(by Alex Greenwich, 28 March 2014, The Telegraph)
THE people of Millers Point have not seen or heard from Christine Forster recently. If she spent more time with her constituents, her opinion piece in Thursday’s Daily Telegraph might not have been a rehash of the government’s media releases and spin.
Since being elected I have worked with the residents of Millers Point and the state government to seek an outcome that would protect this part of Australia’s history.
Having convinced the government of the need for its ageing population to be near services, it initiated a Social Impact Assessment. The assessment recommended a number of options that would have retained housing for those most in need. Despite promises, the government failed to release the study before making its decision, probably because the study did not support a wholesale sell-off.
Former Liberal minister Greg Pearce devised a plan to retain around 150 properties. Sadly these were discarded by the government, which is now planning a clearance sale. I cannot think of a term other than “social cleansing” to describe the systematic removal of all poor, vulnerable and elderly people.
Media is repeatedly shown a few terraces that are apparently “too good” for public housing tenants, but many properties are low-key 1980s units, without views apart from the Barangaroo construction site.
The “massive subsidies” the government alleges these residents receive are just based on the difference between market rent that someone made up and the rent paid by tenants — which is based on income, the same as for all social housing tenants.
Many tenants make their own repairs, because the government has neglected them pretty well since the then Housing Commission took them over. Maritime Services gave the land to the government years back to ensure our city had a place for low-income earners and vulnerable groups.
The decision to sell fails to address the vacuum of social and affordable housing in the inner city.
Sadly the government says we need a casino in this area but not a community that supports aged, ill and frail people.