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In yesterday’s Canberra Times / Sydney’s Northern Beaches Review - Rob Stokes MP is State Member - was this statement:

“Putting even more pressure on the rental market, short-stay rentals through third parties like Airbnb are offering landlords the opportunity to triple their income from their property. There's greater risk, as 100 per cent occupancy is unlikely, but the rewards are proving too attractive for landlords to pass up. Even in regional Australia there are up to 76 times as many Airbnb options as long-term rental properties available for lease.”

  • There were 10,852,208 private dwellings counted in the 2021 Census

  • 70 per cent were separate houses, 13 per cent were townhouses and 16 per cent were apartments

  • There were 1,403,776 unoccupied dwellings on Census Night

The plea from Eurobodalla’s Mayor, Mathew Hatcher, to short-term rental investors to rent dwellings to residents is well founded. A snapshot of the 2021 Census reveals:

On 02 June 2016, former Airbnb hack, Sam McDonagh boasted to The Australian newspaper: “Australia is the most penetrated market in the world.” In January 2017, this was followed up with: “Last year…Australia was “the most penetrated market in the world”, and that they hoped to double Sydney’s 262,000 total annual guests, that figure itself a 106 per cent increase on the previous year.

These comments came while our State Government was considering Parliamentary Hearings on the Adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting in New South Wales. The Inquiry was called on 09 September 2015, with submissions closing on 09 November 2015. Hearings ran from 07 March-30 May 2016. Of note:

  • NSW Land and Environment Court case law judgments were not reviewed, let alone considered,

  • Recommendations from Coroners were not reviewed,

  • No advice was sought from Fire & Rescue NSW,

  • No input was sought from our Federal/State Homelessness services,

  • Differences in Federal Building Codes, applicable to residential/commercial buildings were not taken into account,

  • No consideration was given to short-term holiday rentals impacts of housing availability/affordability/homelessness,

  • No legal advice whatsoever on the use of housing for commercial activity or the proprietary rights of neighbouring residential title deed holders was sought.

On 24 November 2016, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Sean Nicholls (now ABC 4Corners) disclosed then Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s undeclared Airbnb business – Dungowan Estate, purchased in June 2014 for $2,015,000. On the Stayz platform, wife Deanna Barilaro writes: “This is a $5 million dollar property and as you can understand, we need to be selective.”

At no time during the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry was any declaration made by Stuart Ayres MP in terms of DestinationNSW’s “collusion” with online booking platforms. And no reference was made of NSW Parliamentarians, profiting from Airbnb-type rentals. MPs include, but are surely not limited to:

In February 2019, Investment NSW published a ‘Case study’: The Future of Airbnb Made in Sydney (see attached). It is a glossy PR piece for Airbnb, produced by and no doubt paid for by the NSW Government with taxpayers’ funds.

Today an inquiry into how the former NSW deputy premier and our State’s most high-profile Airbnb landlord, John Barilaro, managed to secure a taxpayer-funded $500,000 pa job in the United States. Investment NSW’s Amy Brown was the first person called to give evidence at the upper house inquiry. According to reports:

  • Minister Stuart Ayres told Amy Brown that Barilaro may apply for the job,

  • Brown admitted she took no steps to ensure Barilaro was not breaching a code of conduct by using information gained when he was a Minister, or if he was permitted to take the job so soon after being Minister,

  • Brown did not declare that she may have a ‘conflict of interest’,

  • Brown then told Ayres that Barilaro was shortlisted,

  • Within a month, Brown was promoted by Ayres without application,

  • Barilaro’s office told Brown to cancel the $500,000 pa job offer to the successful applicant, then Barilaro indeed applied for the same job and Brown granted the position to her former boss and didn’t think that was a problem.

Former ICAC assistant commissioner Anthony Whealy says there is a need for “transparency and accountability” with Barilaro’s appointment as US trade commissioner – his comments are HERE.

Could there also be an inquiry into how ministerial discretion was used to alter our State’s Environment Planning Policy so that Barilaro and cohort’s use of residential housing suddenly became ‘exempt’/’complying development’? Not likely…

- - - -

NSW Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts MP, must immediately rescind Rob Stokes’ Affordable Rental Housing (Short-term Rental Accommodation) 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”.


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