Baird’s Privatisation of Public Housing labelled a disgrace! jan 24 2016

Baird’s Privatisation of Public Housing labelled a disgrace!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The ten year framework on public housing released today is a recipe for more disadvantage and more unaffordability in the housing market.  The Hands off Glebe group a public housing advocate group situated in the suburb of Glebe but with links to many other groups across NSW condemns the outright theft of public property to aid the developer, the construction companies and NOT the people who need a home.

“Covered by smooth words and a few tidbits of genuine progressive ideas is the bare faced theft  of the property of the people and bestowed on the rich, a move taken straight from the neo liberal manual of less government and socialism for the wealthy.”  Said Denis Doherty of the Hands off Glebe group.

“The private sector cannot solve the housing crisis neither can ‘Housing providers’, the framework is a con designed to obscure theft and leave unaffordability a more entrenched problem for the years to come.

“Framework contains phrases such as ‘community housing providers would do a great job’, long on wishful thinking and low on reality.  It is obvious that ‘community housing providers’ have to run on a profit to enable them to grow and maintain the maintenance costs.  Like private hospitals, difficult clients and the most expensive are left to the public sector to fix while the best or most able to pay rent are taken by the private sector.

“$2 million on childcare is ‘chicken feed’ compared to the support services needed.  $2 million would only build one or two childcare centres.  The TAFE system has been run down so comprehensively by this Government yet it is expected to give damaged people the ability to lift themselves up by the bootlaces.  Wishful thinking at best and at worst according the well-worn practice of past housing ministers in this liberal NSW Government weasel words.  Shameful!

“‘Mix’ is another weasel word which in reality means nothing.  Wherever private housing is next to social housing, the private owners team up to build a fence to make the separation real between them and those in social housing.

“Old stock contains some of the most important heritage cottages and architectural icons of the past century and the bulldozing of them will not please anyone let alone those among the population who value our urban heritage.

“The stock is in a shocking state we agree but we add that is because past State and Federal Governments have allowed the stock to deteriorate, the auditor General said two years ago that the present Government was $300 million behind in its maintenance tasks.  Despite earning nearly $1 billion a month during the housing boom the Baird Government cynically refused to invest in public housing and maintenance.  Instead they spent it or are spending it on ‘white elephants’ such as the ‘Westconnex’.

We call on the Baird Government to think again about public housing and its objectionable ‘ten year framework’ which will usher in an even more disadvantaged underclass in this state than we have at present!

We call on the Baird Government to first of all set about housing those on the waiting list, the homeless, and to invest in maintenance of the present stock of social housing.  When this is nearing completion it will be time to think of a fair and just ten year scheme for public housing.

A British commentator speaking of the housing crisis in the UK made a comment that can equally be applied here:  “We are in a housing crisis that extends from the homeless on the street well into the middle class.  We have couples deciding not to have children because they do not have the space to house them.  We have people paying extortionate rents,  Yet ministers just sit there like gouty old men in the 19th hole.

Nick Cohen Spectator.  (UK)

For more information:  contact Denis Doherty 0418 290 663 or Julie Brackenreg 0401 516 482

Visit our website:

Or our Facebook page:  hands off glebe

Get your submissions in on Cowper/Elger Sts Jan 2016

ggalert January 2016

click on this link to get a pdf of our submission aid for Social Housing at Cowper/Elger Sts Glebe.

Urgent Urgent send off to the council by Jan 15 2016

Here is the text of our emergency alert

Glebe Grapevine Alert





The NSW Government has lodged a development application for a new high rise public housing development in Elger and Bay Streets to coincide with the holiday break.

Over 110 mostly one bedroom units will tower up to 9 storeys against 19th Century dwellings along the rear of Queen Street, Glebe with another 48 in Elger Street, showing little concern for existing residents and future tenants.

The apartments will be little more than cells for the many aged and disabled residents expected to live there.

There will be no parking for residents, their carers, service providers or visitors. The City of Sydney’s new “scratchies” visitor parking permits will further isolate residents.


Most of the bedrooms in this development will have no direct light. Those with windows will look south into the flats and backyards of houses along Queen Street. Most units will have no sunlight, even in their living areas.

