Pecuniary interest no problem for NSW politicians who holiday let their properties

From our friends at Neighbours Not Strangers:
Dear John Barilaro
 
The activities of non-accredited short-term rental operators, according to many of our Neighbours Not Strangers Members plus others, are having a dramatic negative impact on the financial viability and livelihoods of Small Business Owners across our State, particularly Accredited Accommodation Providers.  Where these Accredited Businesses are contributing to our Federal, State and Local Governments by way of GST and commercial rates and taxes on all facets of their business activities, in stark contrast non-accredited operators often appear to be making no such contributions and are certainly, in the vast majority of cases, in breach of Residential Zoning legislation.  The Council for the City of Sydney refers to this breach as an “Illegal Use of (Residential) Premises”.  
Your Register of Disclosures by Members of the NSW Legislative Assembly as at 30 June 2018  lists you as “Joint Owner” of Dungowan Estate:
 
 
NSW Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances as from 01 July 2018 show your total remuneration to be $335,084.00 plus Electoral Allowance of $49,885.00 to $140,165.00 = a total of up to $475,249.00 annually.  Plus $370/night for Sydney Allowance for up to 180 nights per year (an additional $66,780.00) – say, in total, around $542,000.00 p.a.  As you declare yourself “Joint Owner”, the income from Dungowan Estate would be additional to the remuneration package received from NSW Tax Payers.
The Parliamentary Code of Conduct for Members  deals with, among other things, ‘conflicts of interest’ and ‘pecuniary interest disclosures*’.
*  Mr Barilaro, have you disposed of your Hosking Place (Sydney) property?  The apartment is on your 2016 Register of Disclosures however, we can find no record of sale since 2012 and the property does not appear on your current Register of Disclosures.   Are you able to confirm that you no longer own this property?  Or alternatively, if the property is owned by you or a family member, please confirm whether or not this property too is short-term let to tourists/visitors?  
The HomeAway (Expedia) website advertises Dungowan Estate at $2,146.00 average/night.  Of note – one example only – the price quoted for the night of 23 January 2019 is $2,832.10.  The HomeAway website invites one to “Ask (the) Owner a Question”.
 
As per the HomeAway website’s invitation, a week ago we asked Deanna Barilaro questions relating to Dungowan Estate.  No reply has been forthcoming.  Now, specifically in light of the fact that you are NSW Minister for Small Business/Deputy Premier, we put to you the following in relation to Dungowan Estate:
  • Is the property a (Federal) Building Codes of Australia Class 1(a) dwelling or has it been upgraded to a Class 1(b) or Class 3 dwelling?
  • Is the property compliant with Federal Disability Access Legislation for commercial operations?
  • Is the property subject to a Local Government Development Approval and has consent been granted for short-term tourist/visitor accommodation?
  • Is Scott Martin, Director Planning & Environment, Goulburn Mulwaree Council, or his Staff Members, in a position to challenge any aspects of a Deputy Premier’s use of Residential dwellings for tourist and visitor accommodation plus oversee issues of compliance?
  • Is the property subject to annual Fire Inspections undertaken by the Local Council?
  • Is the swimming pool subject to any mandatory inspections carried out by Council of all tourist, visitor and multi-occupancy developments?
  • Is there a licence for the serving of alcohol (Liquor Act 2007)?
  • Is there compliance with the NSW Food Safety Act?
  • Is there compliance with all Work Cover legislation?
  • Is there a licence to act as a party venue/wedding facility?
  • Is there compliance with the Hospitality Industry General Award 2010?
  • Short-Term Rentals are not NSW Residential Tenancy Agreements.  Assuming therefore that there is no compliance with the NSW Residential Tenancies Act at this property?
  • Are any GST contributions paid?
  • Is State Land Tax paid, given the commercial operations?
  • Are gross domestic council rates paid?
  • Have any septic upgrades (or similar) been undertaken?
  • While commercial clients are in residence, is the property staffed?
  • Are residential or commercial water rates paid?
  • What commercial public liability insurance is held?
  • As per Expedia/HomeAway’swebsite:  “This is a $5 million property”.  If there is a mortgage over the property, are commercial or home-loan repayments made?
  • On how many short-term rental platforms do you have this property listed
  • Are any ‘road contributions’** paid?
  • Most pointedly, how do you ensure that accredited accommodation providers – ie Small Business Owners – are not disadvantaged by the commercial operations at Dungowan Estate?
**  Please do correct us if we are mistaken:  It is our understanding that NSW Roads and Maritime Services only maintain highways; auxiliary roads are maintained by council. ‘Paper Roads’ for a rural property lodging a development application for Rural Tourism, and any ‘paper road’ that runs through a property must be closed for the DA to be approved, with the land being purchased from Crown Lands – cost $50,000-$150,000.  The ‘paper road’ must then be consolidated with the larger title to form a new title of land.  Consolidation charges apply.  ‘Developer Contributions’ are also paid to Council to assist with maintenance of local roads and infrastructure.
 
