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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Byron Cr Spooner emphasises need for bed tax trial

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Paul SpoonerHighlighting the need for action on the increasing tourist pressure on Byron Bay, Councillor Paul Spooner was featured on the ABC News Breakfast show this morning as part of a program looking at the increased pressure that short term rentals are putting on the housing market and infrastructure.

‘We need the reality of situations of places like Byron to be highlighted to convince the state government to change,’ Spooner told The Echo.

Approximately 15 per cent of accommodation in the Byron shire is now dedicated to short term letting and the pressure from the tourist trade accounts for around 30 per cent of infrastructure costs according to Spooner.

‘We have just had a 33.5 per cent rate rise to fill the gap in our infrastructure needs,’ he continued.

The profit to be made from short term letting through groups like Airbnb is leaving many locals in the position where they can no longer secure stable and affordable housing.

Byron council is currently looking at ways to create a register of short term accommodation providers with a view to the possibility of a bed tax or other similar option, however, the state government would need to provide the legislation to support such a move.

‘We need to develop specific proposals to present to the state government so that we are one of the areas that gets to trial these ideas,’ said Spooner.

‘I’m currently looking at getting this onto the state agenda for the next Labor party conference in July. I am hoping to get the support to get a trail set up in this area.

It needs to happen here – yesterday.’

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  1. Cr Spooner appears to have forgotten that short term rental accommodation, commonly called holiday letting is completely ILLEGAL in this Shire. It is only legal in 4 shires in NSW: Kiama, Shoalhaven, Gosford and Pittwater. He is failing to protect the permanent ratepayers from this “cancer” that has grown out of control and has changed the fabric of this community. No wonder this shire has a housing crisis.

    …Cr Paul Spooner You should have acted “yesterday”.

    • Excellent point John. By abolishing no fault evictions will alleviate this rort. Longer leases provide stability rather forcing renters into a constant state of anxiety.

  2. Nice work Paul Spooner! I hope this passes ASAP while we still have any beautiful Byron community left…a ban on Air BNB wouldn’t be a bad idea either 😉

    Here is a post I saw today showing we lost yet another couple of long term and cherished members of our community due to this problem:

    “Dear Byron shire, thanks for having us, it’s been great! You’ve given me and my kids a great 12 years as (sometimes unwilling) urban rental nomads in paradise!
    You’ve given us a lot, and I’ve given you a lot too..
    I’ve played at your fundraisers, your festivals, your cafes, your birthday parties, your weddings, your funerals, your beggars banquets, your cancer support gigs, your schools, your old peep’s homes, your beaches, your streets…. I’ve played at and helped organise your marches, your actions, your local community folk orchestras…
    I’ve raised my voice to be heard and support others at times, and other times I’ve been supported deeply myself.
    I’ve sung my heart out, fiddled til my bow strings snapped, I’ve walked on your beaches, swum in your oceans and creeks, danced on your streets, in your halls, beneath your skies, stretched with your yoga teachers, shimmied with your belly dancers, found my qi with your qi gong… I’ve wept and laughed and loved and grieved and birthed my children, touched some dark places in my own psyche on your shores, and also touched great joy… I’ve pulsed to your beat (even when the 10 minute Mullum hugs when I just wanted to go shopping got a bit much!), I’ve equal parts loved and loathed the deep-cosmic-quinoa-eating-chakra-alligning deep and meaningfuls in your supermarkets, and I’ve always known deep down that however much feather and leather and brass bangles and designer hippie wear you parade around, underneath, when it gets down to it, you can make things happen! Look at Bentley.
    Unfortunately (and many thanks to all those who’ve been keeping a look out for a home for me and my family) we’ve been squeezed out by your ridiculously over-inflating rent prices and your lack of kid friendly rentals, and after a road trip, and then a stint of officially being homeless (albeit having family and friends to stay with) we’ve landed down here at the South Coast. It’s lovely here.
    Dear Byron shire peeps… I hope there’s enough of your activist energy left to rally yourselves together and just start several tiny home villages on council or crown land!!
    Byron shire council seems a little like a rusty old steam-engine to me – some amazing people with all the very best intentions going in the right direction, but too much bureaucratic rubbish and outdated red tape to jump through to effect changes with the necessary speed…
    Just a suggestion people…Do it anyway! Organise yourselves! Negotiate with the red tape retrospectively. Make it a media campaign, a nationwide example of people doing it for themselves! You already have a social license! Gather your grannies, your single mummas and dads, your youth, your coffee makers, clairvoyants, musos, artists, your low income residue, find builders or tiny home manufacturers willing to support, get a legal representative to slow down eviction! If I was up there, I would happily lead this myself….
    But I am a pregnant mumma of soon to be 4 kiddlies, and under the circumstances, couch surfing is not an option. Come on people, I hope you all step up and take this on, before all the music and the art and the community spirit gets lost and your paradise becomes just another overpriced bland holiday destination… Make us proud!
    And if not, come join us at the South Coast!
    (Ps, You’ve lost Taz as well as Greg Sheehan too… he’s following Lily and Shay down here.)
    Well. That’s that.
    We’re happy down here!
    We’ll come visit for sure.
    Much love yas all!”

  3. Yes so many people I know have joined BNB. they pay no tax, kick out the people who need housing and rake in the profits. Greed and more greed. Go Spooner

  4. Its time for an AirBnB tax which should start at 50% of the enormous rent they are gouging as its deconstructing community which in the end will cost the government money. Thank you Cr Spooner for standing up for local renters, doesn’t seem like anyone else is.

  5. Tax ALL the holiday beds. I pay rates so tax the beds. Then FIX the ROADS and clean the town up. Bugger the Masterplan -how about basic services Hey, knock yourself out Byron Council and even put is a couple of pedestrian crossings so the kids can actually cross the road.

    Whenever I travel to Ballina or Tweed or Noosa or ANYWHERE, then come home to Byron I realise we are being ripped off in terms of services.


    Tourists to pay fair share for using the town
    Residents rise up and say enough is enough.

    Hey, Simon…. dare you to drive up and down Shelley Drive without you axle breaking.

  6. Recently a friend of mine left Sydney because of the high rental costs. She visited the Byron Shire and was shocked to find rental prices were similar to Sydney. She was shocked because the Byron Shire is a low income area compared to Sydney. The reasons for this disparity are many. Additionally the availability of long term rental accommodation is low.

    Since household rentals here are about $600-$650, a household would need a total weekly income of over $1,000 to be able to afford to live here.

    According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing, 2011, the percentage of households earning under than $1,000 in Sydney was 29.6%, in Byron Shire was 50% and in Brunswick Heads was $64.2%. Ponder on this.

    My understanding is that the population of Brunswick Heads is under 1,400 and the number of people who are homeless is about 150 people. This is more than 10% of the population.

    A big opportunity exists for the community to come together to support equally everyone who lives and visits this beautiful part of Australia.


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