Units fronting Bay Street will be subject to noise levels in their rooms equal to a vacuum cleaner operating, even with windows closed. These noise levels are known to cause serious ill health and breach the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy for residential development adjoining busy roads.

Traffic will be allowed to flow from Bay Street into the development and then on to the rest of the Glebe Estate, nullifying the traffic plan devised for the Broadway development and endangering young and older residents particularly.

The proportion of two bedroom to one bedroom units is very small. The lack of family units means that families with school aged children that used to live on this site will be absent.

The bathrooms are exceptionally small and are not suited for the elderly, especially those who may need Community Care help to shower.

The kitchens are really kitchenettes and it is not clear how much storage space will be accessible to elderly residents. The lack of any living space that is screened from the kitchen area is also a problem.

There do not appear to be any laundries or any open drying areas around the buildings. There is no provision for each unit to have their own washing machine – the bathrooms and kitchens are too small. Communal laundries are a common cause of conflict among residents.


The total lack of car spaces is scandalous. There needs to be far more space for visitors parking – health and community care workers need immediate access. There should be provision for underground parking, Council would not approve any other development of this size without this provision.

The State government and the City of Sydney (which has promoted this development from the start) have demonstrated once again their contempt for the existing and future residents.

Perfectly sound and suitable public housing was demolished to be replaced by cramped sunless boxes. There is very little open space.

And that’s just the start. Private developers will add many more high rise units on the land sold off. It’s just another example of dollars before people.


The sale will do nothing to address the housing shortage in Sydney. The NSW Government has privatised over 50 per cent of the Cowper/Elger Street site by selling to a Singaporean developer, Roxy Pacific.

Most units are expected to be sold to overseas investors and are likely to lead to an increase in short-term leasing.

This certainly won’t create a sense of community within the area.

All of the site was formerly occupied by public housing.

The new public housing is to be crammed into about one quarter of the site (see above).



If you feel as we do about this new blot on the Glebe landscape, sign the objection below and post it to the City of Sydney, GPO Box 1591, Sydney 2001.

Your objection should be lodged by 15 January. If you are late, lodge it anyway. Please feel free to add you own comments.


I/We, the undersigned, object to the new development (D/2015/1794) at Elger Street, Glebe. We agree with the view attached to this objection (see above) and would like to add:








The Grapevine October 2015

GG October 2015

click here to down load pdf of October Issue

text of  Glebe Grapevine October 2015

You heard it here!

October 2015



Public Housing


Around 460 Ivanhoe public housing residents at Macquarie Park are devastated at the news that they will be moved out to make way for 2,500 apartments in blocks up to 120 metres high on the site.

The plan for a new high rise, high density estate is very similar to the plans we have been fighting for the Cowper Street estate.

Ivanhoe Estate Tenant Group Secretary Marie Sillars said it is unlikely the residents will return and the “community will be finished. It is a beautiful community here and we’re all very sad.”

Social Housing Minister Brad Hazzard says the private sector will be engaged to develop the site into a mix of social, affordable and private housing. This is effectively privatising public housing.

This is the State Government’s policy for social housing: sell off more public assets, demolish public housing and hand estates over for redevelopment to the private sector. Communities will be destroyed but private developers will make large profits.

Unelected Bureaucrats

Given Sydney Planning Power

A bunch of unelected technocrats whose jobs don’t depend on your vote could soon decide alter the face of Glebe and other Sydney suburbs. Planning rules for could be radically changed by people who just don’t care what you think.

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes has announced a new planning body that will carve metropolitan Sydney into six districts. Called the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC), its 13 appointees, including the heads of Treasury, Transport and Planning, will “streamline” the delivery of major government infrastructure, particularly projects such as the WestConnex which extends across multiple council areas. “Our model seeks to depoliticise planning decisions by having a board that does not need to seek re-election,” Mr Stokes said. So much for democracy!

Each of the six districts will be represented by a commissioner chosen by local councils but elected mayors, councillors and MPs will not be eligible. The other seven will be appointed by the State government.

There is a need to co-ordinate future growth but not by 13 people totally unaccountable to the millions of residents whose suburbs will be in the GSC’s sights. These unelected members of the GSC can make major decisions that override the wishes of elected local councils.

Not surprisingly, the big end of town, represented by the Property Council and the Sydney Business Chamber, has welcomed the new commission.

