A new Council with near-unanimous support for STA reform

Newly elected Mayor Frank Wilkie and five of the 2024 councillors directly acknowledged residents’ frustration with the implementation and enforcement of the Short Stay Let Local Law (SSL LL) during the election campaign.

Mayor Wilkie committed to “halt the spread and impacts of short-term accommodation in residential areas” and  “if elected will ensure a review”. 

His resounding win is a mandate to deliver on these commitments in an environment of possibly unanimous support on the Council floor – a circumstance rarely experienced in STA debate in the previous Stewart Council.

While Cr. Karen Finzel did not directly refer to STA, she declared housing affordability a priority issue.  A review of the SSL Local Law in September 2022 attributed the lack of affordable home rentals for workers to increased allocation of housing stock for the online Short Term Accommodation business.  If Councillor Finzel is true to her housing commitment, this will logically  draw her into supporting initiatives to halt STA impacts. 

Cr. Amelia Lorentson, an STA owner with a history of voting against STA regulation in the previous council, declared ‘addressing Short-Term Accommodation issues’ to be a priority for her if elected. The other four Councillors made similar or more specific commitments.

With the emergence of digital booking platforms (led by Airbnb), Noosa’s natural assets, tightly regulated built environment and economic strength in a financial climate of low returns, Noosa was a sitting duck for the wave of  STA investment. Penetration here is about 10 times the national rate with most STAs owned by absentee investors. 

STA businesses have become a scourge in places like Noosa.  They contravene planning regulations, compromise residential amenity, contribute to parking congestion, and deplete availability of long-term rental properties causing key worker shortages, as well as constraining business activity. 

They have transformed harmonious local neighbourhoods into tourist precincts for partying visitors, and they have had a negative effect on essential services such as health, education, banking and community care. 

The Short Stay Let Local Law was adopted by Noosa Council with much fanfare more than three years ago, but implementation has been snail-paced, with the approval processes and legal foundation questioned and enforcement by a tiny, understaffed Council section has been inadequate, generating high levels of community frustration.

The Noosa community is demanding action

NRAUSTA wants an audit of initiatives taken by other administrations in Australia and elsewhere to check the impact and spread of STAs (For example Byron Bay with its 60-day cap) with a view to understanding what among these initiatives could be relevant for Noosa. 

NRAUSTA also wants a Statement of Principle of the council’s beliefs and objectives for the management of STAs that confirms council will prioritise residents’ needs over investor/owner demands, and the demands of STA managers who profit from the industry. 

It petitioned Council almost four months ago (without reply) and presented  a ‘shopping list’ of reforms that it has presented to Council, including caps on STA numbers, caps on rental nights per year, and rigorous enforcement of the Local Law.

Natasha Fabulic, NRAUSTA’s convenor, said: “With successful candidates’ unanimous acknowledgement that STA is a matter of concern in the community, harmonious agreement of significant reform of the Local Law should be readily achieved.”

This should clearly be one of the new Council’s priorities, and there will be many residents of Noosa watching with great interest.


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