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Let it be said: Our Federal/State Governments and those in Local Councils must wake up and step up to protect the basic human right to safe affordable housing. In the Byron Bay Shire, Deputy Mayor Michael Lyon has lodged a motion for the Council meeting on Thursday 25 March, declaring a “Housing Crisis”. Councillor Lyon is hoping to generate some momentum and seeks support from other Councils in demanding State Government assistance. Councillor Lyon’s motion reads:

“We have known for some time that affordability and availability of housing has been decreasing due to a range of factors. What has changed recently is the marked acceleration caused by the surge of buying of properties from out-of-towners. Local real estate agents have said that it has been a record year for sales and that the increase in rents has been unprecedented. Recently the ‘Hung Out to Dry’ exhibitions have highlighted the plight of potentially 600,000 women who are at risk of homelessness in Australia. While very pronounced in Byron Shire, this crisis is not confined to our shire but is occurring up and down the coast and increasingly impacting on regional areas inland. I move that Council:

1. Declares we are currently experiencing a crisis situation with respect to housing availability and affordability in our community.

2. Invites other councils experiencing similar challenges to make the same declaration.

3. Investigates options for providing ‘temporary vanpacker’ accommodation for those locals currently forced to camp in their cars due to the lack of availability of other forms of accommodation. This may include the use of either Council land assets or land that we manage.

4. Investigates options for safe and secure emergency accommodation for women in local tourist and caravan parks. This may include Council owned and operated parks and/or private parks. This may also include parks that are outside the Byron Shire.

5. Makes contact with tourist and caravan park managers to discuss point 4 above.

6. Receives a report back from staff on points 2- 5 by or before July 2021.

The Byron Shire has done excellent work looking into this issue; we strongly recommend that you take the time to read the full text of the Motion. Also stated: “We also request the Federal Government invest more money into social housing initiatives.”

The irony of course is that Byron Shire has failed to enforce residential zoning. Byron Council is now proposing that residents be supplied with emergency accommodation in that which is normally used to accommodate travellers, while housing in their area is swamped with illegal tourist/visitor rentals. It must be said that since 2015, all other NSW Councils have seemingly failed to bring illegal short-term rental operators to our Land and Environment Court.

Airbnb has fierce competition from other online operators when it comes to the number of homes listed on its platform. Recent data (13/02/21) from Inside Airbnb shows the number of homes lost to Airbnb in the Northern Rivers region by Local Council area are:

Ballina 670 Byron Shire 3,410 Clarence Valley 677 Kyogle 51 Lismore 242

Richmond Valley 42 Tweed Shire 1,412

Councillor Lyon also wrote that Byron Shire has “pleaded with State Govt to allow us (to) exclude short-term rentals and keep identified residential areas for residents only…”

DestinationNSW has endorsed the DPIE’s planned changes to ‘agricultural land’ use (see photo). BusinessNSW, which falls under Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has released a Visitor Economy Industry Action Plan, which ‘puts the visitor first’.

Housing affordability and availability is ‘in crisis’ in many regions of our State. In terms of housing use, NSW Fire+Rescue has written to Parliament. Our Rural Fire Service/Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott produced a 116-page report – PLANNING FOR BUSH FIRE PROTECTION - A guide for councils, planners, fire authorities and developers. This report addresses issues of strategic planning, development assessment, construction provisions under the National Construction Code, plus so many other planning issues and measures.

We have asked Commissioner Rob Rogers to confirm if the DPIE has consulted with the RFS on its plans to prioritise profits from rural agriculture land by way of short-term rentals (and other commercial land use activities). We await the Commissioner’s response.

The NSW Government continues to prioritise commercial profits over the right to housing and residents’ rights.

Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits

Neighbours not Strangers


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