“We need a fairer, more level playing field”: Pressure prompts short stay enquiry

Western Australia will hold a parliamentary inquiry into regulation of the state’s short-stay accommodation industry.

The move follows pressure from the state’s licensed short-stay businesses for action to regulate the booming Airbnb sector.

The Australian Hotels Association has been vociferous in its campaign for legislation over unregulated short-stays, and Airbnb has long said it supports fair state-wide regulation.

State planning minister Rita Saffioti said the inquiry, supported by Labor and Liberal members, would aim for a bipartisan plan on the regulation of the industry.

It will look at issues such as customer safety, insurance, land use planning, building standards, stay length, neighbourhood amenity, registration, licensing and taxation.

“We are now one step closer to having fair rules for home sharing in Western Australia, just like there are in New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia,” said Airbnb public policy head Brent Thomas.

“Our community has long argued the current rules for home sharing are out of date and acting as a handbrake on growth. The way people travel and use their homes has changed, and the rules should change as well.

“We will urge the inquiry to back the local families and small businesses who rely on Airbnb. The law should support what is good for voters – not vested interests.”

Those vested interests include regional accom operators who say their businesses are threatened by the competition from unregulated short-stay properties.

Australian Hotels Association WA CEO Bradley Woods last week ramped up pressure for an inquiry by outlining a five-point proposal to tackle what he labelled the “disease” of unregulated short stays.

“The AHA is hopeful the committee can deliver bipartisan recommendations that protect the state’s hotel industry and the tens of thousands of Western Australians who rely on the sector for their jobs,” he said of the inquiry.

Airbnb figures show there are 11,500 WA properties listed on the platform. 

Shadow Tourism Minister Libby Mettam welcomed the inquiry decision, saying the WA government needed to consider the interests of accommodation providers and the state’s tourism industry.

“While there are outstanding issues where hotels and resorts are competing with operators without the same sort of compliance burdens, we also don’t want people who are renting out their back room to have prohibitive regulatory standards imposed on them,” she said.

“This inquiry is an opportunity to have a committee of the parliament test ideas with the industry and to report back to the parliament and then government.

“We need a fairer, more level playing field, which could mean either expanding the regulatory framework or making it easier for mainstream accommodation providers.”

She said associations like the Registered Accommodation Providers of the Margaret River Region had been instrumental in the decision to undertake the inquiry.

“I would expect that they will be a key part of the inquiry going forward,” she acknowledged.

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