Kennett slashes public housing
By David Mizon
and April Bragg
MELBOURNE — Fifty people rallied in Port Melbourne on May 1 to defend the Public Tenants Union (PTU), which is being closed down by the Kennett government. The closure is part of the state government's campaign of intimidation against public tenants and public tenant advocacy groups.
The Kennett government has plans to sell off public housing stock. This will occur in one of two ways — either through direct purchase by tenants, or by giving public housing land to private developers as payment for refurbishing public housing stock.
This has already happened at the Heidelberg estate, where housing, earmarked for demolition, has been put up for sale at market prices. At the Braybrook estate, the private contractor has been given the lion's share of the estate as payment for refurbishing a small amount of public housing.
Instances of public tenants being evicted are on the rise, as are the pretexts for eviction notices being served. Tenant groups have been threatened with funding cuts if they campaign against the government's policy or show solidarity with the PTU.
As well, the government has recently put the funding for tenant groups up for public tender, while encouraging other community groups to compete for these funds. This tactic has been successful in pitting some community groups against each other.
Public housing activists, public tenants and public tenant workers are determined to fight the government's privatisation plans. The PTU is looking for assistance and support. Contact 31 Bay St, Port Melbourne, or phone (03) 646 5222 if you can help.