Govt backs short-stay probe

Taelor Pelusey and Therese ColmanBusselton Dunsborough Times
Debbie and Peter Noonan, owners of the Margaret River Guest House.
Camera IconDebbie and Peter Noonan, owners of the Margaret River Guest House. Credit: The West Australian

Reforms to WA’s short-stay accommodation sector are in sight, with the State Government this week signalling support for a Parliamentary inquiry.

Capes accommodation providers — and particularly lobby group, the Registered Accommodation Providers of the Margaret River Region — have been calling for legislative changes for months, and are elated with the announcement.

RAPMRR founder and Margaret River guesthouse owner Debbie Noonan told the Times traditional operators had been hit hard by unregistered holiday homes using sites such as Airbnb and an inquiry was “the best thing we could have asked for”.

“We’ve been pushing for this for some time … so we’re really pleased people have been listening.”

The inquiry will look at a range of issues, including customer safety, insurance, licensing, taxation and registration.

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said there was a need for “wide consultation and a bipartisan approach to reform in this industry”. “This inquiry is an opportunity to have a committee of the Parliament test ideas with the industry and to report back to the Parliament and then government,” she said.

Vasse MLA and shadow tourism minister Libby Mettam said the decision was a credit to Ms Noonan’s efforts and a fairer playing field was needed, particularly with local governments not “well enough resourced” to combat unregistered providers.

She said Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman — as a committee member of the Economics and Industry Standing Committee, which will head up the inquiry — was another key player in instigating change.

Mr Redman expected the inquiry to investigate the industry’s status, review regulatory and taxation frameworks, and examine approaches taken by other Australian and international governments.

The call comes just days after the Australian Hotels Association’s WA branch stepped up its fight against online accommodation booking websites, proposing a five-point plan to regulate, licence and control the home-sharing sector.

MRBTA co-chief executive Sharna Kearny said holiday homes had an “unfair advantage over traditional accommodation” and they were supportive “of approaches that seek to level the playing field”.

“Holiday homes operating illegally create safety concerns for visitors, and have the potential to undermine the quality associated with the Margaret River region brand,” she said.

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