Termites’ million-dollar feast

Recently the government auctioned a grand 1830s Georgian house in Argyle Place that had been used for public housing until recently. This was one of the Millers Point mansions the community has been calling on the government to sell: it is too valuable to keep and the government has shown it is unable to look after these important heritage houses.

Interior photos show that the property was well looked after by its public housing tenants, but its owner, the NSW Government, failed to maintain it. Several floors have been eaten through by termites and are now too dangerous to walk on; the joists are likely to have been eaten out as well; and the rare timber screens on the front verandah are almost entirely lost to insect damage.





This house is much less damaged by insect attack than others in the area which have suffered by being located on what Housing NSW staff call the Millers Point Termite Highway. Nonetheless, insects have eaten what is likely to cost the new owner a million dollars to repair. The financial loss is great, and the heritage loss is irreplaceable.

The new Minister for Social Housing, Brad Hazzard is looking at ways to save the community while selling these Millers Point mansions. The community has solutions that will allow residents to remain in the modest workers flats and the Sirius apartments which were purpose built for social housing. These later buildings are mostly in good condition. The family from this house were relocated away from the area, but this could be the last family to be forced from Millers Point.

Below are photos of other properties on Millers Point’s Termite Highway. People who viewed one of these properties in the lead up to its auction were required to sign a waiver before entering, were allowed only four at a time within the property, and only one at a time on the staircase which was in danger of collapse; they were required to wear hard hats for the duration of their visit. The other photos show part of a termite nest discovered after the government sold another local property, and an interior photo indicating the extent of the damage these termites had caused.




termites LFS+

4 Responses to Termites’ million-dollar feast

  1. Neil Blanch 2 June 2015 at 11:53 pm #

    This is demolition by neglect. Exactly the same thing is happening right now in Glebe and the government is denying tenants access to pest control. I have personally seen a house where there is a huge termite mound in a tenant’s bedroom. Termites would drop from the ceiling onto her bed at night so she sleeps in the kitchen. I have seen another house where the roof is in serious danger of collapse. Neither house has been approved for pest control. What’s the bet these properties will end up condemned, the tenants moved to god knows where, and the government will sell them to their developer mates?

    • JohnD 3 June 2015 at 10:27 am #

      That is terrible that nobody is removing termite nests, even when they are found and reported. It is not just old houses that can be attacked by insects; this could happen to new houses as well. You would think that any organisation that owns houses that include timber construction would have a systematic program to avoid having their assets destroyed by their own neglect. Perhaps the government should be asked to explain how it is unable to look after these properties.

  2. Justin Brash 5 January 2016 at 10:10 pm #

    “This was one of the Millers Point mansions the community has been calling on the government to sell”

    I beg your pardon? Which community? There was no community consultation, this was purely a LNP government call. The community was outraged if anything, that old people who had lived in the area for life, or many decades, were being forced out.

    If anything, the community was calling for the Government to back off.


  1. What they say in Parliament - MILLERS POINT - 1 September 2016

    […] Kevin was one of the relocated residents who said thank you for his new home. This statement by the Minister for Aging indicates a properly researched and presented study of the effects of relocating residents from Millers Point is needed. Watch this space – there will be a proper study soon, and more questions for the Minister for Aging. In relation to the answer he gave for a question that was not asked, it should be remembered that it was the Millers Point community that called on the government to sell the heritage houses in Millers Point that it was destroying by its actions. […]

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