Residents, unionists and supporters marched and rallied on March 19 in Millers Point, to protest the continuing eviction of remaining public housing tenants of the Point, Dawes Point and the iconic Sirius Building. The event, which attracted about 200 people, was sponsored by the Millers Point Community Working Party and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).
“The fight to remain in our community goes on. The fighting spirit of the elderly, the frail and the vulnerable continues the struggle,” publicity for the action stated.
Recognition of country was presented by local resident and Aboriginal elder Patricia Corowa. “Of the 463 of us [Millers Point residents] who were originally handed eviction letters on March 19, 2014, there are now only about 20 left,” she said.
“I’m proud to say I’m one of them. We will not be moved! I will not be moved!”
Greens MP David Shoebridge said: “After decades of lack of investment in public housing, this is the result ... Millers Point has always been a mixed and varied community; let's not allow the government to make it into a showcase for the wealthy upper class."
Paul McAleer, MUA Sydney branch secretary, said: “This is the third anniversary of the announcement that this rotten, corrupt Liberal government had decided to throw these people out of their homes. The MUA has supported these residents from the start.
“Millers Point and this area has always been a maritime, working-class community. We pledge to stand by these residents, and defend all those who are determined to stay from any forces of the state.”
Other speakers at the rally included representatives of the ALP, CFMEU, Sydney Mayor Clover Moore, and the Christian Democratic Party.
Tao Gofers, architect of the Sirius building, which was constructed for public housing tenants after the Builders Labourers Federation’s campaigns of the 1970s, told Green Left Weekly: “Sirius is a symbol of the successful Green Bans and community actions of 40 years ago. It is also a symbol of social and affordable housing in the city.
“The threat by the state government to tear it down demonstrates that the Liberal Party does not value heritage and the environment. We must campaign to prevent this vandalism.
“Only 4% of Australian homes are public housing. In Holland the figure is 40% and Denmark it is 17%. We're missing the point. We're a community, not just a market.
“Australia's housing crisis is endemic. It involves a range of issues, underlying the tie between the major parties and big money.
“Solving the housing crisis will involve significant social change.”