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It is now 17 months since the NSW Departments of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPE) and Customer Service sought feedback on draft instruments and regulations that will be introduced state wide, allowing an unknown number of local and overseas booking platforms to turn any/every residential dwelling or structure into a commercial tourist/visitor rental. NSW Planning’s website states that feedback will help them “better understand the opinions and concerns of the community, which inform the Government’s decisions”. We are aware that subsequent to this call for submissions, State Public Servants hosted round-table discussions, which excluded almost all resident community groups. Now, on the Department of Planning’s website: “The department has published all submissions received in response to the exhibited Discussion Paper…”

Member for Baulkham Hills David Elliott MP correctly informed one of his constituents that submissions in response to the Discussion Paper closed on 11 September 2019, and yet, on 18 September, Rob Jeffress, Chair of the Australian Short-Term Rental Association (ASTRA), emailed his submission to NSW Customer Service, who forwarded the Submission to Planning on 19 September – more than a week after the ‘closing date’. Suzie Hatherly from DPIE notated that Jeffress/ASTRA’s submission was “One for logging/saving please. Thanks!” And an ASTRA representative was subsequently included in round-table discussions with Government Department Staff.

The DPIE’s website publishes submissions under two categories: STRA Submissions and STRA Redacted Submissions. That which is immediately obvious:

· Covering letters from the likes of the City of Sydney, other Local Councils and ASTRA are published, but not the contents of their submissions,

· Present are the usual multiple scripted responses from commercial landlords who have reproduced Airbnb/ASTRA’s recommended text,

· The non-publication of submissions, such as that from Fire & Rescue NSW (which we were assured would be marked as available for public view) plus those submissions referencing and quoting Federal legislation, Land and Environment case law judgments, Coroners’ reports, State Fire Officials, Law Society advice etc.

It is assumed the DPIE is required by law to publish all submissions for public exhibition, with those submissions then sent to the NSW Parliament for archival purposes. If one telephones the DPIE to ask about the omission of their submission, one is now advised that there are “no resources to contact anyone within the Department”. One can email, however no one from the DPIE has acknowledged our email, let alone responded to questions.

ASTRA’s Joan Bird recently wrote to her cohort: “…come June 1 the state planning rules change to allow STRA in approved residential development, taking it (compliance with zoning regulations) out of council hands…It’s an issue I’m very very aware of, having worked on it at a state board level and with the state government for the last three years. I really do understand what is going on in this space.”

Meanwhile, it appears that NSW residents, who have paid tens and tens of thousands of dollars in stamp duty to the NSW Government for homes (residential Class 1a and Class 2 dwellings) where short-term rentals are categorically an “illegal use of premises”, will have their proprietary rights retrospectively overridden. No only that, many of those opposed to the commercialisation of homes and suburbs have been blocked from giving testimony to a parliamentary inquiry and/or had their written submissions marked ‘confidential’, been excluded from official meetings/discussions, and now see their latest submissions left unpublished.

Cities across Europe and elsewhere are uniting to demand tougher rules for Airbnb rentals. At the same time, NSW State MPs whose illegal short-term rental properties have been captured on NSW court orders, vote on short-term rental legislation without disclosing their conflicts of interest.

Premier Berejiklian and Planning Minister Stokes, are you ripping up our residential Title Deeds and why is Parliament censoring us?

Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits Neighbours not Strangers


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