Time to Rethink Housing

We all know about the shortage of affordable housing. A wealthy society like ours must provide adequate housing for all. Renters are mainly on average incomes and from younger and lower incomes groups and renting in the private sector is both unaffordable and insecure. The tax system and government incentives hugely favour home ownership. These measures are inequitable and have not resulted in adequate housing supply.

We propose a new model for housing. Governments must increase the stock of rental housing with security of tenure for renters.

With a large enough stock of rental properties administered by housing co-operatives or government, revenue from those who can afford market rent can help subsidise renters on lower incomes.

Time to Rethink Housing

Continued from page 2

Once a large enough stock of rental only housing of this type is created it would be largely self funding with governments co-ordinating the raising of finance with guarantees to lenders and providing administration directly or through co-operatives and making sure social housing supply kept up with demand. We’ll post more detail on our website about our model soon.


Grateful thanks

Hands off Glebe, publishers of the Glebe Grapevine, are really grateful to three tenants in Mitchell Street. They heard we needed money to get this issue printed. To say thanks for the help we gave them with maintenance problems, they clubbed together and donated $60. We are really touched by their gesture. Many thanks.

Thanks for community action on Cowper Street

The Glebe Grapevine has circulated a protest letter about the selloff of public land at the Cowper Street development. In a great response about 200 letters have been signed and sent to the Minister and no doubt more were sent in without our knowledge. Contact us if you would like some copies to sign and send in.

We have also had a good response to a protest letter about traffic flows on the Glebe Estate. The danger is that traffic from Bay Street and the new development on Cowper will greatly increase traffic within the Glebe estate. We are contacting nearby residents to gauge opinion about this. Sign our petition when we call if you are concerned.

Glebe Grapevine Appeal

The Glebe Grapevine reports on development in Glebe, advocates for public housing, supports the heritage and village character of Glebe … and much more

It is your local newsletter and it needs your help

It costs us $500 to print 5,000 copies every second month.

We need your donations to make sure we can pay the printing costs

Please send your cheque or money order to P.O. Box 145, Glebe NSW 2037

or make a direct transfer to

Bank: G & C Mutual Bank. BSB: 659-000. Account number: 755116.

Account name: Hands off Glebe – Grapevine


Hands off Glebe chalks up successes

Hands off Glebe and Glebe Estate tenants have combined to act on long standing maintenance issues. We have had good results for tenants in Phillips, Mitchell and Catherine Streets and Wentworth Park Road.

We sometimes expand our reach. For example, with a water leak we write to Sydney Water and the relevant Minister. We even contacted the Ombudsman once!

Usually, a tenant approaches us and Denis Doherty from HoG then visits the house in question to list of the repairs needed. This is then sent with a letter to the Minister, local MP Jamie Parker, and the Land and Housing Assets Manager.

In early August, Hands off Glebe met the Regional Asset Director – South East Region from the NSW Land & Housing Corporation (LAHC). At that time we agreed that we would send any complaints directly to him and that he had two weeks for some action. If nothing had been done by that deadline, Hands off Glebe would send the complaint to the Minister and the MP again.

Following our maintenance complaints, the following steps have been taken (A fuller report is on our website):

2 Derwent Street – a sewer choke caused by tree roots has been cleared.

A longstanding stormwater leak at 105 Glebe Street/ 67 Mitchell Street. Currently Housing and Council are consulting to resolve the issue. We will stay on the case until it’s fixed.

Franklyn Street, Units 25-28 common area – Peter Wright from Hands off Glebe sent photos to Housing of damage including wall and pavement damage, and water damage in common areas. Repair work is proceeding and the target date for completion is 30 September.

Derwent Street – work initiated by resident Adam Bower to respond to vegetation management continuing; to be completed by 30 November 2015.

Joanna O’Dea complex in Camperdown – paint peeling in a common area laundry and exhaust fan broken. Resident Michael Reeves reports these as now fixed. Michael has been an advocate for his fellow tenants at Joanna O’Dea.

We believe that no Glebe tenants should be driven out
of their homes by poor maintenance.



