Big win for residents in parliamentary vote
The Owners Corporation Amendment (Short Stay Accommodation) Bill 2016 has been referred back to the Environment and Planning Committee for inquiry.
The parliamentary vote has stopped the Victorian Government from introducing a Bill that would only benefit commercial short-stay operators.
This is a huge win for the We Live Here movement which has been working tirelessly with politicians from all sides of Parliament to achieve this outcome.
A special thank-you to David Davis, Shadow Minister for Planning, Russell Northe, Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs, along with Nina Springle from the Greens and Fiona Patten from the Sex Party who all supported the We Live Here movement on this issue.
The Legislative Council vote
On November 8, the Legislative Council voted overwhelmingly to block the Bill and open up the opportunity for community and stakeholder consultation – consultation that the government should have offered from the outset.
Mr O’Donohue, the Liberal Member for Eastern Victoria, proposed a motion to send the Bill to the Committee for Environment and Planning for inquiry and report, on the grounds of inadequate community and stakeholder consultation.
The Labor Government shocked Victorian apartment owners on May 24, 2016 when, with no prior notice given, it introduced the Bill in the Lower House through the former Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett.
The decision by the Legislative Council now prevents this Bill from passing into law, and represents a victory in the on-going push by community groups to ensure that short-term commercial accommodation becomes a regulated industry.
The inquiry by the Committee for Environment and Planning must complete its report by March 7 next year and table it with the Legislative Committee for further debate.
In Parliament, Mr Davis said: “It [short-stay accommodation] is a very important part of our tourism industry, but it is an area where there needs to be better regulations. Untrammelled access can lead to very poor lifestyle and living outcomes ...”
Speaking on behalf of the Sex Party and in support of the blocking of the passage of the Bill, Ms Fiona Patten MP said the vote was a wake-up call for the government to realise the benefit of “clear and effective regulation” of commercial short-stays.
Greens MP Nina Springle expressed the concerns of residents who “foot the bill” for the increased costs caused by the commercial short-stay industry. Apartment buildings “were not designed as hotels” she told Parliament.
Members of the We Live Here movement were present in Parliament to witness the debate having canvassed the support of political parties on either side of the divide including the crossbenchers.
Barbara Francis, a director of We Live Here said: “We are very pleased with this decision, and are very proud to represent the nearly one million residents in apartment buildings in Victoria in continuing to advocate for serious regulation of the commercial short-stay industry.”
“We have tried to schedule meetings with the Consumer Affairs Minister(s) and advisers on many occasions, but they were not interested in engaging with residents and owners.”
“Finally, by the blocking of this Bill and sending it back to the drawing board, we will have an opportunity to have our voice heard. The onus is now on the Labor Government to engage with the community, and this time to get the balance right with any proposed legislation.”
Prior to the election all 59 candidates were sent a survey by We Live Here to canvas their opinions on the issue of commercial short stays.
An excellent response of almost 86 per cent was received and all but one of the teams supported the regulation of short stays in residential buildings. The one exception was the team headed by former councillor Stephen Mayne who subsequently failed in his re-election bid.
It appears that ex-councillor Mayne, the self-proclaimed most pro-development former councillor, paid the price for not listening to concerns raised by us and other resident groups.
He has since declared that he has learned his lesson, that to ignore residents groups is a good way to get dumped off council!
The final make-up of the council is not yet known but we look forward to working with them all on issues involving residents in the City of Melbourne.
You can support the We Live Here movement by registering on our website at welivehere.net.
Contributions are also welcome and can be made online.