Millers Point Public Tenants Meeting

(2pm 5 June 2012, Abraham Mott Hall)

I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities that make up our city.

I hold these meetings so I can report directly to you, and you can hear directly from Council, Housing NSW, Police and other agencies so they can take action on concerns.

There will be time for you to ask questions and raise concerns after the presentations. Some matters may have to be discussed in private after the meeting.

I welcome our speakers and representatives here.

Speakers:

  • Superintendent Garry O'Dell, The Rocks Police Commander
  • Toni Rankin, Community Team & Phil Paris, Director, Barangaroo Delivery Authority
  • Alisa Curson, Community Relations Manager from Lend Lease, Barangaroo South
  • Clive Bradshaw, Acting Area Director, Housing NSW
  • Ron Jennings, Precinct Representative, Estate Advisory Board
  • Harbour North Public Domain Study Officers (TBC)
  • Dominic Grenot, Public Housing Liaison Officer, City of Sydney

Other representatives:

  • Jackie Smith, Customer Service Duty Officer, The Rocks Police Command
  • Lynda Duncan, Team Leader, Housing NSW
  • City of Sydney officers, Laurie Johnson (Harbour North Study), Tye McMahon (upgrade to Abe Mott and Harry Jensen)
  • Charmaine Jones Inner Sydney Regional Council (TBC)
  • Representatives from the Millers Point Estate Advisory Board

Also here are Leanne Abbott, and Tessa Whittle from my Electorate Office and Ciara O'Riordan from my Town Hall office.

I will start by reporting on some of my work, and then ask our guests to update you and answer questions.

Since we last met the Government has introduced legislation that stops me from continuing to represent you as both State Member of Parliament and Lord Mayor of Sydney after the Council elections in September (Saturday 8 September). Constituents voted in March 2011 and will again have the opportunity to vote again in September as to whether you believe I should continue in both roles. I believe the Government should be putting its efforts into providing the transport, schools and hospitals we need, rather than using its numbers in Parliament to silence critics.

I committed to running for Lord Mayor of Sydney with an independent team prior to the legislation being introduced, and I plan to honour this commitment.

I am pleased that the Government has agreed to continue funding the Regional Council for Social Development to provide support for Estate Advisory Boards in the inner city.

Your Neighbourhood Advisory Board representatives meet every two months with Housing NSW, Council and Police officers to discuss concerns and get results for tenants. They represent different areas of Millers Point, Dawes Point and The Rocks and volunteer their time on the Board. I thank them for their work sorting out problems and supporting tenants.

I believe that there are some vacancies on the Estate Advisory Board, which may mean your street is not directly represented on the Board. You should talk to David from Regional Council, Dom or one of your current representatives if you are interested in getting involved.

In Parliament, I have repeatedly asked the Government to improve public transport in your area, and for action on inner city community transport for people with disabilities, and limited mobility. I know limited transport options particularly on weekends make it difficult for you to get to shops, medical appointments and other services. I will continue to ask the government to improve public transport in your area.

The City of Sydney is increasing our funding for shuttle buses, with a new three-day-a-week Village to Village Shuttle between Dawes Point and Camperdown, expanding transport older residents and other socialising destinations and new shopping services for transport disadvantaged people who don't meet the Home and Community Care (HACC) program requirements. New community transport services will be rolled out over the next four years.

You can contact South Sydney Community Transport to find out about the current services they offer - there are brochures at the back of the room.

We are going to work with community transport providers to increase individual and medical transport options because we know that mainstream public transport does not work for some people.

I continue to ask Government Ministers about issues affecting you, including how they manage waiting lists to Housing Pathways, about education, training and jobs for public tenants, repairs and maintenance including gutters, Housing NSW appeals, reducing your energy and water costs and increasing affordable housing in the inner city.

I know many of you are concerned about the future of your community with the Government continuing with the sale of the 20 Millers Point homes announced in 2010.

I have repeatedly asked Ministers to stop selling inner city public housing and properly look after homes in this heritage area. I understand that there are four more homes to be sold as part of stage two of the sales program, with many more homes vacant and facing an uncertain future. Properties at 23 & 29 Lower Fort Street did not sell at the scheduled May auction.

Both the Minister for Family and Community Services and the Minister for Finance and Services keep telling me that the Government is reviewing in Millers Point sales.

I have asked to take a delegation of Millers Point tenants to meet the Minister, but she has not responded despite chasing this up. I'll keep pushing for a face to face discussion with the Minister.

There has been some major maintenance work done in Gloucester Street, Lower Fort Street, Trinity Avenue, High Street and Kent Street over the last few years, however there is more work to be done to maintain public housing properties.

A lack of long term funding for Housing NSW has left a backlog of maintenance and repair work and the inner city has some of the oldest social housing properties so this is impacting badly on places like Millers Point. I continue to ask Questions in Parliament and make representations on behalf of individual tenants about repairs needed, And will keep pushing for the Government to put more funds into public housing.

The Government has split Housing NSW into two, with the tenancy teams who deal with you separate from the assets teams who deal with the properties. This means your local tenancy team has less say in the maintenance of the properties they manage.

Tenants still need to report maintenance concerns directly to the Housing Contact Centre, who organise inspections and repairs. The Housing NSW officers here cannot tell you about your maintenance requests. In case of problems, you should call the Housing Contact Centre with your reference number and ask them about progress.

