Byron deserves better than Byron Deserves Better (full page ads in recent Echo).
A slogan, incidentally, that came directly and – savour the irony – was devised by the community opponents of the West Byron mega-development but has now been seconded by the Airbnb lobby as a sort of folksy smokescreen to somehow garner popular sympathy for their campaign. The ‘it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to’ lobby, the ‘open-slather in the tropics / go the Bay’ lobby, and ‘to hell with anyone or anything that gets in their way’ lobby. There are a proportion of people who are genuinely doing Airbnb as a legitimate way to cover big mortgages and cover their costs. This is totally understandable, but it is the pointy end of the deal. Those Airbnb investors who have multiple properties and have purchased them specifically to turn a profit… mostly absentee landlords… and, to put it parochially, who are ‘rolling in it’… those property investors who seem oblivious or choose not to look at the very serious damage this is having on the community fabric (particularly on low- and middle-income earners)… and one has to sadly conclude that they simply don’t seem to give a stuff and are doing this at a time when the community is already in the throes of an unprecedented housing / accommodation crisis and post a record-breaking flood that has displaced and left so many people either homeless, couch surfing, or even having to sleep in their cars or in tents in the bush. Those investors who are buying up properties at an exponential rate are jacking up the rents and milking it for everything they can get.
Mayor Lyon and the Byron Council have been more than fair and generous in attempting to get a solution to this problem by restricting the 90-day cap to areas, mainly residential, that are obviously well outside the traditional coastal holiday zone. Yet this lobby group are still jumping up and down, going to the media and whingeing that their already astronomical profits are somehow under threat! It’s actually shameful, to the point of embarrassment, to hear their cynical whining about ‘local government interference’ or their unfettered ‘freedom to do what we want with our properties’ brigade. Well guys, just in case you’ve forgotten, this is still a community where the currency is not all about how many money bags you can drag into the back of your limousine. The community itself is our real currency, our most valuable asset. Byron has a proud record of activism and caring and it really does take a special level of gall and a unique sense of entitlement to witness this lobby doing a dummy spit when the community says ‘hey, slow down… this is getting a little bit out of hand’. Byron really does deserve better, much much better than that!
Please sign the petition at www.change.org/p/byron-deserves-balance.