Labor could have prevented the sell-off of public housing at Millers Point if it had helped amend legislation related to the Barangaroo casino, MP Alex Greenwich says.
In November, the independent member for Sydney called on the opposition to “tie their support for [the casino] to the retention of public housing in Millers Point and to action on much-needed repairs and maintenance”.
In a parliamentary debate over the casino, which will be inside Mr Greenwich’s electorate, he said the bill would advance the interests of the gambling industry at any cost.
“Public housing in Millers Point has been neglected by the O’Farrell government and the former Labor government,” he said.
“I share the local community’s concern that the government is bending over backwards to give James Packer exactly what he wants while neglecting and taking away the security of vulnerable public housing tenants.”
The casino legislation passed with the support of both major parties in the Legislative Council.
“Labor completely ignored the opportunity to use their leverage to help Millers Point,” Mr Greenwich told City News this week.
“The casino bill required ALP support to pass the NSW upper house, and they gave it to the government without a fuss.”
The state government announced it will sell 300 Millers Point properties, including the Sirius apartment complex, with tenants informed of their upcoming eviction last week. Community services minister Pru Goward has promised full assistance with relocation.
“This has to happen,” Ms Goward told Channel Ten’s The Project last week. While she said every cent raised “will remain within the social housing budget”, she did not guarantee it will be used to build new homes. There is speculation it could instead be used to plug a $300 million annual hole in the public housing budget.
Labor shadow minister for housing, Sophie Cotsis, said the opposition is seeking legal advice on the issue but had been gagged by the government when trying to ask questions in parliament. She said she would not play political games with Mr Greenwich and defended Labor’s record.
“The Labor Party has invested $2.9 billion in public housing and the fight shoud be taken up to Pru Goward,” Ms Costis said. She also called on Clover Moore’s team to do more at a local level.
“I want to see the City of Sydney invest more resources and provide more assistance to help those residents at Millers Point.”
Critics of Mr Greenwich said his speech to parliament called only for an extension of the consultation period, and they argue he made no real attempt to work with either Labor or the government.
City of Sydney councillor Linda Scott said fighting the sale requires action, not “hollow words in the chambers of parliament”. She accused Lord Mayor Clover Moore (with whom Mr Greenwich is associated) of hypocrisy for retrospectively trying to fight the public housing sell-off.
“Each time I have moved motions calling on the City of Sydney to refuse to hand over our contribution to the Barangaroo Development Authority until public housing is secure, or motions seeking to have council place on record our opposition to the sale of public housing in Millers and Dawes Point, the Lord Mayor’s team has joined with the Liberal councillors to defeat my efforts,” Cr Scott said.