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We Live Here

14 Dec 2017

Open letter to the Premier of Victoria

Dear Mr Andrews,

On Friday December 8, your government is required to table a response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Owners Corporations Amendment (Short-stay Accommodation) Bill 2016.

This open letter from “We Live Here” is a means of telling you why, from the moment it was announced on May 23, 2016 by the former Minister for Consumer Affairs, we determined to oppose the Bill. It was through our campaigning that the Bill was ultimately defeated in the Upper House and led to the Inquiry.

Why don’t we like the Bill?

When you came into government in 2014 you said that you had listened to CBD residents and were fulfilling an election commitment to deal with noisy parties and unruly behaviour in apartments being rented out for short-stays. Who were the CBD residents you listened to?

You also said that the 2016 announcement followed months of consultation with stakeholders and industry on recommendations made by an independent panel into short-stay accommodation.

Why was there no consultation with long-term residents who bought into strata communities believing it was going to be their home? Aren’t we the real stakeholders?

Were you not aware that in 2011, three years before you came into government the City of Melbourne, having identified a problem with apartments being used for quasi hotel-style accommodation in residential buildings decided to test it out before the Building Appeals Board using Watergate Apartments in Docklands as a test case?

For six years through various courts and tribunals culminating in a landmark decision handed down by Mr Justice Riorden in the Supreme Court in July 2016 (six weeks after the introduction of your Bill) which ruled that owners’ corporations did not have the power to make rules about use of a lot, the door is now open for all strata buildings to be taken over by short-stays including Airbnb, rooming houses, etc.

If powers are not quickly restored to OCs to make rules about their building we could rapidly become a city of ghettoes in the sky. Dealing with party houses is not the answer.

The earlier actions, although ultimately unsuccessful - all on legal grounds not on evidence – between them have clarified the legal situation, i.e. the only way to regulate the burgeoning and unregulated short-stay industry is through changes to legislation and planning laws.

This is what “We Live Here” is asking for and why we came into being almost two years ago – to provide a voice for residents who are, frankly, being ignored in the whole debate.

Mr Andrews you must be aware that governments around the world are grappling with the issue of short-stays in residential buildings and the various means of regulation being adopted by New York, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, etc.

You now have an amazing opportunity to put Melbourne on the map by proactively implementing regulation before the whole issue gets totally out of hand here.

“We Live Here” with a supporter base including 200 buildings throughout the greater Melbourne area, is a voice for reason. We believe there is a place for all the stakeholders including the tourism industry, commercial short-stay operators, booking platforms such as Airbnb, Stayz, etc. However, for there to be level playing field, residents must also have an equal voice.

“We Live Here” is requesting a seat at the table for what could be historic discussions that would really put Melbourne firmly on the map as one of the world’s most liveable cities.

So, whilst you deliberate on your response to the parliamentary inquiry we invite you to consider the bigger picture.

We look forward to your reply.

“We Live Here”

Cladding Taskforce update

At a recent meeting with the CEO of the Victorian Cladding Task Force “We Live Here”, represented by four members of the team, was provided with the following update:

“The Taskforce Interim Report has been provided to the Minister for Planning and the report is expected to be made public soon. “We Live Here” will be notified when this occurs.

The taskforce is currently preparing an audit methodology and rectification strategy for the non-compliant use of cladding on Victorian buildings. Due to the scale and complexity of the work, this could take some time.

Because of significant consumer concern about potentially unsafe cladding, the taskforce has published an advisory note for the benefit of residents, owners, owners corporations and building managers. A link to the advisory note PDF can be found on the taskforce webpage at: planning.vic.gov.au/building-policy/victorian-cladding-taskforce

For information about some work that is happening at a national level, see Building Minister’s Forum at tinyurl.com/ya9ny35k”

Campaign donations

As a not-for-profit organisation, donations from individuals and buildings keep our campaigns going. To register as a supporter of “We Live Here” or to make a donation please visit our website at welivehere.net

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

You can reach us at campaign@welivehere.net.au. “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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