the organisation. It now transpires that Airbnb’s Vice President of Trust, in charge of fraud prevention plus offline behaviour like deadly parties and human trafficking is also exiting. This latest departure follows a string of other senior executives fleeing the stinking ship, including Australians Brent Thomas“trying to blame Airbnb for housing unaffordability (is) misleading” – and Sam McDonagh – Australia is Airbnb’s “most penetrated market in the world”. Consider that over the next three weeks, Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s Airbnb calendar currently shows his property rented for 13 nights…at $1,850/night – that’s an extra $24,050 gross income, over and above his (2019) Parliamentary earnings of $343,460 (excluding Electoral Allowances of course). Opposition Leader Jodi McKay’s Airbnb is set to return a mere $2,915 over the same period; fear not, her total $309,621 plus Electoral Allowances should see her cope. If one needs further proof of how truly deep is our State Government’s collusion with Airbnb, Stayz, ASTRA, do cast your eyes over this ‘case study’ produced by NSW Department of Industry, showcasing Airbnb employees and corporate messaging: “The Future of Airbnb Made in Sydney”. NSW Taxpayers have paid for this document, which is nothing less than a government-funded promo for Airbnb. Plus, given State Government DestinationNSW’s failure to disclose its collaboration with Airbnb during a parliamentary inquiry, is this case studyanother gross example of our Government’s full-on collusion with foreign owned booking platforms?

Yesterday marked one year since NSW Planning, Industry and Environment called for feedback on its radical plan to make short-term rental accommodation ‘exempt’ and ‘complying development’ in every one of our State’s homes. Well noted: the Department of Planning has failed to publish the submissions received, including those from NSW Fire & Rescue and documents quoting NSW case law, Coroners’ reports, etc. As a distraction NSW Fair Trading has suggested that those in Strata try implementing a by-law, limiting a handful of Airbnbs. What isn’t divulged is that this tactic effectively undermines residents’ property rights, plus sets up “conundrums” rendering such by-laws unenforceable. There has also been no attempt to ‘trigger’ Fair Trading’s quasi ‘Code of Conduct’. Legal opinion has it that a Commissioner of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) may only accept a complaint if the NCAT has already made orders for a financial penalty for the contravention of a by-law…if an Owners Corporation has managed to implement such a by-law. Consider also, even if an Owners Corporation were to obtain an NCAT order, the Draft Code states that the Commission can only take action against a short-term rental landlord if NCAT is satisfied that it is necessary to protect the public or the Code’s integrity. Confused? That’s possibly the State Government’s intention. Something else missing from all NSW Government media and legislation is…the NSW Supreme Court case of Raciti v Hughes. Anyone lodging a complaint under Fair Trading’s Code of Conduct may well see themselves facing a charge of ‘Nuisance’.

Do we have Members of Parliament, Local Government Authorities and Public Servants who naively fail to understand what is at stake in terms of the destructiveness of Airbnb and its ilk? In terms of governance and profits, are we seeing a situation where ethics, truth and the rights of Residents account for nothing; is NSW rotten to the core?

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