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The Hat Factory on Wilson Street, Newtown.

Tension over Newtown’s Hat Factory resurfaces

Tensions over Newtown’s Hat Factory continued into the auction room earlier this month.

Following the contentious eviction of squatters earlier this year, the abandoned warehouse at Wilson St Newtown known as the Hat Factory was sold at auction for $1.725 million.

On the weekend of the factory’s sale, Cooley Auctions headquarters in Double Bay was graffitied and its locks were super glued shut.

Statements such as “Evict the rich” were spray painted on the windows of Cooley Auctions.

On the same day as the auction of the Hat Factory, several public housing properties in Millers Point were also auctioned off.

Ben Hall, a former squatter at the Hat Factory said he did not know if the events were linked but understands the community’s frustration over the auctions.

“This used to be a working class area. Just because you have money, why do you have the right to force people out of their homes?”

In response to the sale, various posters have appeared at the Hat Factory, both defending the previous squatters and attacking them.

One poster criticised “local freeloaders” of throwing a “major dummy spit” because their “free ride” was over.

Mr Hall was unaware of these posters but said: “Any of those people who are annoyed about the squatters at the Hat Factory are the same type of people complaining about those in Wentworth Park: People who have money and think they have the right to everything money can buy.”

“Loads of rich upper class people moved to the area and they are not all sympathetic with having a squat nearby.”

Mr Hall said the Hat Factory incident was not unique and that this kind of action was happening across Sydney, with social demographics changing and typically working class areas transforming.

By Emily Contador-Kelsall

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