Rally to save public housing


By Dave Mizon MELBOURNE — On February 22, 100 people attended a march and rally in the Footscray shopping centre organised by the Public Tenants Union to mourn the death of public housing. The rally was conducted as a funeral procession complete with a cortege clad in black and a coffin marked "public housing". The coffin was eventually given a mock burial in front of Ralph Willis' office in Footscray. The action was called to protest against the federal government's housing policy, which will privatise public housing and increase rents by 25-50%. The new Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA), to be implemented over the next three years, will allow the federal government to significantly narrow its role to that of income provider and cop. The federal government will also encourage the states to "generate innovative and flexible strategies" for low-cost housing such as head leasing, whereby housing purchased by investors will be leased to state housing. So the federal government will throw even more public money at private landlords. The Greens, the Democrats, the Democratic Socialists and Irene Bolger, the independent candidate for Batman, spoke outside Willis's office.