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Byron Shire
February 1, 2023

Christmas Eve protest for a 90-day cap

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Organisers of a protest rally to be held on Christmas Eve say that it’s not good enough that a week before Christmas, the State government stripped the Byron Shire of their authority to bring housing back onto the market by regulating short-term holiday lets with a 90-day cap.

After years of work Greens MP for Ballina Tamara Smith is outraged.

‘It is beyond cruel for Perrottet and his ministers to renege on the numerous promises to let the Byron Shire community reign in unfettered short-term holiday letting in a meaningful way.

Acute housing crises

‘Councils all over NSW are watching because there is an acute housing crises across regional NSW and many other communities want the ability to cap holiday letting.’

The Byron shire has the worst housing stress and lack of availability of anywhere in NSW. The rental availability is less than 1 per cent. Many community members, some of them essential workers can’t find anywhere to live.

Local paramedic Ben Gilmour said most of the paradmedics who started in the last five years do not live in Byron. They live far to the north, or south or in caravans or in very small cabins on people’s land.’

Businesses are struggling to keep their doors open, not from a lack of customers, but because of a lack of staff.

Junior staff in place of seniors

Scott Foster owns Mrs Birdy, a popular café in New Brighton. He has had an ad with TURSA for two years and only ever had two applicants. ‘It’s getting dire’ he said. ‘We are having to use junior staff in place of seniors. We have 16-year-olds running the grill.

‘It’s a family business who are simply running out of steam. And he’s not alone. Businesses all over the Byron Shire are telling the same story. Without access to availability of residential rentals, the business sector is buckling.’

This goes against the claims by STRA that a 90-day cap is bad for business. As it turns out, unregulated holiday letting is what’s bad for business.

State government upended their arrangement

Byron Shire Councillor Cate Coorey said she was shocked when the State government upended their arrangement to give the Byron Council planning authority to bring in what would have been a unanimous vote on a 90-day cap on short-term holiday letting for absentee landlords in some areas in the Byron Shire.

‘It’s pretty upsetting that the business model of STRA relies on we Byron ratepayers that don’t run holiday letting businesses to subsidise the infrastructure impacts of these enterprises.

‘To add insult to injury, we also regularly have to put up with the unwelcome noise and intrusion of these places in our neighbourhoods.

‘Everyone in Byron knows someone, or has their own story, of being evicted from the house they were renting so it could be turned into holiday letting.

‘Houses aren’t just property; they are part of a neighbourhood but there is no community if there are no neighbours. And there is still plenty of profit to be made in being a landlord.’

A unique destination

Resident and comedian, Mandy Nolan, will be MCing the protest Rally this Saturday. ‘There’s no point selling Byron as a unique destination when the creative, alternative, spirited and interesting people can’t live there anymore because they have been squeezed out.’

Greens MP for Ballina Tamara Smith, Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon, Councillor Cate Coorey, singer/songwriter Gyan and impacted community and business will also be speaking to protest the State government’s decision – Saturday, 24 December, at Apex Park in Byron Bay at 10am.

Dress as Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, a donkey, wise men, or just come as you.

Organisers say this is a legal assembly.

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