Nats Leader John Barilaro under fire over undeclared Airbnb business

Nats Leader John Barilaro under fire over undeclared Airbnb business


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NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has been renting a $2 million holiday home via Airbnb and Stayz. Photo by Janie Barrett.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has been renting a $2 million holiday home via Airbnb and Stayz. Photo by Janie Barrett.

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Questions raised over conflict of interest

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Deputy Premier and NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro and his wife Deanna have been hiring out a palatial $2 million holiday house via Airbnb and other accommodation websites for thousands of dollars a night.

While Mr Barilaro has declared ownership of the home to the Parliament for two years, he only declared the business use on Wednesday, via an amendment to his register of interests, after it was raised by Fairfax Media.

Questions are now being asked about whether Mr Barilaro had a conflict of interest when he became minister for regional tourism four months after the property was purchased and when cabinet discussed the regulation of the collaborative economy in NSW for businesses like Uber, Airbnb and Stayz.

Records show the Barilaros purchased the 94 hectare property, "Dungowan Estate", at Oallen near Braidwood, for $2.015 million on June 13, 2014.

In October that year Mr Barilaro became minister for regional tourism, a position he held until April 2015. He remains Minister for Small Business, Skills and Regional Development.

Featuring a lake, tennis court, boatshed, swimming pool and "a fully equipped butler's pantry" the six-bedroom, five-bathroom Dungowan Estate is described on its website as "the ultimate vacation home".

A listing on Airbnb offers the property for $1750 a night, while the Stayz website gives the option of $10,500 for a week. The property has been listed on Airbnb since April this year and on Stayz since at least November 2014, according to user reviews.

Dungowan, the $2 million holiday house being rented out. Photo supplied.

Dungowan, the $2 million holiday house being rented out. Photo supplied.

A listing description by Ray White real estate agents at Braidwood from 2014 states: "Currently partially leased for executive holiday stays, the property generates an income of over $160,000 pa.”

In January this year Better Regulation Minister Victor Dominello released a government position paper on the collaborative economy. It stated the government "welcomes the positive impact of the collaborative economy for consumer choice, employment and productivity".

A government inquiry last month published a report into the regulation of short-term holiday letting in NSW, which examined businesses like Airbnb and Stayz.

The inquiry recommended the government amend state planning polices "to allow short-term rental accommodation".

Deputy Opposition Leader Michael Daley said: "Right now, the government is looking into regulations around Airbnb and Stayz.

"Did Mr Barilaro disclose to the Premier, to the cabinet or to the Parliament this potential conflict of interest?" he asked. "If not, why not?"

Mr Barilaro's spokesman said the Deputy Premier "has not been involved in the inquiry and if a government response is considered by cabinet he would, of course, raise any likely conflict of interest."

Asked if Mr Barilaro declared a conflict of interest upon becoming regional tourism minister, the spokesman said: "As per the declaration requirements the property in question was disclosed on the minister's parliamentary disclosures – any cabinet discussions remain in cabinet and, of course, are not made public."

The parliamentary rules require MPs to disclose any additional income, including from a partnership or trust.

Records show Mr and Mrs Barilaro established a family partnership with an Australian Business Number on June 20, 2014, which registered the Dungowan Estate website.

Mr Barilaro's spokesman said: "The partnership owning 'Dungowan' made a loss during the return periods and so it has been interpreted as not requiring declaration."

"However, the Deputy Premier has now lodged a discretionary return with the clerk in the interests of full disclosure," he said.

This story first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald

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