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Planning – Short-Stay Accommodation Permits

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Tags: Planning, Short Stay Accommodation

Dr WOODRUFF - Okay. I will ask some questions on behalf of Shelter Tasmania. Shelter has asked about short-stay accommodation permits. Can you please give me some information about a number of questions? And maybe you want to take these on notice, given the time.

They want to know how many short-stay properties in total and in each region of the state are exempt from the permit system and the reasons for those exemptions. How many properties have permits and how many don't have permits in each region?

Where owners claim that they don't need a permit, how many have been checked in the last financial year?

And what is the oversight process for confirming that no permit is required?

Mr FERGUSON - Let's go through them one at a time. Before we do, Chair, I'd like to provide to the committee the fact sheet that I indicated earlier.

Let's allow my supporters to respond to them one at a time.

Dr WOODRUFF - How many short-stay properties in total and by north, north west and southern regions are exempt from the permit system and for what reasons?

Mr RISBY - Thanks, minister. The information, Dr Woodruff, is all contained in the reports that are published by CBOS, and available on their website.

Mr FERGUSON - Can I just assist the committee? Would it be okay if you would simply indicate to Dr Woodruff as she asks each question if that data is in that report, and if it is not we will take it on notice.

Mr RISBY - I will attempt to do that, minister; although we are not responsible for these reports.

Mr FERGUSON - I know.

Mr RISBY - I am not across the detail.

Mr FERGUSON - CBOS is collecting that, not SPU. We will do our best; but if it's in the report that is there we will refer you to. If it's not in the report, we may yet refer you back to CBOS, if that is there where the data is stored.

Dr WOODRUFF - I asked the first one; but Mr Risby is trying to see if he can work his way through someone else's report.

Mr RISBY - I think the answer to the first question, if I understand you correctly is, how many are exempt? And the report won't tell us how many are exempt - because they are exempt.

Mr FERGUSON - You can't capture data that does not exist.

Dr WOODRUFF - You do not have to make an application for exemption, you just do not need to make an application.

Mr RISBY - Exactly. There is a reporting mechanism through the platforms where the proponent of a short stay accommodation does have to indicate whether they are exempt or not, but I am not across the reporting to be able to tell you whether that is captured or not.

Ms DOW - Through you, Chair. Would councils have that information?

Mr RISBY - The information is all collected by CBOS, based on what the platforms provide. It would be there somewhere. If we go back to what the exemption is, it's the genuine home-sharing of a room or two in the house.

Dr WOODRUFF - They are all stated.

Mr RISBY - They don't need permits. The reporting process through the Short Stay Accommodation Act 2019 is to require the platforms to seek the advice from the operators as to whether they do have a permit or not and if they do not, to indicate that they are exempt. You could certainly calculate how many are exempt, and through the reports, you could get that stuff. I am a bit at sea here, frankly. This is not our area to monitor.

Dr WOODRUFF - Okay. Through you, Minister, does that report note where owners of short stay properties don't have to claim a permit? How many of those properties have been checked over the recent financial years, where owners of short stay properties claim that no permit is required? They claim that they don't need to have a permit. They are basically saying "we are exempt, we haven't made an application". Are they checked?

Mr RISBY - The information is provided to the local councils that are the planning authority, so that they can then make checks on whether the information provided is accurate against their records for permits. As the planning authority, it's their job to enforce those things irrespective of the Short Stay Accommodation Act.

Dr WOODRUFF - So, that comes under you, minister, as the planning minister, does it? What is the oversight process, was their last question.

Mr FERGUSON - It comes down to the local planning authority, actually. It might be the Huon Council. It might be the Flinders Island Council.

Dr WOODRUFF - Okay, but there is no data collection that can be collected together statewide about that matter?

Mr FERGUSON - Yes; but I think your question was, what data does the state Government hold in relation to how many properties were checked. We don't have that information. I suppose I'm saying that the only way to obtain it would be to ask the local planning authority.

Dr WOODRUFF - Okay. There isn't a designated oversight process that is written into the planning scheme that the planning authority is required to perform to confirm that no permit is required. Is that correct?

Mr RISBY - Well, the planning legislation requires a local council - as the planning authority - to enforce its planning scheme. Whether a permit is required is a matter for the planning scheme. The Short Stay Accommodation Act reports on those. It doesn't in itself require the permits. That is the planning legislation.

Dr WOODRUFF - Okay. Thank you, Mr Risby. Minister, can you see that there is a gap here in what we understand is actually happening with short stay accommodation. Everyone in Tasmania knows it is a very difficult issue. The more information we have to guide us about what's happening in the housing market, the better. Can you see that there is a role here? Will you commit to investigating the appropriate role of you, as planning minister, in bringing that information together and making sure that there are some things within the planning scheme that require councils to - or, that there are some checking mechanisms, essentially, to make sure that that work is being done; other than just they are required to enforce their planning scheme.

Mr FERGUSON - Not only that; it is open to councils as the responsible planning authority for a particular community to do its own checks and particularly if there is a complaint or a concern that is raised by somebody to then follow it up. Councils have the power to do that.

I'm happy to obtain advice on whether that is a proper role for the state Government. I suspect it is not, because it is a designated role for the local planning authority.

I will provide to the committee the most recent report which is as at quarter three, 2021; but I am advised that the ninth report will also be released shortly. I imagine that will be released by CBOSS under the Department of Justice.