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The former NSW Minister for Planning, the Hon Rob Stokes, saw fit to accommodate the demands of and funded pleas from the likes of Richardson Coutts and Statecraft on behalf of Airbnb, and Barton Deakin, Hawker Britton and SEC Newgate on behalf of Expedia Aust/Stayz. Also in the corridors of the NSW Parliament, acting on behalf of, are FTI Consulting and Nexus APAC. Concurrently, Minister Stokes had, seated on the benches of Parliament, colleagues who were profiting from what Legal Counsel for the City of Sydney referred to as the “Illegal Use of Premises” – aka, short-term commercial rentals of residential dwellings. These included: Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Opposition Leader Jodi McKay (2 properties), Minister Don Harwin, and of course the infamous ‘Bridgeport Brigade’ - the Hon Thomas George, the Hon John Williams, and the Hon Kevin Humphries. Alas, our little band of community representatives don’t have the funds or the positions enjoyed by those listed therefore, since 09 September 2015, not once have we been permitted to speak at Parliamentary Inquiries or join consultation processes, nor have we ever been granted a meeting with a Minister responsible for this issue.

Ted Nesi, Political/Business editor and investigative reporter at CBS station wrote how Newport Massachusetts is banning whole-home short-term rentals in residential zones. When we wrote in reply of Airbnb’s boast that here, we are their “most penetrated market in the world’, and of Rob Stokes’ use of ministerial discretion to alter legislation, giving access to every home to an unlimited number of online booking platforms, Rhode Island State Senator Sam Bell wrote: “Look to see non-compliance with (any) state registry cited as a basis for zoning abandonment.” Another commentator wrote: “Also, state registration as proof of zoning noncompliance!

Devoid of legal qualification, one can only agree with the scenario that Rob Stokes/NSW Planning and NSW Fair Trading have set up an utterly flawed structure that aids and abets the abandonment of residential zoning plus clearly sets out details and figures as proof of contempt for not only zoning, but Federal Building Codes and Disability Access legislation, along with abandonment of coroners’ recommendations.

When NSW Treasurer Matt Kean held the Fair Trading Ministry, he sought our advice on “agents colluding with online booking platforms”. And we replied with evidence that the worst offender, in terms of numbers, was State Government’s DestinationNSW. Minister Kean promptly fell silent.

Around the time of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Short-Term Holiday Rentals, one remembers the theme of Airbnb’s expensive advertising push: Spencer Kirk (Redfern), whose neighbours abhorred his Airbnb activity, Lynn Stanton (Erskineville), Kris from Glebe sought Jamie Parker MP’s help, etc, etc. Below are nine of NSW’s short-term rental landlords – with some 1,667 homes amongst them operating as commercial holiday rentals:

Rob Jeffress (ASTRA) – around 575 homes listed across several agencies at last count (02/22)

Sabrina Schwaighofer (MadeComfy) – 175 listings according to an InsideAirbnb data scrape

Yes, there’s the NSW (State) Government’s DestinationNSW and its site: VisitNSW. It has 2,083 ‘Self-Contained’ listings and 720 ‘Cabins & Cottages’. Noted too, there is no indication whether any of their 70 ‘Farm Stay’ listings or 300 ‘Bed & Breakfast’ listings are modified and accredited. A total of 3,173 properties listed on our NSW State Government’s website which can only be categorised as ‘questionable’.

North Coast Residents advise that this Airbnb listing is causing neighbouring residents much grief. According to the information provided, the property at 116 Stuart Street, Mullumbimby is approved as “Affordable Rental Housing”…while it is advertised for rent at $762.50 for a two night stay. Byron Council confirm:

“DA (10.2016.189.1) was approved for multi-unit housing. As per condition 3 of the approval, two of the units are required to be used for the purposes of ‘affordable housing’.

3) Provision of Affordable Housing

From the date of the issue of an Occupation Certificate for the subject development two (2) dwellings are to be used only for the purposes of ‘affordable housing’ (as defined in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and State Environmental Planning Policy [Affordable Rental Housing] 2009), and these dwellings are to be managed by a registered community housing provider (registered community housing provider has the same meaning as in the Housing Act 2001).

A full copy of the Land & Environment Court issued approval is available on the DA Tracker

Is it not time that NSW Legislators reverted to our Federal, State and Local Government legislative frameworks and mandated that Local Councils MUST enforce residential zoning? Will anyone in the NSW Parliament acknowledge and respond to our correspondence?


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