Hundreds of supporters said farewell to Myra on Saturday. For months she has been the only resident of Sirius, and even though she is forced to leave she will continue to campaign for social and affordable housing in the city. She asks, ‘Are we to be the only major city in the world without public housing?’ On Saturday she was able to put this question to the media who had all come to hear her and to honour her.
Clover Moore has been at the centre of the campaign to save Sirius and all it represents for the city, and she thanked Myra for the way she has stood up for her community and for what she believes in.
Tanya Plibersek spoke about how Myra had helped to build this community for the sixty years she had lived in this part of the city. For all that time Myra has been a strong member of the local church, where she worked as a volunteer, and for thirty years ran the historical and military museum for the Garrison Church. Always the first to lend a hand, or to bake scones for the local community meeting, Myra knew what community meant, according to Tanya.
Alex Greenwich also spoke of Myra’s commitment to her community and the way her community had been taken from her. Alex then announced that Myra was to be Sydney Woman of the Year for 2018, and that the award will be made to her at state parliament.
Architect and city councillor Philip Thalis described how thoroughly the government had erased this community by highlighting not only its desire to remove Sirius from the landscape but also the way last year it had disposed of the State’s very first public housing flats around the corner in Lower Fort Street. These workers flats had been designed by the Government Architect Walter Vernon more than a century ago, and every government since had looked after them and maintained them for public housing, but this government emptied them, dispersed the residents and sold the buildings to the highest bidder.
Shaun Carter, Chairman of the Save Our Sirius Foundation, had one final announcement. After thanking Myra for her courage in standing up to the government to protect Sirius, he said the government has put Sirius up for sale and has called for Expressions of Interest. He said the government all along has said it is only interested in the money it can take from the sale of Sirius and it hopes for up to $100 million. The announcement from Shaun was that the Save Our Sirius Foundation will submit an Expression of Interest and will offer the government the full $100 million it is seeking, even if this is more than the value of Sirius. The Save Our Sirius Foundation will then oversee the refurbishment and restoration of Sirius before it is repopulated with a substantial component of social and affordable housing, and for evermore Myra’s apartment will be used to house another young woman and her family who will be welcomed into The Rocks and Millers Point community.
After the announcements, Clover and Ben Peake served Lamingtons from the giant Sirius cake that Margaret Bishop and John Dunn had made for the occasion; friends and supporters signed cards and posters and took photos with Myra; and at the end of the day Myra returned to her unit now filled with boxes and wondered what the next few days will bring when she moves to an unfamiliar area away from everyone she knows.