Action for Public Housing (APH) was launched at the Redfern Community Centre on June 24. The launch was addressed by Green Bans movement activists Jack and Judy Mundey, Aboriginal elder Jenny Munro and Associate Professor Michael Darcy. The meeting also watched short videos highlighting the history of community resistance to the destruction of public housing in the city.
Chairperson Denis Doherty said: "We intend to unite public housing tenants and supporters to protect public housing and to fight the state government's 'social cleansing' policies aimed at evicting public housing residents and supporting the big developers."
Jenny Munro spoke about the successful struggle by the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy to defend the right to affordable Aboriginal housing on the Redfern Block. She announced the formation of a new Embassy for Public Housing at the Waterloo Green, in the nearby suburb of Waterloo, where the state government plans to demolish public housing towers and replace them with high-rise, private apartments.
APH is promoting a “Charter for Public Housing”, which includes the following demands:
• Government investment in building more public housing stock;
• No sell-off of public property or public lands;
• All current public housing stock to remain as public housing;
• No “no grounds” evictions, no forced relocations;
• Security of tenure for housing tenants;
• Proper maintenance and repair for public housing, no more 'demolition by neglect'; and
• Protection of long-standing communities.
Peter Boyle, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney in the federal election, replied to questions from the public housing advocacy group Hands Off Glebe's publication, Glebe Grapevine: "The federal government needs to take major responsibility for infrastructure in all major cities because that is where most people live and it has the power to raise revenue through progressive income taxation. A major federal investment in public housing is a key infrastructure need."
"There is a social and environmental need to have more medium density housing in Sydney. However, under the current rules and regulations, big developers are having a field day and residents and communities are severely disempowered."
"A vacant property tax would play a useful role in reducing the high rate of vacant housing in Sydney. Ninety thousand properties are left vacant across greater Sydney, with the vacancy rate as high as one in seven in some parts of the Sydney electorate."