Millers Point pensioners to be evicted for Packer playground?
Tenants living in public housing in Sydney’s Millers Point are vowing to resist the forced sale of their homes writes Lisa Moon in Red Flag. A community meeting to plan the fightback, organised by the Millers Point Defence Committee with the support of the Maritime Union of Australia and the City of Sydney, drew a crowd of 500 on 22 March.
A lifetime resident of the area under threat, Barney Gardner, addressed the meeting with furious words for premier Barry O’Farrell and community services minister Pru Goward: “Why didn’t they have the guts to come and face the community? Because they’re dogs”, he said.
“They want to take away your homes. They will not take away your homes”, said Paul McAleer, secretary of the Sydney branch of the MUA. “The MUA will bring the shock troops; we will bring other unions along with us to defend your home. We will be arrested if we have to. Now the decision has been made, we will escalate things”, he said to a cheering crowd.
“Tenancy laws will not save your homes. What will save your homes is the community and workers across NSW and unions fighting together”, said Martin Barker of the Inner West Tenants and Housing Service.
The state government claims that proceeds of the sale will be “reinvested” in public housing, but sceptical residents have heard this story before, when the sell-offs began in 2008.
“The Labor government started selling off the houses, and that was supposed to be for getting the rest up to a liveable standard”, a Millers Point resident of 35 years, Wendy Ford, told Red Flag. “We never saw a cent of it.”
Nobody believes that a Liberal government will be any better. “The only thing that the Liberals are good at is develop, develop, develop. And look after their mates in big business”, Ford said. “There are people literally walking around in tears. They’re absolutely gutted.”
It’s no secret that there is a push to gentrify the area, with a six star hotel and high-rollers-only casino planned for Barangaroo, just streets away.
“James Packer has changed the law so that he could build his casino. It’s all to do with Barangaroo … She [Goward] said we’ve got to be gone in two years, and that’s when Barangaroo’s set to be finished”, said Ford.