By CHRISTOPHER HARRIS
The long battle for Millers Point residents against the state government to remain in their homes might be coming to an end, with early signs suggesting the residents may be the victors.
City Hub can reveal last Thursday NSW Christian Democrat MLC Fred Nile, who holds the balance of power, visited some of the 100 residents and said the government must allow them to stay in the area.
Speaking to City Hub, he was critical of the government’s “lack of humanity” in how they had handled the issue.
The move comes after Social Housing Minister Brad Hazzard wrote to Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich on August 4, stating that the relocation of certain residents and alternative options could be reconsidered due to “extenuating circumstances”.
“While the timing of relocations remains geared to making properties available for sale as quickly as possible, following representation and discussions of which you are well aware, I am actively considering the question of whether there should be exceptions, extensions or alternative measures for tenants in particular extenuating circumstances,” Mr Hazzard wrote.
Mr Hazzard’s office did not respond to City Hub’s questions.
The Baird Government started selling off homes in the suburb last year, on the premise that the revenue from each house could build three new social housing dwellings.
But the decision about evicting the remaining tenants could be out of the government’s hands, as Mr Nile said he was committed to helping the group of mainly elderly residents.
He said the most import issue surrounding the sell off of property in Millers Point was to accommodate and allow the remaining residents to continue in living in that area.
He said one option was to make to Sirius building be made available to residents.
“The Sirius building that they’re cleaning the residents out of, which is a very strong, well built building, could be used to maintain that village atmosphere for remaining residents of Millers Point,” he said.
“That would be my proposal for the remaining 100 or so residents that they should either live in their homes or be transferred to the Sirius building.
“[It should] be maintained and painted white as it was originally designed by the architect, instead of in that very dirty grey colour which it is at the moment.”
He said it was a cruel situation that current residents who had been moved by Housing NSW to Liverpool and Bankstown were travelling back every day to visit friends and be around the remaining residents.
“I am pretty critical of the government’s lack of humanity in how they’ve handled this entire issue,” he said.
Chairman of the Millers Point, Dawes Point, The Rocks and Walsh Bay Resident Action Group John McInerney wanted to know the details of the minister’s exceptions and extenuating circumstances, and welcomed the visit from Reverend Nile.
“We believe we recently had a victory after a visit from Fred Nile and it was very productive, and he has told us he is going to help all those remaining,” he said.
“We haven’t actually heard any positive results up till now from all our proposals and suggestions, and this is first time we have indication of possible positive response.”
He said the government will have difficulty moving the remaining residents because they were committed to staying in the area.
“So they will have to be physically ejected from their houses, particularly if it’s a 70 year old woman. Are they going to throw her out on the street?”
“The bulk of remaining residents are elderly and dependent on the current community for physical and emotional support, and they will have difficulty getting that if they’re forced to move to a new area, because it is hard to get new connections at that age.”
Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich welcomed the political actions and said forced evictions was a dangerous move.
“Millers Point has been a safe and stable home for many tenants who are aged, frail and have complex needs. Forced evictions of these tenants would cause avoidable harm to their health and mental health,” he said.
“I appreciate the time the minister [Brad Hazzard] has taken to meet with and hear from the residents of Millers Point and his compassionate consideration of alternatives that could keep some tenants in the community they have built.”