There are plenty of reasons to love living in Sydney. There’s the picture-perfect harbour; the glorious beaches; the lengthy summers and mild winters. We’ve a vibrant, multicultural population. But it’s not all unicorns and galahs.
Sydney is a city enslaved by the financial sector and in thrall to international property investors. Meanwhile, the government pillages public land and sells it off for a quick buck to developer mates and corporate cronies — Barangaroo being the perfect example of public land pimped out for private profit. “For them,” writes Elizabeth Farrelly on page 26, “with their predominately private-school educated, suburban-domiciled white male ministers, the city is just a cash cow to be milked, exploited.” All in the name of ‘renewal’ and ‘revitalisation’.
One of the best/worst examples of the government’s gluttony is the peddling off of the iconic Sirius building. Sold last year for $150 million to private investment firm JDH Capital, the public housing units are to become boutique luxury apartments. Nestled in The Rocks, Sirius was public housing at its purest: Aussie egalitarianism set in concrete. “Where some of Sydney’s most disadvantaged citizens shared multi-million-dollar waterfront views alongside film stars, prime ministers, and bombastic talkback hosts.” To the government, however, Sirius was nothing more than a land grab.
Then there’s the historic Franklyn Street estate in Glebe. Sitting on one of the original sites of Tom Uren’s ambitious plans for public housing in the city, the block is to be bulldozed and rebuilt in order to accommodate private units. At the same time, “The poor, working class, elderly and sick are being pushed out as the neoliberal state government pursues policies of gentrification by stealth.”
And it doesn’t stop there. Eveleigh, Waterloo, and the Ivanhoe estate in Macquarie Park have all been earmarked for redevelopment as the NSW government continues to procure public land on prime real estate. While the pollies spin their rapaciousness as a bid to renew public housing, the truth is, it’s about profiteering from it. To quote Elizabeth Farrelly once again, it’s time to end “the habitual prostitution of our public lands and buildings to private corporations”. It’s time to stop the relentless speed and sprawl and time to “start applying just a little more long-term wisdom”. The cash cow has been well and truly milked.
Christopher Kelly email@example.com