Below is Cr Doutney’s speech to Waterloo Housing residents at a public meeting on 15th June 2016:
Dear Waterloo residents,
Like you, I have strong apprehensions about the Coalition Government’s plans for our community. What is being proposed for Waterloo appears to be nothing short of a wide scale privatisation of our public space. The extraordinary number of new private dwellings that will be created in our neighbourhood will present serious challenges to our community. Such actions by State Government risk further aggravating the divide between social housing tenants and the private market. This will only serve to increase the inequality gap, as yet again, we are squeezed out of our community.
As a public housing resident myself I understand the anxiety over the uncertain future that this redevelopment represents. The social bonds that residents have forged in our diverse neighbourhood are critical to its success. It is vital that all residents are afforded a right of return as part of this process. My hope is that the staged redevelopment of the public housing stock can be managed so that our community can remain together.
After the long consultation period and promises of renewal as part of the Built Environment Plan 2, the Waterloo community are running low on their trust with the NSW Government, and rightly so. You have witnessed the mis-management of tenants at Millers Point and you are understandably sceptical of the Government’s promise to manage the relocation of your family and community in a sensitive manner.
What is critical at this time of uncertainty is that the community unites to support one another. We must stand together and demand better for our fellow tenants. Our public housing community may be home to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged – but through solidarity with our fellow tenants, we can force the Government to recognise and respond to our needs.
We need Urban Growth to recognise that housing is about more than providing boxes for people to live in. With the rapid increase in private dwellings it is vital that this community remains inclusive. The new metro station has been chosen for Waterloo because of the enormous opportunities it provides to developers, not to social housing. With the pressure of tens of thousands of new residents we must ensure that our community does not become a divided community or a space exclusively for those who can afford inner city housing prices. We don’t want to see a town centre where public housing tenants are unable to afford anything.
At the heart of this debate around competing interests is our access to public space. With the massive increase in private space, how much public space and green space will we have left? Have Urban Growth prioritised space for social and community amenities or will the opportunity for developer profit squeeze out these facilities? How does Urban Growth propose to manage the already existing divide between public housing tenants and private housing tenants?
If we stand together we have the power to change the answers to these questions. This challenge calls on us to be strong and persistent in our fight for our community. I am following this issue closely and I look forward to working with you to campaign for better outcomes.