Earlier this year I launched the Redfern Legal Centre's Repair Kit for Housing NSW tenants. The Repair Kit helps you understand the process to get action.

I am proud that my Lord Mayoral Salary Trust could fund Redfern Legal Centre to design and print this kit. Leanne from my Electorate Office has some copies of the kit here today if you would like one.

I regularly hear back from Housing NSW that a lot of problems and needed repairs have not been reported, and remind you that you have to call the Housing Contact Centre to report maintenance problems and get a reference number. Housing NSW cannot fix things if you don't tell them!

The Memorandum of Understanding or MOU between the City and Housing NSW helps us solve problems, with senior staff meeting monthly to prevent crime and improve safety, plan community events, improve parks and public spaces, improve waste management, encourage responsible pet ownership and better communicate with residents.

Copies of my speeches, questions, letters and ministers' answers are on the table at the back of the room.

With The Greens in the Legislative Council, I am introducing legislation for a drink container deposit scheme. The bill would add a 10 cent levy on drink containers that is refunded when you return the bottle. This is what has been working in South Australia for 30 years, which has achieved recycling rates of up to 90 per cent.

Container deposit schemes cut council costs because councils deal with less waste and recycling meaning fewer truck movements, less sorting and less litter. Recycling collection depots create better ways to deal with other waste like e-waste and chemicals.

Please sign my petition if you think this is a good idea. I have submitted petitions, asked questions and given speeches about this for many years, and will continue to push for reform to prevent waste.

In May the City completed upgrades to the Abraham Mott Youth Centre and Hall, and the Harry Jensen Centre. Upgrades include painting, new carpet, new office space, fixing timber floors, new Hall windows for better ventilation and light, refurbishment of kitchen in Mott Hall including new stove, fridge, Zip boiler, dishwasher and fridge, new TV room and public computers in the Harry Jenson Centre. Further work will soon be carried out to Upgrade the electrical switchboard and CCTV for the Harry Jensen Centre.

The City of Sydney consulted with residents on village planning earlier this year. Council officers are collating the thousands of actions suggested by community members and assessing their feasibility. They will then prepare a draft priorities list of actions for consideration by Council in mid 2012.

Responsible pet ownership is important for pets, owners, neighbours and the wider community. Many tenants own pets, and need to learn about how to take good care of them. The fifth annual Pet Day will be held in September this year, and provides an opportunity for pets to get free worming, vet checks and giveaways, discount micro chipping, while their owners enjoyed a free BBQ.

Dom will provide more information about what is planned for this year in his report. Mental Health Month in October is an opportunity to educate and raise awareness about these issues, and the Inner City Mental Health Recovery Working Group is organising activities for Mental Health Month. Dom can tell you about these too.

The City's Seniors team produce our GOLD - Growing Old, Living Dangerously - brochure twice a year. Brochures are available here today and at the Harry Jenson Centre. You'll find they have a terrific list of free and low cost programs.

I know many of you would have shared my concern about media reports earlier this year about a casino proposal for the Barangaroo site. No plans for a casino have been submitted yet to the Department of Planning, but this is not consistent with the current approval.I have worked hard to get a positive outcome with Barangaroo, and the Government's review in 2011 backed many improvements that the City's planning experts had suggested, including reducing density and scale, better consultation, communication and transparency; sustainability and environment protection for remediation; reviewing the hotel site over the Harbour; and more affordable housing for key workers.

A quality development at Barangaroo is critical to our City's future and will have a big impact on your area, and I hope that the Government's support for change gets a better outcome and an integrated transport plan for Barangaroo. There are representatives here today from both the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and Lend Lease Barangaroo South who can answer any questions you may have.

In 2011 the City of Sydney started consulting with you about creating a village centre around the City's community facility and building on the unique economies in Millers Point, Walsh Bay and The Rocks. The Harbour Village North Public Domain Study will also include planning to help manage the future impacts expected from the Barangaroo development. The Council has approved projects to commence work over the next 10 years.The short term projects are:

  • Improvements to Observatory Park pedestrian access, grass maintenance, fitness equipment, toilets and a long term master plan for fitness groups and events;
  • Upgrading Argyle Street with better pedestrian access on Lower Fort to Kent Street, relocation of the bus layover and a playground;
  • Upgrading Dalgety Road and Towns Place including safer pedestrian and cycle facilities;
  • Upgrading the Kent Street underpass for better visibility;
  • A shared zone across the Clarence Street slipway;
  • Upgrading pocket parks; and
  • Improving visibility and kerbs and gutters in Gas Lane.

Detailed plans for each project will be drawn up and put on exhibition for your feedback before going to Council. I hope you will make comments on the plans for each project to make sure that we can improve your area without losing the special heritage character.Thank you to everyone who took part in the initial consultations.

If you have not already, please sign the attendance sheet at the back of the room and let me know if you would like to get my weekly email newsletter. I can also post these to you if you don't use email - so put a note if you would like it by mail.

I also have a number of petitions at the back of the room that you might like to sign, including asking for the container deposit scheme, to retain inner city social housing and provide mental health support for public housing tenants, and transport through this area. Leanne has spare copies if you are able to collect signatures from others who are not here today.

If you have individual concerns, feedback or issues to raise that were not able to be discussed today, please fill out the feedback section on the back of today's agenda and return to Leanne, Ciara or Tessa from my office.

I invite everyone to stay for afternoon tea.