Jenny Leong says We Live Here

Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown has hit back at the Liberal/National governments privatisation agenda that has seen the whole sale sell-off of major parts of Redfern, Darlington, Waterloo and Eveleigh.


Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (12:41): Today I bring a message to the Liberal Premier and her Liberal and National Ministers on behalf of the people who live in Redfern, Waterloo, Darlington and Eveleigh, a message that starts with three simple words taken from a social action project started in Waterloo: We Live Here. Yes, that is right: We live here. This is our home, our neighbourhood and our community, and we deserve respect. Our heritage buildings and our narrow tree-lined streets are not empty spaces for your back delivery entrances or garbage pick-up zones, our parks and open spaces are too precious to be used for your infrastructure construction sheds, and our homes that sit on public land are simply not for sale.

The value of our community centres and community services, or the people who work there, cannot be measured or ranked by your competitive tendering processes or your performance indicators. We are the people of this city. We are the caring neighbours who pick up the pieces that break as a result of your cuts to mental health, and drug and alcohol support. We are the community activists who campaign for better public transport, more cycleways, sustainable and accessible active transport solutions, and more investment in community, health and education services.

We are the people who make up the formal and informal networks of groups and organisations that advocate for safe, secure, affordable housing and renters rights. We are the volunteers that make the free lunches and staff the stalls at community open days. We are the organisers of public meetings through resident action groups and parents and citizens associations. We are the problem solvers that try through submissions, public consultations and advocacy to lessen the damage that your so-called State significant infrastructure projects are inflicting on our community.

We are the diverse communities that refuse to be whitewashed by your developers' prospectuses. We are the strong communities that refuse to be silenced by your divide and conquer approach. We are not a subsection in your business case that is heavily redacted and often inaccurate. We are the people who live in Redfern, Darlington, Eveleigh and Waterloo and we are facing the brunt of this Liberal-Nationals Government and its privatisation agenda. Last week at two community meetings, one hosted 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 heard from the community. Their message was loud and clear: "We have had enough." This is just a taste of what is going on as a result of the Liberal-Nationals' activities in these neighbourhoods. They sold off Australian Technology Park. At the time they said the profits from the sale would be used to upgrade Redfern station. The station is in the middle of an upgraded, but the project is not delivering on the decades-long need for lifts to make it accessible. Next year the Commonwealth Bank will bring 10,000 workers to Australian Technology Park, but the station will still have no lifts.

The University of Sydney is slowly taking over the Darlington neighbourhood. It has turned some of the streets into back entrances to the campus and others are being overrun by private student housing with smaller than normal floor space ratios. This has been allowed under the guise of providing student housing, but it has not delivered affordable housing. Waterloo and Redfern are at crisis point. 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. It will also not meet the Government's own benchmark of 5 per cent public housing in the area. It is shameful that the two organisations that have been active in the area—Counterpoint Community Services and Inner Sydney Voice—have just failed in the competitive tender process because they have been engaging with and activating the public housing community to speak up against the disasters that are happening in Redfern and Waterloo.

The Premier may have no respect for our community and neighbourhood, but I assure her that we do because it is our home. It is where we live and we want to protect it for future generations. People from Waterloo, Redfern, Darlington and Eveleigh came together last week to say we have had enough. We are putting the Premier on notice; we are reminding her that she works for us; we are reminding her that we live here; and we are reminding her that this is our city. We are at its heart; we are its heart. We will not allow the Premier to sell what is not hers, to profit from our pain or to ignore our priorities in silence. We live here, and whether or not she likes it, we are here to stay.

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