Saturday, November 17, 2018

MP labels Airbnb opponents “nutjobs”, “a-holes” and “rent-seekers”

An MP who wrote an article criticising state plans to crackdown on Airbnb has branded his opponents “nutjobs”, “a-holes” and “rent-seekers”.

According to The Age newspaper, WA state MP Aaron Stonehouse made the comments about people who had called his office to complain over an article he wrote in the West Australian supporting the home-share platform.

He also allegedly defended his policy of not taking phone calls from constituents and confirmed his staff were not authorised to take phone messages on his behalf.

The Liberal Democratic Party member provoked a heated response from the accommodation industry after he published the op-ed defending Airbnb and criticising the state government’s plans to crack down on the unregulated sector.

He told The Age: “In regards to the Airbnb article, that generated a few enquiries and I had a couple of people call in asking to talk to me about it.

“Generally speaking, I don’t have a lot of time for rent-seekers.”

Mr Stonehouse said two of the callers had been “a bit nasty to his staff”, describing one as “frankly a nutjob and an a-hole”.

“If they were the ones who called up and were rude over the phone, then I don’t have time for people that are rude to my staff anyway,” he said.

“If it’s those people complaining, they can get stuffed.”

The MP, who represents the South Metro region, said he told accommodation representatives he would not meet with them while there was no legislation before parliament.

He did, however, find time to run a forum on the dangers facing South African farmers, which is also not before the state legislature.

“It’s a pressing issue and literally people are dying. Constituents of mine have family and friends abroad and they want to bring them over and help these people,” he said.

“In terms of short-stay accommodation, well, there’s nothing pressing. There’s no actual reform on the table.”

His comments contradict those of the Australian Hotels Association, which this week stepped up pressure on the WA government for short-stay curbs arguing the unprecedented growth in unregulated Airbnbs was “putting thousands of jobs in WA at risk”.

“It is time for policymakers to recognise the scale of the problem confronting legitimate, registered and licensed accommodation providers and implement meaningful regulations to protect jobs with the hotel industry – a sector so critical to WA’s economy,” said the association’s WA CEO Bradley Woods.

“The lack of regulation and enforcement of the short-stay accommodation market is imposing great harm on small and family-run businesses, undermining investment in WA hotels and placing thousands of employment and training opportunities at risk.

“Unregulated short-stay accommodation is not only disrupting but diseasing the hotel industry and it needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Mr Woods is proposing a five-point plan to regulate, license and control the home-sharing sector which includes:

  1. Only a host’s primary residence may be listed for sharing.
  2. Listing of entire properties for stays of fewer than 14 days prohibited.
  3. Harmonise fire, safety, building code and insurance requirements with hotel industry.
  4. Home-sharing properties must be registered, to enable compliance monitoring.
  5. Registration fee payable, to fund administration and compliance monitoring.

“In the absence of any meaningful regulation, online short stay accommodation platforms that list unregistered properties are not just disrupting, but diseasing the hotel industry,” Mr Woods said.

“There are simply too many Western Australians who rely on the accommodation sector for their ongoing employment to allow this regulatory inequity to continue.”

The state government is in the process of developing its policy on short-stay accommodation.

WA Planning Minister Rita Saffioti was approached by Accomnews earlier this week about a timescale for legislation, but failed to respond by time of publication.

About Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson
Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions: [email protected]

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2 comments

  1. Aaron Stonehouse’s poor form in dealing with the legitimacy of Airbnb’s interloping and supporting the bypassing of regulatory and compliance processes to run an accommodation infrastructure can be misconstrued as lacking in experience and also when proposing a “laissez faire” economy (free market) where “let the buyer beware” is encouraged, one starts to question his agenda. No doubt Stonehouse’s self opinionated views may well be interpreted as ignorant due to his vintage or perhaps unrealistic when one analyses his thoughts which are well documented. I can only hope he serves his constituency well especially those who abide by regulatory protocols and talks to those members of the public/constituents who seek to advise or even support his views. As the CEO of the WA AHA Bradley Woods rightly says “Airbnb is diseasing the hotel industry”. The sooner a policy is formulated by all Governments the better and maybe just maybe the Airbnb platform can be legitimized……NHI

  2. There are fair comments on both sides of the discussion, but there is also a quantum leap in these arguments between the small or individual short-stay hosts and the hotel industry.

    Prior to the recent growth of Airbnb, there were, and still are, many large, professional accommodation businesses that employ and accommodate thousands of people across the country in short to medium-stay properties; but they are not hotels. (It should also be noted that Airbnb is just one on many platforms that these businesses advertise on).

    To make the suggestion that the number of short-stay properties should be limited to the one primary residence of the owner is ludicrous. It’s like saying “hotels should only have one room”!

    If a line needs to be drawn somewhere in this discussion, perhaps it should be between the professional hotels and accommodation businesses (with proper insurances, industry memberships and codes of conduct, and tax returns) that accommodate multiple guests in multiple rooms or properties, and those ‘Mum and Dad’ spare rooms or one-off investment properties, that are mostly unregulated, inadequately insured and untaxed.

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