Welcome everyone. I’d like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of this land.
I hold these meetings so I can report directly to you, and you can hear directly from officers from Council, Housing NSW, Police and other agencies so they can take action on concerns.
To fix problems, we need to listen to each other and work together. There will be time for you to ask questions and raise concerns after the presentations. I also remind you that we don’t talk about individuals and their personal matters here, so some things have to be discussed in private after the meeting.
I welcome our speakers attending today, who will give you an update on their work and answer questions:
Superintendent Garry O’Dell, The Rocks Police Commander
Dominic Grenot, Public Housing Liaison Officer, City of Sydney
Mara Barnes and Norm Snowden, Save Millers Point Community Committee
Ron Jennings, Precinct Representative, Estate Advisory Board
Toni Rankin & Todd Murphy, Barangaroo Delivery Authority
Ceinwen Kirk and James Longfield, Lend Lease Barangaroo South
Alfio Torrisi, Crime Prevention Officer, Surry Hills Police Command
Charmaine Jones & David White, Inner Sydney Regional Council for Social Development
Representatives from the Millers Point Estate Advisory Board
Save Millers Point Community Committee
Also here are Leanne Abbott and Tessa Whittle from my Electorate Office.
I will give a brief presentation and then hand over to our speakers. We will have time for you to ask questions and raise concerns, and you are welcome to join us for afternoon tea afterwards.
Parliament is closed until after the election on 26 March. There are enrolment forms and postal voting application forms at the back of the room if you or anyone you know needs them.
In the last session of Parliament, I asked Questions about oral health services for low income earners and the waiting times for public dental treatment; and about legal advice and financial counselling for disadvantaged people who cannot afford to pay for this help. Copies of my Questions and petitions are at the back of the room.
Millers Point Property Sales
The Government continues to sell 99 year leases on public housing homes in Millers Point, despite my request to the Minister to keep inner city social housing, and the strong opposition from Council and residents. We need public housing in the inner city where there is good transport, jobs and support services that people need.
The Minister has responded to my letters and petitions in Parliament opposing the sales and says the Government will still go ahead. The Government has sold four more homes since we last met, with two auctioned last week. While the Minister states that no tenants will be evicted as part of the sales program, I know that some tenants remain concerned that Housing NSW will find reasons to move you and then sell your home. I know you are angry that the Government has shown little regard for residents and the unique local community you have built.
There are thousands of people waiting for housing, and I will continue to lobby the Government to stop selling housing, and to address the maintenance backlog in your area. Given the upcoming election, I think it will be most useful to do this when a new Minister for Housing is appointed.
There are representatives here today from the Save Millers Point Community Committee, Mara Barnes and Norm Snowden and you can speak with them about helping the campaign.
Residents tell me that the Minister for Housing recently changed the status of the boarding house at 61 Lower Fort Street to an ordinary dwelling and sold it. This is a shocking situation where the Minister has said they need to sell properties because they are derelict and unable to be lived in, but the sale of 61 Lower Fort Street shows this is not the case.
I understand that other boarding houses have become vacant too, and could be at risk of being sold. I have asked for information about the future of boarding houses in Millers Point but have not received a response. These boarding houses are not vacant and are not derelict like some other properties that Housing NSW has not looked after. They can provide housing for people who need something temporary or don’t want to set up a new home, and I oppose any sales.
At the City’s February meeting with Housing NSW, officers discussed the retirement of Dr Shearer who has served the community for many years. Having local medical services is important, and I want Housing NSW to help get another doctor for this area and support them to with premises to operate locally.
I am pleased that Housing NSW is continuing with maintenance work planned for High Street, Windmill Street, Dalgety Street, Kent Street and Gloucester Street.
I was saddened to hear that local resident and volunteer Terry Ashton-Wood passed away in January. Terry used his passion for theatre and the arts to engage young people in positive activities, and will be missed. Terry was a Precinct Representative on the Estate Advisory Board, working to help his neighbours.
Your Estate Advisory Board meets every two months to discuss concerns and work to get better outcomes for tenants. Tenants represent different zones in Millers Point, Dawes Point and The Rocks and volunteer their time on the Board to I thank all the precinct representatives for the time and energy they put into sorting out problems and supporting tenants.
I believe that there are some vacancies on the Estate Advisory Board, and you should talk to David White from the Inner Sydney Regional Council if you are interested in getting involved.
We welcome Superintendent Gary O’Dell to the Commander’s job for The Rocks Police. He’s come from the eastern suburbs and had a stint in Surry Hills, so he’s aware of some of our inner city concerns.
Residents have told me about vandalism to cars parked on Cumberland Street. I followed this up with The Rocks Police, who tell me that there have not been reports of damage to cars there over the past seven months. It is important that you report crime and anti-social behaviour to police as soon as possible so that they can take action and prevent problems.
I have asked Commander Garry O’Dell to give us an update on crime and police action.
Many Millers Point residents are concerned about the lack of public transport in the area. After a big campaign and my Questions and petitions in Parliament, the Government is running a trial extension of the 433 bus service down Hickson Road to Walsh Bay. I hope that you will use this bus service so the Government will see that better transport is needed.
Residents have raised concerns that local bus services are reduced or stopped on weekends and public holidays due to the expansion of The Rocks markets. The Minister for Transport claims that the changes cause only minor inconvenience to bus users and that it is not safe for the large buses to run in both directions on Cumberland Street. The Minister does not propose to change these arrangements.
Everyone needs good transport, especially for shopping and medical appointments, and I will continue to work on getting better transport.
The City of Sydney has worked with the State Government to try and get the best outcome on this significant site – even though the State Government took control of Barangaroo under Part 3A of the Planning Act. Despite the way the State Government have undermined community involvement in planning, we have to try to influence the project as much as we can, to make it as good as it can be for Sydney and its people.
As a result of Council's submissions construction hours have been reduced in line with the City's standard construction hours; bicycle facilities will be required in the car park; and dilapidation reports for surrounding heritage items are a condition of consent.
Despite these small wins, there are still basic concerns like the hotel in the harbour, inadequate public transport, massive building footprints, Building heights, inadequate affordable housing, and narrow public streets.
Earlier this year, the State Government removed community oversight of the clean-up of contamination, by taking control of City-owned land at Hickson Road, Sussex Street and Napoleon Street near Barangaroo. This ignores the City's strong record on urban design and puts the quality of public domain, future sustainable transport and promised pedestrian links at risk. I remain concerned about risk of contamination during the excavation, and the City's independent review of the proposed remediation technology found that there are not enough safeguards and contingencies in place.
A project of this significance, scale and complexity demands a considered, careful and open process of planning and assessment.
I have invited representatives here today from Lend Lease and the Barangaroo Delivery Authority to update you on site work, the next steps in the project and where you can get information and answers to questions about the development.
Council continues our greening and beautification program with returfing on Observatory Hill. Council will again host Good Neighbourhood BBQs in 2011 with the first one on Wednesday 16 March 11am-2pm at The Paddock. The City continues to run activities for older people and young people, and Dom will give you more information in his report.
This is our last meeting before the election on 26 March. I want to say that I have been proud to serve this community in my role as MP, and more recently as Lord Mayor. I have enjoyed working with all those who help make your area a better place to live and to visit. There are many inspiring people here.
Working together with agencies and organisations, tenants have improved safety and amenity, and helped many tenants who are having a hard time or need a hand.
I thank you for your support.