ANOTHER DAY SEES MORE NSW STATE MPs PROFITEERING FROM AIRBNB RENTALS
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced yesterday: “We are determined to help more people in NSW realise their dream of home ownership. One element of our broader housing package will see first home buyers who are key workers, single parents or older singles, given the option to enter into a shared equity scheme trial. The NSW Government would contribute an equity share up to 40 per cent for a new property. This will help overcome the deposit barrier of home ownership and reduce the size of the mortgage and its repayments. It’s another step we are taking to ensure that every person in NSW has a place to call home.” Alongside the Premier were NSW Treasurer Matt Kean and Minister for Housing and Homelessness Anthony Roberts. You can watch the self-congratulations HERE.
Ministers Kean and Roberts authored the 2017 Government Report that stated: “In 2014, there were an estimated 216,000 STHL (short-term holiday letting) premises in NSW/ACT.”
On 22 June last year, Speaker in the NSW Legislative Assembly, the Hon Jonathan O’Dea MP welcomed visitors: “I also welcome my guests…the country manager of Airbnb, Susan Wheeldon. I thank guests for joining us for lunch today and for providing feedback as Parliament aims to better engage with stakeholders.” Representatives from resident action groups campaigning against the impacts on housing by the likes of Airbnb are denied meetings with Ministers, let alone their ‘company’ over lunch in Parliament’s dining room.
On 17 October 2022 NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay announced her resignation from parliament; Chris Minns succeeded her. Three days later (20 October), Premier Perrottet goaded the new Opposition Leader in Parliament:
“There are many aspects to the economy recovery plan. The number one aspect is the $50 Stay & Rediscover accommodation voucher for every person right across the State. We are piloting it this year, and it will commence in the shoulder season in March next year through Service NSW. We know how successful Dine & Discover has been, and we know how much the Labor members have been using that program. They love the vouchers. They oppose it here in the House, and then they go out and spend on Service NSW any chance they get. I know the Leader of the Opposition will be out there as well, spending his accommodation voucher. I do not think he will go to Jodi's Airbnb, or be invited; he might go to Barra's instead. He would have to actually finish the phone call to be able to get to that point.”
The Premier’s reference to ‘Jodi’s Airbnb’ is either Jodi McKay’s Kia Ora Lookout Retreat ($1,143.75 for min 2-night stay) or her Luxuriously converted church near Barrington Tops ($681.62 for min 2-night stay). And, ‘Barra’s instead’ is former Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s $5 million Airbnb Dungowan Estate ($5,372.12 for min 2-night stay).
Dominic Perrottet would know of Minns’ connection with former Airbnb Director of Public Policy Brent Thomas; Minns thanked Thomas in his inaugural speech to Parliament. The Australian newspaper (15/06/17) also linked Thomas with Chris Minns’ wife and James Zhou. Their ‘NoBorders’ operations (Brent Thomas, Director) raised questions: “NSW Labor rising star’s wife, pro-Beijing staffer in China venture.” The connection between James Zhou and Xiangmo Huang was also made. Mr Huang’s Australian visa was subsequently ‘stripped’, with his and others’ dealings forming part of an investigation at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
State Labor MP for the South Coast seat of Keira, the Hon Ryan Park MP, is yet to confirm that his investment property at 6/6 Banjo Drive Thredbo (estimated value $900,000-$1,000,000) is indeed this Airbnb – Banjo 6 Townhouse ($949,00 for min 2-night stay). Up until June 2021, Park was the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness; he is quoted in the Bega District News: “New developments including Airbnb have reduced the rental market at a time when demand for affordable and social housing is growing.”
State Labor MP for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen MP, declares two properties apart from her primary place of residence. One house - 31 Barellan Crescent Caves Beach (estimated value $1.53 million-$2.07 million) is listed on Airbnb – Caves Beach House ($1,501.88 for min 2-night stay). Ms Haylen and husband Garth Williams “joined Airbnb in June 2011”. The Haylen/Williams Airbnb is in the Lake Macquarie City Council. In this and other surrounding Local Government Areas there are currently 6,782 Active Airbnb rentals. As Shadow Minister for Seniors, Jo Haylen has stood alongside others speaking at older women’s homelessness forums. She also “notes that youth homelessness continues to be a critical issue in New South Wales”.
A US blog from January 2022 gives some startling figures on the impacts of Airbnb. It might help if the leaders of our State and Federal political parties would ask all MPs to declare their connections with and profits from the short-term rental of residential housing. It is only by way of scraping well-disguised details that a picture begins to appear. There are still several MPs who declare ownership of apartments in a building close to NSW Parliament House which is rife with Airbnb listings.
State Labor’s Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Rose Jackson MP, made an impassioned speech in the Legislative Council – see HERE. Or read the Hansard transcript HERE.
“That is the reality for many people in regional New South Wales: Their landlord evicts them halfway through a lease. They have not done anything wrong. They have paid their rent on time. And then, next week, the property is back on the market for $200 more or is listed on Airbnb…This should not be a State characterised by citizens desperately trying to crowdsource a place to live in a local buy, swap or sell Facebook page because the Government has let them down so badly, but that is the reality in regional New South Wales right now.”
Jackson’s plea came as Rob Stokes used ministerial discretion to change legislation, making the commercial short-term rental of residential dwellings ‘exempt’ and/or ‘complying development’ state-wide. Again, Jackson spoke at length (10/11/21) about tenants being forced out of housing so that homes could be listed over the Christmas holiday period as Airbnb rentals. One wonders if Rose Jackson knows how many of her parliamentary colleagues are profiteering from the commercial short-term rental of homes that could otherwise be housing families.
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NSW Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts MP, must immediately rescind Rob Stokes’ (Affordable Rental Housing) (Short-term Rental Accommodation) 2021 (SEPP).
Local Councils must be mandated to enforce residential planning, zoning, or approval to prevent short-term commercial letting of housing. The proliferation of these properties is a huge problem for housing affordability and availability, for the living conditions of neighbouring residents and for legitimate tourism accommodation providers.
The NSW Government must refer Airbnb, DestinationNSW and other online platforms to the ACCC, when and where the platform/s are aiding and abetting the “Illegal Use of Residential Dwellings”.