City Hub

A car market on the way but residents want laws changed too

Residents have welcomed the reopening of the Kings Cross car market but say it won’t fix the backpacker problem unless local government laws are changed.

Last week City of Sydney announced it would open the 40-space market at the Ward Avenue car park to give backpackers a place to sell their campervans.

The move comes almost a year of campaigning from Potts Point residents who were fed up with backpackers clogging up Victoria street; an area known by tourists as the place to buy and sell cars.

Even though residents are grateful for the market, they believe backpackers won’t use it unless laws are changed to make selling vehicles on the street illegal.

“We have the carrot now we need the stick,” said chairman of the Clean Up Victoria Street committee, Tim Petersen. “We need the law changed.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP has tabled a Private Member’s Bill in the hopes of giving local councils the power to stop backpackers from selling their vehicles on the street.

“If backpackers can continue to freely sell vehicles on city streets, they will not be encouraged to relocate the cark park where negative impacts can be managed,” Ms Moore wrote in her motion to Council.

Director of City Operations, Garry Harding, agreed that legislative changes were vital to combating the problem.

“It’s really a two pronged attack,” he said. “The legislation is so important.

“We obviously can’t force backpackers to use the car market and there will be some backpackers who want to sleep in their vehicles. Those people aren’t going to pay the money [to use the car park].”

Backpackers will be charged approximately 70 dollars a week to use the market which will operate 24 hours between Monday to Thursday, and 9am-5pm Friday to Sunday.

A Council survey revealed less than half of backpackers were willing to pay this amount.

Mr Harding has also confirmed backpackers will not be allowed to sleep in their vehicles overnight or cook on the premise.

The announcement has had a mixed response from the backpackers.

French backpackers Pierre Margirier and David Bourdat think it’s a good idea but said 70 dollars a week is too much.

“I would make it 70 dollars for the time it takes for your van to be sold,” Mr Margirier said.

But German backpacker Katharina Kopka said she wouldn’t use the market at all.

“Under those conditions no,” she said when informed that the market would not allow sleeping or cooking on site.

Ms Kopka said these things were important to backpackers like herself who were “just trying to save as much money as possible”.

Marketing and business development manager at Travellers Auto Barn, Bastian Graf, said not allowing backpackers the ability to sleep overnight or cook on site was a potential problem.

“I think it’s a pretty good idea,” Mr Graf said. “How they’re going to manage it is going to be a different story.”

Mr Harding acknowledged there were risks involved in the strategy.

“I can’t say I am totally confident that it will totally fix the problem,” he said. “But I certainly think it will go some way to addressing the issue.”

Council hopes to have car market up and running by the end of this year.