FEDERAL & STATE MINISTERS MEET TO DISCUSS HOUSING CRISIS -How Many ‘Elephants In The Room’?
Today’s Guardian Australia reports: “Uber understood it was operating illegally when it launched in Australia and fiercely lobbied governments to legalise its lucrative Australian operations…Uber’s ultimate success in Australia had a devastating effect on holders of taxi licences, and “presents a serious case study of regulatory failure”, according to Michael Donnelly, a principal lawyer at law firm Maurice Blackburn, who is running a class action lawsuit against Uber on behalf of Licensed taxi operators.”
On 30 May 2016, during a Parliamentary Inquiry into the ‘Adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting in New South Wales’, Gordon Clark, Strategic Planning Manager, Shoalhaven City Council, in sworn testimony said: “We do not want to regulate the 4,000-plus holiday homes…If you look at places like Hyams Beach, Callala and further south, they can have anywhere up to 70 to 80 per cent of their dwellings vacant during winter. That gives you an indication that they are holiday homes of some description." This followed a sworn statement by Don Kobeleff, President, Holiday Letting Organisation Central Coast: “The Land and Environment Court case in 2013 in which the court ruled short-term holiday letting illegal…” Jamie Parker MP did suggest that the secretariat “could check” the legal status where development consent specifically excluded short-term accommodation. (We later received advice from the Manager of the Inquiry that no legal advice whatsoever was sought or considered by the MPs on the Inquiry.) During a break, a senior representative from Stayz/Expedia, and Trevor Atherton, Director/Chair Regulations and Government Relations Committee, Holiday Rental Industry Association (HRIA) received advice in the corridors that they should lobby the State Government to alter the State Environmental Planning Policy [SEPP], facilitating short-term rental accommodation in all Residential Zones across the State. Invitations to meet were offered by the Local Government administrator.
In sworn testimony before the Victorian Parliament, on 24 March 2017, Trevor Atherton acknowledged that short-term rentals were indeed ‘illegal’ in NSW.
We have written extensively about disclosed meetings between Members/Ministers of the NSW Parliament and representatives from and lobbyists working on behalf of Airbnb, Stayz/Expedia and the Australian Short-Term Rental Association (ASTRA – formerly HRIA). What the recent Uber document leaks make very clear is the level of contact between such organisations and legislators which goes unreported.
The Hon Julie Collins MP, Federal Minister for Housing, Homelessness and Small Business, tweets: “On my way to Melbourne this morning to host a meeting of Australia’s Housing Ministers – the first of its kind in almost 5 years. It’s crucial we’re working together to address Australia’s housing challenges and I look forward to discussing solutions.” Ms Collins has been asked by us, and indeed has been invited to consult with Leilani Farha, Global Director of THE SHIFT, and former United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing.
Included among ‘Australia’s Housing Ministers’ would be Anthony Roberts MP; there is no designated Minister responsible for Homelessness in NSW.
IN THE MEDIA:
The Age/SMH reporter Tarwar Razaghi writes: ‘Gone up astronomically’: Rents spike in regional Victorian towns. And: ‘Ridiculous prices’: Regional rents in NSW up 30 per cent since start of pandemic. Real Estate Agents quoted include Belle Property Hunter Valley (Belle Escapes has 163 NSW holiday rentals), Ray White Lismore and McGrath Upper Hunter. No mention in the article of the impacts holiday rentals could be having on these regions.
Domain reporter, Sue Williams, writes: Australia’s rental crisis worsens as record price hikes leave tenants desperate. No mention in the article of the impacts holiday rentals could be having. This may perhaps be due to the reporter’s partner having to ‘move house’ after 13 years in the Domain section of the Sydney Morning Herald, after “a high-powered deputation from Airbnb visited the Herald, and (he) was told, accused him of being an “activist rather than a journalist”, for reporting on Airbnb”.
SO, THEIR 1,600+ SHORT-TERM RENTALS AREN’T ENOUGH:
Newcastle-based Will Creedon – Alloggio – is quietly moving into Noosa, according to Noosa Today. The article carries details of just some of their multi-million dollar acquisitions. Further details of their ASX dealings can be found on Alloggio’s website here. In our State, they’re currently running 63 holiday rentals in Coffs Harbour, 60 holiday rentals in Jervis Bay, 330 holiday rentals in Port Stephens, and a further 108 holiday rentals in the Shoalhaven.
EYES (ICAC) FOCUSSED ON BARILARO’s NEW YORK APPOINTMENT – NOT INVESTMENT NSW’s LINKS TO LEGISLATIVE CHANGES TO PLANNING REGULATIONS:
The Guardian (amongst others) also reports that advisers to John Barilaro will be called next Tuesday to give evidence at the inquiry into the New York Trade Job. One of those to give evidence is Joseph Brayford, former senior policy adviser – Skills, Oct 2017 – Mar 2019.
Investment NSW is jointly responsible to two Ministers:
The Minister for Skills - Giovanni (John) Barilaro was Minister for Skills Apr 2015 – Apr 2019.
The Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade and Tourism, Stuart Ayres. Ayres, as the responsible Minister at the time, failed to have disclosed to the Parliamentary Inquiry on short-term holiday letting DestinationNSW’s official partnership with Expedia/Stayz and other STHL booking platforms.
In turn, DestinationNSW ‘won’ Expedia Media Solutions marketing award – all this coincided with the Parliamentary Inquiry into Airbnb/Stayz-type rentals.
We go to February 2019 – Investment NSW case study – The Future of Airbnb Made in Sydney (copy attached):
The Minister for Skills – Airbnb operator/Minister John Barilaro
The Minister for Investment and Trade and Tourism – Stuart Ayres
(The lawyer and policy adviser – Skills – Joseph Brayford)
In July 2021, Callum Foote (Michael West Media) published an article: Have the Barilaros avoided GST on their luxury estate? What’s the scam?
“According to John Barilaro’s pecuniary interest documents lodged with NSW Parliament, the Deputy Premier and his wife formed a family partnership by the name of ‘D BARILARO & J BARILARO’ in 2014 to handle the proceeds of their “holiday house”, being joint owners.
According to the Australian Business Register, the partnership is not currently, nor ever has been, registered for GST.
According to the Australian Tax Office, those who let properties, only need to pay GST if they provide accommodation in a commercial residential premises. A commercial residential premises is defined by the ATO as providing “accommodation to multiple, unrelated guests or residents at once”.
Once the turnover from renting out a commercial residential premises exceeds $75,000, its owners need to register for GST…
If the estate has made the same annual turnover as it did in 2014, then the total GST payable may be upwards of $112,000 on $1.12m in total turnover for the past 7 years. It should be emphasised that these are our calculations. Although they have not been refuted by the office of the Deputy Premier…
John Barilaro has declined to respond to questions for this story.”
In December 2018 we too wrote directly to Deanna and John Barilaro – we copied the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). A copy of our email is attached. The Barilaro’s ‘declined’ to respond to our questions.
PLEASE: Will Guardian Australia launch a similar investigation into Airbnb and others? Or do senior executives’ Airbnb rentals rule out including short-term holiday letting into such an exposé?