A fenced-off site at 600 Elizabeth Street, Redfern, is vacant public land that was previously 100% public housing. Now the Liberal-National government wants to sell it to its property developer mates.
A growing campaign has collected nearly 1000 signatures on a petition demanding 100% public housing on any redevelopment of this site.
A rally, with a free barbecue provided by the Maritime Union of Australia and Shelter New South Wales in collaboration with Action for Public Housing, was held on the site on April 2.
Geoff Turnbull, from REDWatch introduced several powerful speeches by John Engeler from Shelter NSW, Karyn Brown from Waterloo Public Housing Action Group, Denis Doherty from Hands off Glebe, Barney Gardner from Save Millers Point, Green's MP for Newtown Jenny Leong and Rachel Evans, Socialist Alliance candidate for the Senate in NSW.
Engeler said that more public housing was needed to solve the housing crisis. “Even in our movement, people confuse the terms ‘social housing’, ‘community housing’ and ‘affordable housing’. But what we need is more public housing.”
Leong told Green Left that the government was deploying “an outrageous spin” around the future of this site. “They are calling it ‘Build To Sell’. In anyone else’s language that is privatisation.
“There is a huge housing crisis but instead of the state government using this site to provide more public and social housing, they are flogging off this land.”
Leong told the rally that “taking the profit out of housing was the only solution to the housing crisis”. “This state government has only one interest … to privatise public housing land so their developer mates can make more money.”
Evans told GL “the government wants to allow developers to build 300 homes here with only a slither of these to be ‘social housing’ … But we are demanding 100% public housing”. Redfern has been the site of many battles for public housing, she added. “Aboriginal housing was fought for and won, with the help of trade union green bans in the 1970s ... and we are fighting to win again here.”