Tourism

Shorten says it’s time to share

Hannah Edensor

Sensible regulation of the sharing economy is high on the list for Labor, and Tourism Accommodation Australia is backing Bill Shorten’s call.

As Australia’s peak accommodation industry body, TAA is encouraging Shorten to follow through on his intentions to clear up the ‘grey areas’ concerning the regulation of the sharing economy, given its recent surge in popularity.

This follows numerous submissions by TAA highlighting how unregulated commercial operators were being allowed to offer short-term accommodation despite ignoring regulations covering things like guest safety and building compliance.

According to Huffington Post, Shorten said it’s important to have an even playing field.

“There is huge economic and community potential in the emerging peer-to-peer market. I want to see Australia embrace it, while ensuring we have the right rules in place to protect workers, consumers and the public good,” he said.

“This is why Labor will today announce a set of National Sharing Economy Principles which lay out our priorities and approach to this sector.

“We’ve spent many months listening and talking to Australian consumers, companies and peak bodies about what these principles should cover. Our aim is to help the sharing economy flourish within a supportive and flexible regulatory framework,” Shorten told Huff Post.

“The first principle is that the sharing economy deserves its own light-touch rules and regulations. After all, when you’re using your own car, home or goods to deliver services, that’s hardly as high-risk as running a big business.

“Second, these new services shouldn’t compromise Australian wages and working conditions. There’s nothing for Australia to gain from a race to the bottom on pay and conditions, or from undermining peoples’ right to a decent standard of living.”

“The third principle is the simplest: everyone doing business in the sharing economy must pay their fair share of tax. That means sharing economy companies should pay company tax at the standard rate — whether they are local firms or big international ones.

“Australians delivering sharing economy services should also pay income tax just like everyone else does.”

TAA insists the while a residential property owner can begin renting their house or apartment online without gaining any approvals, a hotel needs to submit a development application that might take up to 87 weeks to get a two-stage approval, plus cost up to $1 million for a 4-star hotel to finalise.

Unregulated short-term providers often ignore strata management and Building Code guidelines that specifically ban short-term rentals.

TAA CEO Carol Giuseppi said the sharing economy has grown well beyond its original intentions.

“The ‘share’ accommodation sector has grown far beyond the original concept of a resident owner letting out their spare room for a few days a year to make a little pocket money,” she said.

“It is now a very serious commercial business for many operators, but they are not meeting the same obligations imposed on legitimate operators who contribute significantly to the economy and community.

“It would be terrible if it required a serious injury or incident to make authorities address the issue of unregulated operators failing to meet their obligations.

“We are not talking about resident householders offering a spare room on an occasional basis, but when apartment blocks get transformed into quasi-hotels or operators rent out multiple properties on a daily basis, then they really need to conform to standards imposed on regulated operators.”

“There is an exciting pipeline of hotel development in place across Australia, which has the capacity to generate significant benefits to communities, but when there are over 40,000 lettings available through unregulated short-term accommodation channels, many of these projects could be threatened, with major implications particularly for employment.”

”It is pleasing to see that Bill Shorten along with the new Federal Minister for Tourism and some State Governments are calling for a review of the sector. The point is that regulations are in place at local, State and Federal levels, they just need to be implemented across the board.”

Image: 4ca

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

2 responses to “Shorten says it’s time to share”

  1. While there are some positive aspects to what Labor is proposing – such as greater taxation obligations for sharing economy companies – overall, the principles fall short of ensuring there is a level playing field for operators of tourism accommodation
    businesses and platforms which enable private residences to be used for tourism accommodation. The lack of a level playing field would have the potential to further compromise tourism accommodation investment in Australia and would mean that people with disability could be left without adequate access to accommodation booked through a sharing economy platform.

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