The new Minister for Social Housing Brad Hazzard met Millers Point residents* in Argyle Place a few weeks ago, agreed to meet us again and was quoted in the Herald saying, “I’m not ruling out trying to get more public housing in and around the Millers Point area.” This was very heartening news for the community. A week later, he met Flo and other community members in his offices and listened to some of the ways the grand old houses of Millers Point could be sold but the community left intact, with people moving to the more modest 20th-century flats specifically designed for workers and public housing, and in the short term concentrating on selling the houses already vacant before moving the remaining residents. At the end of that meeting, Minister Brad Hazzard said, “I’m certainly happy to go away and think about those ideas,” and Flo has been quoted responding, “I think he will do the very best he can for us.”
Within a week of meeting with the minister, Flo received a letter from the Millers Point Relocation Team Leader saying her Relocation Officer had tried to get in contact with her but was unable to do so, and without further contact they would proceed with her relocation process after two weeks, relying on the information they had already. Flo thinks they must have phoned her on a day she was out as she has not received a letter, a visit or any other communication. Flo phoned both the Relocation Team Leader and her own Relocation Officer, but neither of their numbers answered. Flo also had a mobile phone number. This was answered and Flo was able to speak to her Relocation Officer and tell her that Housing NSW and the Relocation Team had been advised they should contact the community legal officers to arrange meetings and discussion of how they were planning her relocation. This was checked with the Team Leader (who appears to have been at his desk at the time) and Flo received confirmation that this notification had been received. The Relocation Team has now contacted the community legal officers to proceed with plans for Flo’s relocation.
Representatives of Housing NSW attended the meeting between Brad Hazzard, Flo and other members of the Millers Point community, so it seems surprising that the Relocation Team is moving forward on plans for relocating Flo and other long-term residents while they are waiting to hear back from the minister who is considering alternatives so that they could stay in the Millers Point area.
Both the community and the government appear to be working together in good faith to save Millers Point. There were no protests over the auction of seven vacant Millers Point properties in the past month, and this will remain the same for another three properties currently advertised for sale. The minister should be given ample time to consider the government’s position, and the only request from the community is that there should be a pause in the relocation process while this occurs.
*Following advice from media contacts that the Minister was visiting the area, Paddi O’Leary, John Dunn and John McInerney met Brad Hazzard outside 50 Argyle Place on his first visit to Millers Point.