16 Nov 2012

Communities Versus Casinos

By Alex Greenwich
While James Packer's Barangaroo casino is fast-tracked through the planning process, Millers Point public housing tenants have been earmarked for eviction. Independent MP Alex Greenwich on the O'Farrell Government's priorities
There is a stark contrast between the O'Farrell Government's handling of two matters next door to each other in Sydney. The Government appears to have gone out of its way to support, ignore process, and fast-track a second casino proposal, while readying to sell adjacent public tenants' homes.

Millers Point is one of Sydney's oldest and strongest communities. It is home to public housing tenants who greatly contribute to the fabric of our city, and who are anxious their tight knit community will be destroyed under the Government's review of housing.

Recent media reports claim the Government is evaluating up to 250 properties for sale — a massive sell-off. This follows the previous government's sales of 32 homes and a further four approved for sale.

The Government says the Millers Point houses are inappropriate for the singles and couples who mainly comprise the social housing waiting list, but the 55,000 people on the list include large families.

There has been a long history of government neglect and underfunding, leaving older heritage properties expensive to maintain. Maintenance has been ignored, homes left vacant to deteriorate and be vandalised, and there's a large backlog of repairs.

Alarmingly, it seems the O'Farrell Government intends to sell occupied homes and move tenants, many of whom have been there for years — some for five generations. Selling homes and removing low income tenants will have a major impact on this community. It will reduce housing for key workers close to the city, and push more tenants with health and welfare problems to the fringes of the city without transport, jobs or support services.

Reports have suggested that tenants be relocated in the inner city, but Housing NSW reports inner city urgent waiting times are up to two years, or five to 15 years for others. People needing larger family homes — like many being sold in Millers Point — wait for over 10 years.

Inner city social housing is close to health and welfare support services, jobs and public transport. This proposal will displace Millers Point tenants, expand the already lengthy waiting list and reduce available stock.

The State Heritage Register lists the Millers Point/Dawes Point Village Precinct as "unique in Australia because of a strong sense of cohesion facilitated by a range of complementary architectural, structural, physical and social elements". This should be maintained.

There was widespread alarm over statements by the Minister for Finance and Services in a Sydney Morning Herald article on 26 October where he said, "Inevitably, when considering the future of Millers Point, the Government needs to consider it in the context of all of the surrounding areas, including the Barangaroo development area".

Selling high value inner city properties is like selling the family silver; it will also "cleanse" the area of poorer people at the same time that millionaires get the rules changed to suit them.

There is community outrage at the approval process for James Packer's second casino on the Barangaroo site. It seems there will be no tender process for a second Sydney casino and no independent assessment over whether dealing with one company will provide the best outcome. Rules for not going to tender were changed just before the proposal was approved despite the Government's promise before the last state election that it would end deals being behind closed doors.

Unfortunately, the Opposition has jumped at the chance to agree to James Packer's plan for a second casino without tender, after a longstanding 'one casino' policy.

Aside from encouraging gamblers to lose their money, casinos can be hotbeds for crime. Any decision to change the law for another casino should be made only after extensive community consultation and with input from crime experts, welfare organisations and the local community.

The casino and hotel will be on public land and up to 60 storeys high, with major impacts on the Barangaroo development, particularly the adjacent public open space.

I don't believe Sydney needs another casino, especially within walking distance of our existing casino, the Star — which also occupies a prime harbour waterfront position. Especially not while Millers Point public housing residents live in fear of being turned out of their homes.

We need to retain inner city public housing, because stable low cost housing is vital for people to get back on their feet after a crisis or serious health condition, or indeed a gambling problem — something that anyone can experience.

The Government needs to halt plans to sell inner city public housing and to invest in social housing to provide homes for those 55,000 waiting. The Government should apply an open tender process and full evaluation of costs and benefits for a second Sydney casino before any decision is made.

Log in or register to post comments

Discuss this article

To control your subscriptions to discussions you participate in go to your Account Settings preferences and click the Subscriptions tab.

Enter your comments here

jackal01
Posted Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 07:50

Written for another Article but can also apply here, because of this Consumerism by Stealth attitude.

Our entire system of consumerism, that includes Casino's is shot.

Look at it this way, ever wonder where the supposed Tax Dollars are going.

Income slitting. There is 25 unemployment on the North Shore of Sydney, Eastern suburbs etc. The Middle Class, Business People/ Parents decide to Income split so that their unemployable children or Wife/Husband can get $800.00 Gross a week curtesy of the Tax Purse instead of 500.00 on New Start which is also funded by the Tax Purse.

The difference being that the Middle Class Parent/Shop owner/Business Man decide not to pay Tax by Income splitting and denying the Tax Purse as opposed to the Government deciding how much his Dependence should get on the Dole.

