Our community is not for sale

October 2018  - South Sydney Herald column

There’s a lot going on right now in our local community when it comes to infrastructure, but not in a good way! The NSW Liberals and their big business mates seem hell bent on taking all they can from our neighbourhoods, and much less interested in giving us anything we actually need in return.

Our community is vibrant, caring and creative. We value our public housing, our public schools, our public parks, our public transport. We recognise the need for significant investment in public services, including healthcare – and especially mental health support. We know that to end the housing crisis we will need to invest in more public, social and affordable housing. We know that privatisation and leaving it to the market doesn’t lead to better outcomes or address inequality.

A few years ago, the Liberals sold off Australian Technology Park. At the time they said that the profits from the sale would be used to make Redfern station accessible. Despite consistent calls over years from the community for lifts at Redfern station, that work has still not begun. In August, the Liberals announced the sale of further public land along the Redfern rail corridor and said that this time, they promised the profits would go to station upgrades. They will excuse us if we don’t hold our breath.

In Waterloo and Redfern the sheer number of “State Significant” projects, consultations and plans make it close to impossible for locals to keep across them. The so-called redevelopment of the Waterloo Metro Quarter has failed to deliver on commitments to maintain public housing. It appears to be yet another exercise in selling off public land to private developers. The facts are clear: The Waterloo redevelopment will not deliver on the much-needed affordable housing targets and will not even meet the Government's own benchmark of 5% affordable housing in the area.

This month we heard the news that two organisations that have been active in the area—Counterpoint Community Services and Inner Sydney Voice—have lost the funding to run their vital public housing tenant participation and community building programs. We have raised this issue directly with the Premier and will continue to keep the pressure on because it is more important than ever that our communities are able to engage with these plans and projects.

We are the people who live and work in Redfern, Darlington, Eveleigh and Waterloo and we are facing the brunt of this Liberal privatisation agenda. And for those who think they can turn our quiet narrow streets or our heritage buildings into rear lane service entrances or rubbish collection sheds, or sell off our public land or housing, let this be a warning to you.

Last week at two public meetings, one I was pleased to host with local resident action groups and community members at The Settlement and another hosted by the City of Sydney at The Factory Community Centre, we came together and to discuss this issue. The message was loud and clear: "We have had enough."

We are committed to standing together. We must not be silenced by their divide and conquer approach. We are strong, we are diverse, we live here, and our community is not for sale.


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