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Housing Crisis - Regulation of Short Stay Accommodation

13 June 2018

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

Are you aware of the UTAS Institute for Social Change's recently released research that demonstrates the significant and still growing impact of the short stay accommodation market on rental availability and affordability? The data reveals that between July 2016 and February 2018 an extra 2200 properties were listed on Airbnb and it is clear we have not yet reached peak Airbnb. The report confirms the majority of these listings are whole properties that would otherwise have been available for rental to Tasmanians. Further, the report states that the growth in Airbnb is driving up rents.

Do you agree a pause on new permits is needed? What is your Government's plan to rein in the explosion of Airbnb at the expense of Tasmanians needing a home?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. Yes, I am aware of the body of work to which she refers. It is a piece of work that can inform policy decisions and ensure they are based on evidence, facts and data. It is one of the reasons why, following our housing summit, we have also sought to have short-stay accommodation providers contribute to an audit of properties currently utilised or that may be utilised in that form to truly understand the extent of the issue to which the member refers.

It is one element of our housing market and it is simplistic for anyone to suggest it is in isolation the reason for homelessness or housing stress. It is one element we are addressing as a government and will continue to do so, including as recently as last week, responding to the TPC findings and recommendations to ensure the decisions we make are based on evidence, facts and data, not just on a hunch.

The Leader of the Greens, who asked the question, by her own admission, was reported in the paper the other day as saying, 'It is not going to fix the problem.' It is acknowledged this will not address all issues. It is one element. There is work being done. I understand comments this morning on the radio from peak organisations who are calling for the state, government and community to ensure that our decisions are based on evidence to make sure that we are properly informed.

Dr Woodruff - This is evidence.

Mr HODGMAN - It is one perspective. In our view it is not necessarily conclusive or all the evidence that we should get as a government to make the right decisions. I note the other element of the coalition now chipping in because it is another one of their simplistic responses to a complex policy issue. It is easy in opposition to be all care and no responsibility.

Governments should base their decisions, not on hunches or anecdotal evidence or whatever might have a political ring to it, but what will make a material difference. That is what we are doing.

Ms O'Connor - It is hard data.

Mr HODGMAN - It requires the right data and sensible analysis. There does seem to be a shift in policy position by the Greens who are becoming increasingly more aligned and familiar with their coalition partners, the Labor Party, when you do not know what they stand for or what they believe. Cheap political points is obviously something you believe in and you are keen on. Believing in your policy positions seems to be getting more confusing by the day.

I pointed out the hypocrisy of the Greens yesterday with former Senator Brown happily wanting to fly across wilderness areas that he wants no one else to have access to. I inform the House of what was previously Greens policy position on this very subject. Former Greens leader, Nick McKim, in this place back in 2015, lauded the benefits of the sharing economy. He said it is turning a generation of interconnected people into entrepreneurs. There is more he said that is of some interest. Greens Senator Nick McKim said in his inaugural speech in the federal parliament, and I quote -

The opportunities that come from the sharing economy will shift people away from welfare and into economic independence. The free-flow of information and data will protect consumers and reduce regulatory burden on governments, freeing up more money for the delivery of essential public services.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. It goes to relevance. There are people sleeping on the Domain at the moment and the Premier is citing a speech from three years ago and not going to the issue. Liberal members are laughing during a question about the housing crisis.

Madam SPEAKER - Premier, please confine your debate to the current question.

Mr HODGMAN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. With respect, it is. It goes to Greens policy on this issue. Today they are going to argue that we should suddenly freeze any activity in this space. Three years ago, Greens Leader Senator Nick McKim said -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The Premier has misrepresented the question. We are talking about whole properties and a pause on whole properties being listed so that people are not shut out of the rental market. Listen to the question.

Mr BARNETT - Madam Speaker, on the point of order, it is clearly not a point of order. She is debating the argument, debating the motion. She has made no reference to a standing order. It is not a point of order and I ask you to rule it out of order entirely.

Madam SPEAKER - Thank you. It is not a point of order. Premier, could you wind up, please.

Mr HODGMAN - I want to conclude the observations of Senator Nick McKim, Greens member, to highlight the division between the Greens Party. He said, and I quote -

The Greens will be right there advocating for more support, less protectionism and the lightest possible regulatory touch.

This shows again that it is political chameleonship at its very best. The Greens say one thing one day, then another the next. They have willing supporters in the Labor Party.