Privy Council gets it, Andrews doesn’t

By We Live Here

The Privy Council in London has unanimously ruled that strata corporations may enforce by-laws to restrict short-term letting.

Last month, the Lordships found that the by-law-making power of a strata corporation is very wide, and any by-law that purports to restrict the use of a lot for “residential purposes” is valid. Short-term use by holiday-makers changes the character of the use of a lot, and that type of use is clearly different from residential use.

Daniel Andrews please take note!

This decision reignites the debate that owners’ corporations may legitimately enforce by-laws to restrict their lots to residential use, if they carefully draft their by-laws.

The Supreme Court decision in Balcombe might not now be considered as having settled the matter in Victoria. Leading strata lawyer, Tom Bacon said: “While the Privy Council decision is not legally binding here in Australia, it should be viewed as persuasive, and should not be set aside without a principled reason to distinguish it.”

Victorian Government response to the short stay Bill inquiry – a cop out!

The state Labor government’s response to the findings of the Parliamentary inquiry into short stays, released in November 2017, is extremely disappointing.

The government has ignored all the recommendations of the inquiry conducted by a cross-party committee that included government members – and is planning to reintroduce the original bill in February 2018, with a review to be undertaken in two years!

This is a cop-out and plays right into the hands of Airbnb, a company that claims it partnered with the government in the introduction of the Bill.  Not surprisingly, Airbnb’s Australian head of policy described the Bill on ABC radio as the best legislation in the world! Well of course if you help to formulate a Bill you’d say it was good, wouldn’t you?

Why did the government utterly discount the findings of the inquiry which said the Bill was unfair to residents, whilst seeking to pass the least-restrictive short-term letting regulations anywhere in the world?

Why couldn’t the Andrews government take the time to investigate the issues properly, as authorities have already done in New York, San Francisco, London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris and other large cities where short-term letting is prevalent and tearing fragile local residential communities apart, but where lessons have been learned and regulation and restrictions have been introduced?

Why must Melbourne, the world’s most liveable city, always learn its lessons the hard way? Why don’t our leaders show the way as to how it can be done?

We Live Here has long been advocating for regulations that balance the interests of the tourism industry, hotel industry, short-stay accommodation providers, including booking platforms such as Airbnb and Stayz, and residents living in high rise communities and elsewhere where everyday lives are being severely compromised by the rampant unregulated growth of short-stays.

There must be a level playing field and residents must have a voice. The Owners Corporation Bill does nothing to assist the process and with no changes contemplated for at least two years inner city high-rise communities could be decimated, as the government, by its decision has determined that residents don’t matter.

Twenty-five per cent of the Victorian population live in apartment buildings and We Live Here now represent more than 200 apartment buildings across Melbourne.

We are urging the Premier to stop supporting Airbnb – which is based overseas, and is not paying local taxes – and start listening to the concerns of residents about safety, security, rising maintenance costs and a loss of community.

Sign the government’s petition page

We are asking that you, our supporters, sign the petition on the Victorian Parliamentary website, via the following link:

and let the government know :

The Bill in its current form is totally unacceptable;

The recommended amendments must be acted on now not in two years’ time; and

Residents must not be ignored any more.

The petition is planned to be tabled in the Legislative Council in late February 2018, so please do not delay and sign now.

Fishermans Bend going under?

Martin Foley’s political career might yet be saved by an innovative proposal that would see the tramline connecting the city with Fishermans Bend going under water using the LaTrobe St tram corridor. Prebuilt, immersed tubes would be anchored to the sea bed without the need for tunnelling.

This alternative solution has been proposed by Yarra’s Edge resident, Keith Sutherland following a groundswell of objection to a low tram bridge from Collins St to Lorimer St, referred to in the Fishermans Bend Draft Plan.

The current proposed tram crossing of Lorimer St defies logic, Mr Sutherland said, considering the Andrews government is spending millions in eradicating existing tram and train crossings and we need to look to future transport options, not replicate out-dated transport that has served the state well in the past.

“If the current proposal is adopted by the Andrews government it will become a major election issue in November,” Mr Sutherland said, “And the various groups fighting the low tram bridge could determine the election outcome.”

“We will be seeking election promises from all parties and politicians not to proceed with the current bridge proposal.”

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We Live Here does not accept donations from commercial tourism interests.

You can reach us at [email protected]. We Live Here members can make a presentation to your owners’ corporation committee upon request.

We welcome your comments and feedback, and invite suggestions for topics you would like us to address in this column.

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