Rally says stop privatisation of public housing in Redfern

A rally in Redfern on Saturday, 2 April calls for a halt to privatisation of public land at 600 Elizabeth Street. Photo: Peter Boyle.

By PETER BOYLE

A fenced-off site at 600 Elizabeth Street, Redfern, is vacant public land that was previously 100 per cent public housing. Now, the Liberal-National government wants to sell it to its property developer mates.

A growing campaign has collected hundreds of signatures on a petition demanding 100 per cent 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 Saturday, 2 April.

Geoff Turnbull from REDWatch (Redfern, Eveleigh, Darlington and Waterloo Watch) introduced several powerful speeches by John Engeler from Shelter NSW, Karyn Brown from the Waterloo Public Housing Action Group, Denis Doherty from Hands Off Glebe, Barney Gardner from Save Millers Point, Newtown MP Jenny Leong and Socialist Alliance Senate NSW candidate Rachel Evans.

Engeler said 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 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,” she said.

“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.”

The local MP 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 Green Left: “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 per cent 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,” she said.

A rally on 2 April, 2022 demands 100 per cent public housing on any redevelopment of 600 Elizabeth Street, Redfern. Video: Green Left/YouTube.

This article first appeared in Green Left. It is republished here with the kind permission of Green Left.

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