Having listed your property on the Expedia/HomeAway, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Booking.com/ platforms, you have agreed to and are bound by their Terms and Conditions. Most specifically in the case of Airbnb, are you fully aware of exactly what you have agreed to under their Terms and Conditions?
We put to you in the strongest possible terms that your short-term tourist/visitor rentals are seen as a ‘conflict of interest’, considering the NSW Parliament’s ongoing review of the adequacy of legislation.  Given your Ministerial obligations to accredited NSW Small Business Accommodation Providers, it is well noted that, according to Hansard records, you have never mentioned Airbnb or short-term rentals in the NSW Parliament.  In fact, as the Minister responsible, the last time you mentioned any ‘Small Business’ matter in our Parliament was in November 2017.
Coinciding with the Parliamentary Inquiry and review into the Adequacy of regulation of short-term holiday rentals in New South Wales, multiple Ministerial meetings have been granted to Expedia/HomeAway and Airbnb.  As reported to Premier Berejiklian, DestinationNSW, an official branch of the NSW Government, in partnership with Expedia/HomeAway and Airbnb, appears to be the largest facilitator of “Illegal”short-term rentals across our State.  We have questioned the non-disclosure of the State Government’s involvement with these off-shore, multi-billion dollar booking platforms. John Barilaro:
  • Have you discussed with any Member of the Parliamentary Inquiry Hearing Committee or other Members of Parliament your involvement in and profiting from short-term tourist/visitor rentals?
  • Have you discussed your short-term tourist/vsitor rentals with National Party Members Thomas George MP, Kevin Humphries MP and former MP John Williams? (Their properties appear on NSW Land and Environment Court Orders together with Penal Notice – “Illegal Use of Premises”.  MPs George and Humphries have recently voted on legislation connected with tourist/visitor rentals.)
  • Did you discuss with the Hon Stuart Ayres or the Hon Adam Marshall – former and current Ministers for Tourism and Major Events – plus, specifically, Ministers for Planning and Fair Trading, the links between DestinationNSW and short-term rental platforms Expedia/HomeAway and Airbnb, together with your links to these Organisations?
  • Like you, and given DestinationNSW’s substantial involvement with Expedia/HomeAway and Airbnb, noted is the case that your Nationals Party colleague Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall has never mentioned Airbnb or short-term tourist/visitor rentals in the NSW Parliament.
John Barilaro, you are silent on so important an issue.  Your Parliamentary Register of Disclosures asks, in relation to your “Holiday House” – Dungowan Estate: “Nature of business carried on by the partnership (where the services provided relate to your position as a Member)”.  You have marked this section “N/A” – Not Applicable.  Are you declaring that your Dungowan Estate income and listings across numerous platforms do not “relate to your position as a Member”, as a Minister, and as Deputy Premier of New South Wales, while the LNP is proposing that short-term tourist/visitor rentals be retrospectively deemed as ‘exempt and complying development’in every residential dwelling in NSW?
 
As Deputy Premier and Leader of the NSW State Nationals – and at $2,832.10 per night return at Dungowan Estate on short-term tourist/visitor rentals – might you reflect and consider that one does not believe that you would not have sought to heavily influence Members of the NSW Parliament on this matter.
 
You find yourself with a clear conflict of interest – yes?
 
Please:  Your response to the above questions and issues raised
Trish Burt
Convener
NEIGHBOURS NOT STRANGERS’ SUPPORT NETWORK:  Amsterdam, Austin, Barcelona, Berlin, Byron Bay, Edinburgh, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Leeds, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Miami, Montreal, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Pacific Grove, Paradise Valley, Palm Springs, Paris, Reykjavik, San Francisco, San Diego, Scottsdale, Sedona, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto, Tucson, Valencia, Vancouver, Victorian (Vancouver Island), Washington DC, Winnipeg, Yamba, Zurich.

 

Trish Burt
Convener
NEIGHBOURS NOT STRANGERS’ SUPPORT NETWORK:  Amsterdam, Austin, Barcelona, Berlin, Byron Bay, Edinburgh, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Leeds, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Miami, Montreal, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Pacific Grove, Paradise Valley, Palm Springs, Paris, Reykjavik, San Francisco, San Diego, Scottsdale, Sedona, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto, Tucson, Valencia, Vancouver, Victorian (Vancouver Island), Washington DC, Winnipeg, Yamba, Zurich.

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