Does the NSW Coalition government support holiday letting in residential areas or not?
It’s a question NSW Greens MP and former Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham says she has been waiting three years for an answer to, and last Tuesday she got one from tourism MP George Souris (Nationals).
Well, sort of.
In a recent general purpose standing committee held in parliament, Mr Souris was asked whether he supported ‘legitimate tourism operators’ or those ‘who operate without approvals, safety provisions for visitors and without paying their way to local government’.
Mr Souris replied to Ms Barham after some stalling that ‘holiday letting in NSW is essentially a local government issue’, and referred to the recently introduced holiday rental code of conduct, introduced by the industry with help from NSW Trade and Investment and Destination NSW.
He claims councils have at their disposal a range of regulatory mechanisms to deal with matters such as noise pollution issues.
‘These can usually be addressed by existing regulation; for example, under the protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, councils and communities are encouraged to utilise these mechanisms as appropriate,’ he said.
But MP Paul Green from the Christian Democratic Party made the point during Mr Souris’s questioning that, ‘local government is an arm of the state government, as we well know, so obviously its master should be watching over it to ensure that it is able to enact or empower those regulations that the state makes’.
Dept of planning replies
As for the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure, a spokesperson told The Echo the department ‘worked with industry and other government departments to develop a self-regulatory code of conduct for use by owners, managers, guests and visitors of holiday let properties’.
‘The department is continuing to work with councils and industry on this issue and has recently attended meetings with industry representatives and concerned residents of Byron Bay,’ the spokesperson said.
It should be noted that the general purpose standing committee transcript is an uncorrected proof.