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March 3, 2024

Last mayoral candidates Q and A: are you a landlord?

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Affordable housing, social housing, emergency housing…. and holiday housing.

Here at The Echo we have seen and heard the word ‘housing’ come up time and again throughout the local government election campaign period, whether it’s from candidates or other voters.

Housing is generally a state and sometimes federal matter but all four councils covered by The Echo (Tweed, Byron, Ballina and Lismore) have declared a housing crisis.

The extent to which councillors can bring about a change in the dynamics that determine housing affordability and availability is plainly very debatable, as anyone who has attend ‘meet the candidates’ forums will know.

But if councillors are ‘thinking globally and acting locally’, what microcosmic role, so to speak, do they play when it comes to housing?

Are they trying to affect change and foster community by renting houses at reasonable rates to locals?

Or are they part of the region’s famous tourism scene, renting out properties online to holiday-makers?

Perhaps they themselves are vulnerable to a declared housing crisis and having to rent a home.

Or maybe they are lucky enough to own a home and have chosen to invest in other endeavours outside the real estate market.

This week, The Echo asked two simple questions of mayoral candidates on the Northern Rivers, focusing on a housing aspect that has been the topic of recent council meetings: short-term holiday letting.

  1. Are you / is your partner a landlord?
  2. If yes, are you / is your partner the landlord of a property rented out for holidays on the Northern Rivers?

Byron Shire Council

John Anderson (ungrouped independent)

Bruce Clarke (Byron Shire Action Group):        ‘No. Neither my partner nor I are landlords or have investment property. I own one property – my home in Byron Shire which is my residence.’

Cate Coorey (Community Byron)

Duncan Dey (The Greens):   ‘I’m not a landlord and I don’t have a partner’.

Alan Hunter (Byron Alliance)

Michael Lyon

Chris McIlrath (ungrouped independent)

Asren Pugh (Labor):     1. No          2. No

Mark Swivel (Mark Swivel Team):  1. No          2. NA

Ballina Shire Council

Sharon Cadwallader (independent):        Didn’t respond.

Jeff Johnson (independent):  Didn’t respond.

Eoin Johnston (independent):        Didn’t respond.

Stephen McCarthy (independent):           Didn’t respond.

Keith Williams (Labor):‘The answer is no. Neither I nor my partner own property.’

Tweed Shire Council*

*Tweed Shire voters don’t vote for the mayor so The Echo asked council candidates instead. Those who responded are listed below, the many other candidates didn’t respond.)

Peter Cumming: ‘No and No’

Nola Firth: ‘Neither I or my partner is a landlord.’

Chris Cherry: ‘No and no’

Pryce Allsop: ‘No, we are not. We own our home and business site location’

Marianne Melinkas (Leigh Thomas ticket): ‘No, neither is my partner.’

Leigh Thomas: ‘No and no. And I am against the 365 Day short term rentals’

Merideth Dennis: ‘No’

Bill Fenelon: ‘Bill Is not a landlord, but rents in the Tweed, so he knows the pressures on that market. Bill does not share with a partner, but shares with a family member. ‘Bill believes that residents need priority for housing and that houses used for tourist accommodation should be limited to 150 days/year.’

James McKenzie: ‘I am not a landlord and am single, not renting holiday properties’

Nathan Jones: ‘I live in my own place in northern rivers (Tweed). I rent it out a for a few weeks a year when I go away.’

Reece Byrnes: ‘No and no’

Lismore City Council

Elly Bird (Our Sustainable Future):No

Darlene Cook (Labor):‘’own my house, living in it, not renting it’

Vanessa Ekins (The Greens):        1. Yes        2. No

Patrick Healy (independent):Didn’t respond.

Big Rob (independent):        Didn’t respond.






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  1. Hi Gordon,

    Nothing to hide, just didn’t see this questionaire in time. but for the record, i live in a home with my wife and two children and we have a large mortgage. We also own a rental property which we rent long term.


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