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Short Stay Accommodation Bill 2018 (No 66)

[5.25 P.M.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I appreciated the briefings on this bill provided this morning. This bill is part of the equation to carefully analyse and monitor short stay accommodation in Tasmania and provides a coordinated approach for collecting information on it.

It is important we get the balance right, given the acute housing crisis we are facing. It must also be accepted that it is not just caused by short stay accommodation. We heard in the briefing it is also caused by population growth, plus challenges in workforce availability.

The information provided will assist us to look towards the future and understand current challenges. The bill is about developing a robust permit regime, what properties are being used for and for what purpose. It should yield fairly comprehensive data on the extent of the industry in the state and also the way it is changing rapidly. I believe we need to be vigilant and see how it is to be implemented and resourced because I have concerns with regard to local councils, given their limited resources.

I note that the member for Mersey read out the section from LGAT, from Katrena Stephenson, and I think it is worth repeating. She states - However, it is not within the current resources of local councils to undertake the necessary work to determine what new short stay accommodation places have been established in their local area and whether they need a planning permit.

The need for communications resourcing and community understanding is critical. Like many in this place, I have been on a local council. I was deputy mayor of Launceston City Council. As the member for Mersey stated, the amount of work required may look quite simple.

I note it was said this morning that the Director of Building Control will be responsible for enforcement. However, councils will need to determine the compliance with the planning requirements to provide a better understanding of the extent of short stay accommodation in Tasmania.

I recall comments from a couple councils previously when we were discussing short stay accommodation - and this has nothing to do with our current committee - prior to starting our committee, that they tried to find out where places were and it was very difficult. It was so time-consuming as well. I believe even to go with what we have got here, to actually have something to compare, the people hours and the time involved will be considerable.

While I accept that the Director of Building Control is responsible for one area of enforcement, it will be very onerous for local councils to undertake their proportion or the part that they are expected to play. It will be interesting to see how they cope, whether they can cope. I am quite sure they will have to employ new people, even for a period of time.

You might answer this for me, Leader: if local councils find that with their current resources they are unable to implement what is necessary here, would the Government be prepared to actually assist them? I am quite sure they would have difficulty, regardless of the size of their council. In summary, LGAT support this as well as Shelter Tasmania and TasCOSS because they see a need for data.

I have to be very careful I make a very short contribution because I certainly do not want to accidentally veer into anything from our committee, which would be really easy to do.

I understand it is not a difficult matter for the platforms to be able to provide the data. It was something they preferred not to do, but I am really pleased they have come on board and are willing to undertake that. This morning education was discussed and how people will know and will find out what they have to do.

It is important we provide information for operators and hosts so they know what they have to do, which will assist in meeting council planning requirements - whether you receive them, whether you need a planning permit or do not, whether you have fewer than four bedrooms or more than four bedrooms. It is all a learning curve, and I am sure it will be for councils. It certainly will be for many of the people who are now in short stay accommodation.

We may find that even if it is not overly onerous, some people may find it too difficult and perhaps will go back to long-term rental, letting the properties for long-term rental. We were also told the bill focuses on residential zones across the state and that evidence collected under the legislation will provide a sound foundation for any adjustments in the future.

It needs to be evidence-based; this is about getting the evidence before we look at what might need to be changed. I thank the Government for putting this up. It fits quite well with the inquiry we have coming. I support the bill.

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