So, the NSW State election has come and gone and nothing much has changed … or has it? And will some of the mooted changes at the top – as in who will be the Minister in charge of strata – be as bad for us as we might fear.
Sadly, we will be denied the Labor-proposed Strata Commissioner, and the registry for short-term lets – both excellent ideas that the government couldn’t possibly adopt (because they’re Labor’s excellent ideas).
Byron Bay will get its Airbnb By-pass – a limit of 90 nights per year that nowhere else in the state will be allowed – provided the promise was only contingent on us voting in the Coalition and not Ballina electing Nationals candidate Benjamin Franklin (that’s his name, honest!).
Barring a busload of by-election defeats, the excellent Yasmin Catley will have to wait four years for another shot at being our Fair Trading Minister (although she prefers Consumer Affairs as a title). Which brings us to who’s going to be in charge of Better Regulation, the ministry that looks after Fair Trading, which in turn looks after strata, after the impending cabinet reshuffle.
As we have said many times in these pages, Fair Trading (by any other name) has been a training wheels ministry for both sides of government, and that has led to a revolving door of ministers.
If they are useless, they are quietly shown to the exit. If they are more than competent, they are promoted to higher profile positions.
Since the Coalition last took office here, eight years ago, there have been no fewer than five Fair Trading ministers – Anthony Roberts, Victor Dominello, Matthew Mason-Cox, Stuart Ayres (for all of 15 days) and the incumbent, Matt Kean.
Anthony Roberts is now a major player, having been elevated to Planning. Victor Dominello is in Finance and Stuart Ayres is Sport, Western Sydney and Stadia demolition. OK, maybe not the latter. Matt Kean is widely spoken of as the Premier’s numbers man, so he will be due a reward.
Mr Mason-Cox has proved himself to be a bit of a rebel, having crossed the floor of parliament more times than the cleaners’ polishing machine.
But it has to be said, he was one of the few senior Liberals who spoke out against the planned than abandoned handing over of apartment blocks to Airbnb and their ilk. Maybe we should ask for him back.
Anyway, a couple of Ministers have dropped off the cabinet perch and, in any case, a new election usually leads to a freshen up. And one of the names being touted for promotion is Mark Coure.
Is that name ringing a faint bell for you? It should. It was Mr Coure’s report into short-term holiday letting that led to the disastrous, but dumped, plan to have no restrictions on commercial holiday lets of residential apartments.
To paraphrase wildly, the report acknowledged that Airbnb-style short-term letting presented specific problems for apartment blocks, but, hey, it wasn’t anything for anyone else to worry about, so go for it!
Now, I’m sure Mr Coure is an honest and intelligent man, but please forgive me if I say I don’t want him, or anyone who shares his views, anywhere near our bailiwick. We’ve already come too close for comfort to being sold down the river.
Give us someone who actually lives in an apartment … please! And give Mr Coure Transport – he loves buses and trains. Then we can all get on board.