Now as I’ve said before 77% of all Australians live of the Tax Purse, we do not pay into it and that includes Business People or the so called Middle Classes who earn their income through consumerism to so many people who are directly funded by governments and even those indirectly Funded through Infrastructure reliant Companies and or Infrastructure spending/Government Projects to create Employment like the Snowy Mountain Scheme/Motorway construction etc.

Is that why the American Government has given up on the Middle Classes and our own Government is in the Process, have they figured it out, but the Retailers/Small Business Person hasn’t.

So who really owns Serco? the Mob that runs our Prisons and Security. Wouldn’t be Margaret Thatchers Son would it, the Arms Dealer.

If that is as I state why haven’t we been told, why are we told that we are Tax Payers, which we are not and why are we told that Business is so great when it is not.

As I have said GDP only tells us that money flowed, it can’t tell you that it only flowed because I mowed your lawn and you mine.

Unemployment figures can’t tell you how many people are actually unemployed because of Income splitting to avoid Paying Taxes gives a lot of Middle Class People Jobs that are in fact unsustainable, especially when Recessions and Depressions hit, which restricts Consumerism and makes a lot of these small Business unsustainable and they go broke, Austerity would in fact only make things worse, if you consider who and what fed Prosperity in the 1st place, Government spending and a healthy Tax Purse!

So where do the mystery Taxes that are so good for Prosperity come from?.

jackal01
Posted Monday, November 19, 2012 - 05:08

Correction

The above articles sentence should read.

"Income splitting. There is 2% unemployment."

I'm going blind in old age.LOL

John Bennetts
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 12:34

Alex, if what you wrote about tenants being residents of the same houses for 5 generations is correct, then we aren't discussing welfare.

We are discussing subsidised squatting by the professional unemployed, who do so at public expense. The sooner this little scam is busted, the better, and by any means available.

Now, back to the real issue, which is the unprincipled grab by Junior Packer for public land, for private gain. He is essentially no different from the generations of public housing tenants. Both groups seek private advantage from public assets without paying a market price and want the rules manipulated to their advantage.

There's nothing to like about the current government in all of this either. Perhaps the only action that is supportable was taken by the previous government, when they sold a small number of houses. I don't know details, of course, but it seems to be a responsible approach to getting value for properties which are very desirably located. What's not to like about that?

Penelope.B-P
Posted Monday, December 3, 2012 - 13:21

Alex,

This is a very important issue, and I thank you for your well-written article.

The history, and current situation, of the unique Millers Point community was the focus of a research project I completed last year: "That's My Point! - Urban gentrification and the value of community; a case study of Millers Point"

I interviewed long-time residents, community leaders, City of Sydney's public housing liaison officer, Clover Moore, a former Housing NSW employee, and spoke informally with many more individuals and groups with interests in either retaining Millers Point properties as public housing, or selling them off to the private market. As a researcher, I had to approach the issue objectively.

Having done so, I could not agree more with what Alex says in this article. The rich social value of Millers Point - the oldest continually surviving urban residential community in Australia's history - must be preserved. The policies adopted by Housing NSW and the State Govt are, of course, underpinned by economic rationalism, and completely ignore the social and historical significance of the properties and the area in general.

Penelope Bowyer-Pont
Doctoral Candidate,
Macquarie University

Penelope.B-P
Posted Monday, December 3, 2012 - 13:21

Alex,

This is a very important issue, and I thank you for your well-written article.

The history, and current situation, of the unique Millers Point community was the focus of a research project I completed last year: "That's My Point! - Urban gentrification and the value of community; a case study of Millers Point"

I interviewed long-time residents, community leaders, City of Sydney's public housing liaison officer, Clover Moore, a former Housing NSW employee, and spoke informally with many more individuals and groups with interests in either retaining Millers Point properties as public housing, or selling them off to the private market. As a researcher, I had to approach the issue objectively.

Having done so, I could not agree more with what Alex says in this article. The rich social value of Millers Point - the oldest continually surviving urban residential community in Australia's history - must be preserved. The policies adopted by Housing NSW and the State Govt are, of course, underpinned by economic rationalism, and completely ignore the social and historical significance of the properties and the area in general.

Penelope Bowyer-Pont
Doctoral Candidate,
Macquarie University

Mallory
Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 - 16:33

Every community should evolve and expand in a matter that will meet the needs of every individual. The government should implement a plan that addresses individual's concerns. - Mallory Fleming

malemsenen
Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 15:58

Great post! I'm just starting out in community management/marketing media and trying to learn how to do it well - resources like this article are incredibly helpful. As our company is based in the US, it?s all a bit new to us. The example above is something that I worry about as well, how to show your own genuine enthusiasm and share the fact that your product is useful in that case

 

Cari Uang Lewat Ekiosku.com Cari Uang Lewat Ekiosku.com