Arson attack on Finger Wharf

October 16, 1991

By Pete Malatesta

SYDNEY — A petrol bomb attack on the Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf on October 9 has resulted in a tightening of security on this unique and historic building.

This was the fourth arson attempt on the wharf in the past seven months. While the building has suffered only slight damage, it illustrates the lengths to which some people community will go in an attempt to destroy the wharf.

Since the Greiner government announced the imminent demolition of the Finger Wharf in November 1990, the only thing keeping it standing is a green ban placed by the Building Workers Industrial Union.

The green ban is supported by the Woolloomooloo-based Friends of the Finger Wharf, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the National Trust — all of whom continue to vigorously lobby the government not to destroy the wharf.

"No other building in Australia brings together so much working-class history", Susan Barley from Friends of the Finger Wharf told Green Left.

"This is no stately home, no government building or anything to do with famous people. Soldiers, sailors, wharfies, and 85% of post-World-War-II migrants are all a part of the history of the wharf."

Built in 1910-16 for Australian wool exports, Finger Wharf is the last non-naval wharf in Woolloomooloo and is the world's largest timber-pile finger wharf.

The commission of inquiry resulting in the revoking of the 1987 permanent conservation order on the wharf claimed the cost of conserving it was too high. However, financial and economic information was kept "confidential" and not opened to public scrutiny and analysis.

At a meeting on October 9, the Friends of the Finger Wharf decided to increase their campaigning.

"We need more community support", spokesperson Barbara King told Green Left. "This can be hard because people think that when the wharf is gone all they will see is water. But they only have to look at what has happened around the fringes to realise this is wrong. So we will be embarking on a campaign of pamphleting and doorknocking."

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