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Cessnock, just 49 kms north-west of Newcastle, currently has 1,000 homes listed as active Airbnb rentals. The State Member for Cessnock, Clayton Barr MP, stood in Parliament two weeks ago: “I raise my electorate’s issue of housing affordability and homelessness, which has escalated significantly over the past couple of years. Since the creation of the unstoppable beast known as Airbnb and other platforms, home owners in New South Wales’ number one tourist destination outside of Sydney have decided to save a whole bunch of housing stock – their homes, their rooms, their facilities – for the occasional holidaymaker as opposed to long-term, permanent residents – families, single parents, single people, whatever the case may be, the people who used to sign six-month and 12-month leases. In my neck of the woods, it is true that you can run a very successful Airbnb by buying a house, renting it out for only weekend and holiday use and having it empty for somewhere in the vicinity of 200 or 250 nights of the year. It is true. The market will tell you that you can make more money by doing that. But where does that leave our society? When does the market and profitability become more important than a roof over people’s heads? ...The free market and Airbnb are not a solution to our homelessness. They are a cause. We need to address these issues as a society and as a Parliament.” The Member slams Airbnb five times in his address to the Parliament. Not once does he mention Airbnb’s main competitor in Australia, Stayz (Expedia).

On 23 February Clayton Barr MP wrote on his website:We Really Must Talk About Housing.” Two references to Airbnb. No reference to Stayz. On the same day, the Cessnock Advertiser printed an opinion piece: Clayton Barr: Raising the Barr | Housing crisis must be urgently addressed. Two references to Airbnb. No reference to Stayz.

Barr also took to Facebook on 23 February: “Our local area, in 2021 and 2022, has found itself in the middle of a massive shortage in rental properties and affordable housing…Airbnb has had a huge impact on the number of rental properties in our area available for long term leasing. Good luck to the weekenders and those landlords doing well in this market, but the flipside is that many in our local community that are just looking for a “home” now have very slim pickings.” Barr had one response, only: “I have no problem with people owning multiple properties, but everyone from Pensioners to kids working at Maccas are subsidising these wealth creation schemes. Pure Greed. Ask a homeless person in Cessnock tonight how they are dealing…”

On his Register of Disclosures to the NSW Parliament, Clayton Gordon Barr lists, under ‘Real property’, dwellings at four addresses. One dwelling – Unit 2, 3 Ocean Street, Black Head - Barr is “sole owner”. Under ‘Income from services provided…’, ‘Rent’ is received from two properties, while “Short term rental: Unit 2, 3 Ocean Street, Black Head” is noted. The two-bedroom property in Black Head has an Estimated Value of $900,000-$1,000,00. The Estimated Rent is $424 pw.

It would appear that Clayton Barr has paid NSW Fair Trading $65 for a short-term rental license – PID-STRA-25439,2430 (odd looking, compared to other license numbers). And 2/3 Ocean Street pops up as Stayz -The Perfect Holiday Home - Black Head, “sleeps 8” – double the generally acceptable safe occupancy level of 2-persons per bedroom. A minimum 2-night stay is $602. The residential dwelling is also advertised on Rent By Owner. The property was last sold in June 2013. It has reviews for Stayz holiday rentals since November 2014.

NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns MP: noted is your association with former head Airbnb staff in Australia. Noted too the growing number of parliamentary colleagues who publicly call for action on housing affordability and homelessness, while owning and profiting from the commercial short-term rental of residential dwellings.

In the Sydney Morning Herald today, PwC partner and chair of the board at the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, Richard Stewart, wrote: “Overnight I took part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout to raise money to support people experiencing homelessness – as I did when I was about 10 years old…Last night’s was the 17th Vinnies CEO sleepout and while it is the biggest fundraising event of the year for the St Vincent de Paul Society, there is more to it than the $72 million it has raised over the years for Vinnies services.” While reading this article, a sponsored advertisement for none other than Airbnb popped up – see photo below.

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NSW Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts MP, must immediately rescind Rob Stokes’ 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”.

Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones #Right2Housing People before Profits

Neighbours not Strangers


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