HOLIDAY LETTING: Exactly who is who in the holiday letting zoo?
HOLIDAY LETTING: Exactly who is who in the holiday letting zoo? Christian Morrow

LETTERS: Holiday letting data questioned

AS THE debate over the State Government's proposed new Holiday Letting Laws heats up here in the Byron Shire, Trish Burt from Sydney based Neighbours Not Strangers questions the data used by some proponents of holiday letting and the possible 'collusion' between some stakeholders in the debate.

DESTINATION Byron vice-president Jeremy Holmes' comments in BSN of July 19 are noted with interest. Mr Holmes failed to mention that the short-term tourist/visitor rental of dwellings constructed, zoned and purchased as residential housing is an 'Illegal Use of Premises', as repeatedly and consistently judged by the NSW Land and Environment Court.

In BSN of July 26, Eacham Curry, director government corporate affairs of the US$18.5 billion Expedia Inc, writes that their "data shows that in 2016, short-term rental accommodation contributed $235.2 million to the NSW North Coast economy and supported 161 jobs across the region”. Who commissioned and paid for this 'data', who has scrutinised the 'data', and no doubt the 'data' has been volunteered to those in the NSW Parliament, thanks to Mr Curry's contacts.

In December 2017, we (Neighbours Not Strangers) were approached by NSW Fair Trading, reportedly at the behest of the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matthew Kean. The minister sought from us "examples of collusion between agents and online short-term rental platforms”.

We were able to report to Matt Kean plus all members of the NSW Parliament that after, Airbnb and Expedia, DestinationNSW, an official branch of the NSW Government, appears to be the largest facilitator of illegal short-term rental of residential housing across our State. We can find no disclosure of DestinationNSW's 'collusion' with short-term rental platforms nor that of National Parks NSW during the New South Wales Parliament's inquiry or review of the adequacy of legislation of short-term rentals.

The NSW Premier was asked if she would seek, together with DestinationNSW, voluntary Orders from the NSW Land and Environment Court to stop this 'collusion'. There is Land and Environment Court case law to support this request. Our report to Parliament and request for orders seems to have displeased Premier Berejiklian and State MPs, as none will now address the issue.

Back to Destination Byron, who we understand was, until very recently, an affiliate of DestinationNSW. Jeremy Holmes claims that his organisation "plays a key role... facilitating collaboration between industry and government”. Would Mr Holmes please raise the issue of DestinationNSW's collaboration with short-term letting platforms with Sandra Chipchase, CEO of DestinationNSW, or directly with our parliamentary ministers? And finally, might we please have some transparency on this critical issue. As everyone knows, residential housing is for the housing of residents.

Trish Burt


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