AIRBNB has shut the door on "unfair" plans to force more than 19,000 Queensland home-owners to pay council-imposed tourism levies when they rent their properties out to holidaymakers.
The online booking agency has confirmed it will fight a bid to have online booking agencies hand over clients' street addresses to local governments wanting to stop short-term accommodation providers cashing in on regional tourism promotions because they do not contribute to them.
Most Queensland councils have a tourism levy that registered holiday businesses contribute to.
The levies are used to promote local government areas to tourists in Australia and overseas.
The move, which requires State Government legislation, also means unregistered short-term holiday landlords would to have to adhere to local laws imposed on registered tourism operators.
Noosa Shire Council is leading the charge, saying it has asked Airbnb and other online booking outlets to provide addresses but they refuse to do so.
The council believes there are more than 2000 unregistered short-term accommodation providers in Noosa and if they all paid the minimum levy of $60 the shire would receive an extra $120,000 a year for its promotions fund.
However, Airbnb said it would fight any move to have it hand over its 19,000 Queensland clients' addresses.
"If they (councils) want to pursue back-to-the-future innovation-denying policies our community will fight to protect their rights," Airbnb ANZ public policy head Brent Thomas told NewsRegional.
Noosa council will table the idea at the coming Local Government Association of Queensland conference and there are hopes the LGAQ will use its lobbying power to get the State Government on board.
Council representatives from across the state will converge on Gladstone from October 16-18 for the conference where this and many other ideas will be debated.
If there is widespread support for the council's idea at the conference, the LGAQ will then advocate on behalf of all local governments at the state level.
Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said there were a number of issues stemming from unregistered holiday accommodation providers including:
- Owners avoiding local tourism levies and council infrastructure charges that are paid by registered operators.
- Fewer long-term residential rentals on the market.
- An over-supply of short-term rentals leading to to an increase in homelessness; and
- A major impact on property prices.
Cr Wellington said often councils only found out residential homes were being rented to holidaymakers when someone made a complaint.
"We need in a planning sense to get a handle on this," Cr Wellington said.
"It's about working out how we move forward to ensure everything works for residents and visitors."
Airbnb said it was "injecting $200 million into the economy and creating 2000 local jobs" across Queensland.
Mr Thomas said the organisation supported a tourism or bed tax "to support local infrastructure and communities" but only if it was levied on all accommodation providers.
"It would be wholly unfair if any tourism or bed tax was selectively paid by some accommodation providers and not others," Mr Thomas said.
"If mayors want to pursue innovative and forward-looking policies, we are keen to work with them."
NewsRegional asked the Queensland Government to comment specifically on this issue and others to be raised at the LGAQ conference, but it refused to do so.
Instead a government spokeswoman said: "The Palaszczuk Government has an excellent working relationship with local councils throughout Queensland and their representative body, the LGAQ."
"For instance, we worked with LGAQ to reinstate the Financial Aid program to benefit indigenous councils,"she said.
"I know our ministers meet regularly with the LGAQ and local councils on a regular basis.
"In regards to the motions being put forward at the LGAQ conference in October, we will look at each of the motions passed and work with the councils and community to see great outcomes for all Queenslanders regardless of their location.
"The Government does not want to pre-empt the LGAQ conference and the views of delegates on the motions."
BY THE NUMBERS
Airbnb in Queensland:
- Number of accommodation listings: 19,000.
- Average number of nights hosted a year: 34 nights.
- Average length of stay per guest: four nights.
Love me tender and give me flexibility says Sunshine Coast Council
THE Sunshine Coast could become the state's digital and technological leader if the Queensland Government accepts its bid for a more flexible approach to tenders that don't meet current regulatory guidelines.
The region's council is calling for an immediate review of the legislative and regulatory framework for local government procurement so that it is "more agile and adaptive to a constantly evolving digital environment, more responsive to innovative proposals and products, and can be better utilised by councils to support start-ups and entrepreneurialism".
It will table the issue at the Local Government Association of Queensland annual conference this month.
Sunshine Coast Council said the current framework for local governments had a range of issues including affording "little scope for agile procurement responses to new and emerging issues".
It also constrained flexibility on how councils sourced and considered proposals that did not fit the one size fits all approach "in a complex and rapidly evolving digital environment".
"We are all aware of instances where councils have been unable to accept or evaluate non-conforming tenders and submissions because they are not compliant with our procurement specifications," the council said in the LGAQ conference agenda.
"However, in a rapidly evolving digital environment, the market is often better placed to advise on better tailored and more appropriate solutions that councils may not have contemplated when initially calling for tenders and quotations.
"There is clear evidence that start-ups and entrepreneurialism is more likely to flourish where the business or entrepreneur is afforded the opportunity to demonstrate what they can produce and how they can solve a problem - rather than simply be given a grant."
The Queensland Government refused to address the concerns raised by the council on this issue.
LGAQ CONCEPTS THAT WILL DIRECTLY IMPACT US
- Noosa Council wants the State Government to formulate a clear policy and response to the use of residential properties for short-term accommodation facilitated by online booking agencies. This would require the online booking agencies to provide councils with property addresses so that they can help to ensure properties comply with appropriate planning schemes and rating requirements. There would also be consideration of the long-term impact on local communities including the availability of rental accommodation stock, impact on housing affordability, impact on local amenity and potential impact on existing tourism properties.
- Sunshine Coast Council wants the State Government to undertake an immediate review of the legislative and regulatory framework for local government procurement so that it is more agile and adaptive to a constantly evolving digital environment, more responsive to innovative proposals and products, and can be better utilised by councils to support start-ups and entrepreneurialism.
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