Rating our candidates on the hot issue of Short Term Accommodation

Noosa Residents Against Unregistered Short-Term Accommodation (NRAUSTA) asked candidates in this month’s council election for Yes or No answers to five simple questions.

The group wanted to understand each candidate’s attitude to Short-Term Accommodation (STA) and to use traffic lights to summarise its assessment of the results – Green for each candidate whose answers align most closely with NRAUSTA objectives; Red for each candidate whose answers do not; and Amber where there is uncertainty.

All candidates who responded provided comment in addition to their Yes/No answers.

For the 2020/24 councillors, we took account of their voting records as well as their comments. 

Red lights for councillor candidates

Two candidates did not reply – Karen Finzel and Mat Bankes; so each has a Red light. In making this decision NRAUSTA also took account of Karen Finzel’s voting record in Short-Term Accommodation debates.

Amelia Lorentson is the only candidate to own an STA property and has declared a conflict of interest in recent council debates. NRAUSTA also took account of her voting record. While mentioning ‘Addressing Short-Term Accommodation issues’ in her policy priorities, NRAUSTA sees no evidence that her objectives would agree with theirs.  

Leigh McCready made no mention of STAs in her policy priorities.  But she may have ‘sniffed the wind’ as the campaign progressed, and in recent comments has reflected many of the STA issues raised through Noosa Matters and in other places during the campaign. NRAUSTA assesses these comments as opportunistic.

We were unable to contact Andrea Newland.

Amber lights

Some candidates show recognition and understanding of STA issues, but NRAUSTA has insufficient information to award them more than amber lights. These include:

Jessica Phillips – as a former Police first responder here for five years, she says she understands the disruptions caused by some STA renters.

Alecia Staines – says there should be no more STA approvals.

Michelle Ngatai-Stokes – says Short Stay Accommodation is the demise of our lifestyle and a blight on our community. 

Green Lights 

Joe Juresevic – Medium and High-Density residential zones have the greatest concentration of STAs yet facilitate the most affordable rental properties hence the greatest impact on worker accommodation (is felt here). This needs to be addressed. 

Brian Stockwell – Reducing the number of STAs is a desirable goal. It’s time to ramp up our enforcement activities.

Tom Wegener – I hope we can further limit STAs through the planning scheme amendment early in the next term. Wegener voted for 90 per cent of motions brought before the 2020/24 council that sought to limit STAs.

Fiona Jacobs – Enforce existing Local Laws and issue fines for noncompliance; seek submissions from neighbours when considering STA approvals; comprehensively review the STA Local Law August 2024.

Nicola Wilson – Residents have complained of impacts on their wellbeing, and these complaints are not being dealt with. This is unacceptable. The proliferation of STAs has led to housing shortages for Noosa workers which is felt all over the shire. This is an imbalance I want to address as a priority.

Amber lights for Mayoral candidates:

Nick Hluszko – declined to answer any of NRAUSTA’s questions. He reasoned: “It is very difficult for me to have an absolute position without factual data. If elected I commit to a review to establish the facts.” When Noosa Today asked him to list the top four Council issues most important to Noosa residents, he did not mention STAs.

Ingrid Jackson – answered two of the five questions and wrote that it was impossible to answer the other questions with a simple Yes or No. She also wrote: “My policy is to ensure efficient complaints processes and enforcement, and a formal complaints mechanism for issues at properties without STA Short Term Approval. Adequate resourcing is needed.” In her reply to Noosa Today’s question about the four top Council issues she made no mention of STAs. Her widely distributed policy pamphlet does not refer to STAs. 

John Morrall – In his reply to Noosa Today’s question about the four top council issues, made no mention of STAs. However, he replied to all five questions from NRAUSTA and also wrote – “The whole STA plan needs to be reopened. I will work to try to resolve this problem before it becomes a bigger monster. We cannot let this get out of control any more.” Morrall might also have ‘sniffed how the STA wind was blowing’ as the campaign unfolded, with increasing publicity given to a multitude of STA issues.

Green light:  

Frank Wilkie – His policy pamphlet lists as his #2 priority: “Vigilance against overdevelopment, reducing STA impacts in neighbourhoods, ensuring Noosa stays Noosa.” In  his reply to Noosa Today’s questions he wrote: “Halting the spread and impacts of short-term accommodation in residential areas by planning law changes and a properly resourced enforcement regime.“ In his reply to NRAUSTA he wrote: “If elected I will ensure a review; and resourcing of the STA local law to ensure it works as intended.” 

NRAUSTA’s convenor Natasha Fabulic said it had not been easy making these assessments and deciding on traffic lights to reflect a convergence or otherwise of candidate and NRAUSTA views.

“For more than five years we have given a voice to Noosa residents impacted by the Short-term Rent tsunami that has flooded Noosa,” she said. “The Short Stay Let Local Law brought some welcome change, but many residents remain frustrated. There have been problems with implementation, enforcement, the ‘hot line’, transparency and review processes. Questions have arisen over ‘existing use rights’ on which some approvals have been given. We want the new council to review and amend the Local Law to address these issues and  disappointments.

“With this in mind, NRAUSTA supports Frank Wilkie for Mayor, past councillors Joe Juresevic, Brian Stockwell and Tom Wegener for re-election. Of new candidates it supports Fiona Jacobs and Nicola Wilson. These are the candidates whose attitudes to STAs most clearly align with NRAUSTA’s.”

Full comments from Mayoral and Councillor candidates can be read on NRAUSTA’s website

(Authorised by N.Playford. 12 Daybreak Ct., Castaways Beach)


This Post Has One Comment

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    Seeing the present council has failed to properly enforce its own STA policies particularly with regard to unauthorised rentals, I wouldn’t give any of the existing members a green light.

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