BY CHRISTOPHER HARRIS
Millers Point residents are still uncertain about their fate, more than a month after NSW Housing Minister Brad Hazzard said there could be possible exceptions to the forced evictions.
In correspondence with Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, the minister wrote he was “actively considering the question of whether there should be exceptions, extensions or alternative measures for tenants in particular extenuating circumstances”.
But this potentially positive sign has so far failed to amount to any certainty for elderly community members.
Mr Hazzard met with the Millers Point Community Working Party on September 17 and September 22.
The residents reported that the minister had been given more ‘flexibility’ from cabinet following discussions.
One person from the area who felt let down was John McInerney, president of the local resident action group.
He said he believed the support of Christian Democrat and balance of power MP Reverend Fred Nile could mean the tide had turned for the social housing residents.
“We would like to see him get us a meeting with the Premier,” Mr McInerney told City Hub.
“We believe the minister has been given more flexibility to retain social housing.”
But Mr McInerney was not optimistic about the political processes.
“I’m afraid to say that there hasn’t been any real action. While Brad Hazzard has made encouraging noises, there hasn’t been any change of policy,” Mr McInerney said.
“We hadn’t received any replies from Brad Hazzard. All that’s happened is he has met up with us, and what we have proposed is a modified program which would let residents live in the Sirius building and the workers’ houses.”
But that idea is in doubt, following a government announcement that the 79 apartment building Sirius in The Rocks could be demolished and replaced with a complex containing 249 luxury apartments by NewsCorp last week.
President of the Save Millers Point group, John Dunn, posted on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon expressing anger at the over development of the area and the loss of social housing.
“Sirius is a monument to the Green Bans and the survival of a community. If the Millers Point community is destroyed,
Sirius sold off and the site redeveloped, there will be a new tower that will forever stand for Mike Baird’s vision of central Sydney as a place only for the rich. In years to come when people ask what was Mike Baird’s contribution to Sydney, the answer will be, ‘Remember Sirius?’” he wrote.
Mr McInerney took advantage of the opening of Barangaroo on August 22, and set up a stall asking for signatures for a petition to lobby the government to stop evictions.
He said he was pleased with the support from the general community, and that the petition had hundreds of signatures.
While Mr McInerney was lobbying the community, Mr Greenwich had been lobbying the government and had been in discussion with Mr Hazzard.
Speaking with City Hub, Mr Greenwich said the minister must take the idea of possible exceptions to a cabinet meeting where it must be discussed.
“The minister has responded to my repeated requests for a rethink of government plans for Millers Point,” he said.
“I will continue to push for retention of some social housing in Millers Point and work with the community to reduce the personal impacts as much as possible.”