Grapevine April 2015

download April Grapevine

April 2015 Grapevine


April 2015

Four more years of attacks on public housing

Since its re-election the Baird Government has offered no solutions to high house prices, high rents, and public housing sell offs. In Sydney, growth in rents is outstripping growth in income. Only the wealthy are able to afford decent housing.

The new Minister with responsibility for housing, Brad Hazzard, was previously the Minister for Planning, We hope to meet with him soon.

Jamie Parker, our local MP, has been re-elected and will be joined by new Green member Jenny Leong (Newtown). We look forward to working with the Greens, the Independent for Sydney Alex Greenwich, and the ALP.

The housing crisis will not go away. It is time the NSW Government took action to alleviate the plight of hundreds of thousands of people in NSW faced with inadequate or overpriced housing.

Hands off Glebe and the Glebe Grapevine promise that we will continue to fight for the rights of public housing tenants and will campaign for a massive increase in public housing to ensure that everyone has an affordable, secure and decent home.

Under the Arches

The Grapevine visited Wentworth Park to talk to people who have made their homes under the arches of the rail viaduct. The residents include people who have been homeless for many years. Some struggle with mental health and addiction problems. One is in full time work but does not earn enough to pay rent.

We were told that nearby residents treat “the Archers” in a friendly way, and give them food and blankets. Services such as Mission Australia visit and assist where they can.

Sydney City Council told residents that Sydney Trains, which owns the land under the arches, had complained about their camp. They were evicted, their tents and other belongings were taken away. Council has since apologized, and offered to store the residents’ property until accommodation can be arranged..

Council has also organized services to speak to the residents about alternative accommodation. The campers have been promised accommodation in the future, but this will mean a long wait.

When the Grapevine visited, the first cool winds of the coming winter were blowing through the arches in the late afternoon of an otherwise gloriously mild day. The rough sleepers had erected wind breaks, and were confident that Council services and the locals will provide enough blankets for the colder months.

Sydney City Council still insists that no structures can be erected and that only swags are allowed. Tents and mattresses are not permitted.

Residents said Council had been helpful in some ways. They promised not to confiscate people’s’ possessions again, and not to hassle residents who complied with Council rules. Council also provides a rubbish collection every two weeks.

Several campers expressed concern about street kids who also live in Wentworth Park. They asked: “Why aren’t there people caring for these young kids?”

Problems of homelessness in Sydney can only be solved by the State Government spending some of the billions of dollars they collect in property taxes to build more homes.

In a rich country we should not have people sleeping in parks and under arches. A decent home is a human right.

Thanks to Richard, Teddy, Nick and Paul.


Bidura, the heritage house at 357 Glebe Point Road, and the Children’s Court behind it, have been sold by the NSW Government for $33 million.

There was no community consultation.

The site was advertised as having a 27 metre height limit, and was said to be suitable for residential development of up to 100 units.

Bidura Children’s Court was one of only 3 dedicated Children’s Courts in the Sydney metropolitan area. Others are at Parramatta and Campbelltown.

A spokesperson for the Department for Justice said that “the Department has two years to identify a new courthouse site and relocate staff”.

One option under consideration is reopening the antiquated Metropolitan Children’s Court in Albion Street, Surry Hills which was closed in 1983.




Pay up, Mr Baird!

The Baird Government has more than enough money to pay for a massive increase in public housing and full and proper maintenance of existing homes.

The surging Sydney property market continues to deliver a stamp duty bonanza to the NSW government, giving it a record take of more than $1 billion in January and February alone.

The government’s last budget update in December revealed a surplus $272 million thanks largely to the stamp duty windfall. The latest revenue figures suggest that the surplus will swell further.

Residential sales alone delivered $465 million in stamp duty in January and $396 million last month.

The record receipts for the first two months of the year show NSW is on track to exceed the estimates in the 2014-15 budget papers. These forecast a stamp duty take of $6.1 billion.

If you want to help to save the Powerhouse, visit the Facebook page for campaign updates, or contact to join the mailing list.”


Cowper Street developments

You have probably noticed that work has begun on the Cowper Street site, after it lay idle for four years.

Civil works (sewage pipes etc) are being done in preparation for the subdivision of the site into five lots. There will be one lot for affordable housing, two lots for social housing and two lots which the government intends to sell off for private housing.

Earth works are supposed to be completed by Christmas. The contractors are permitted to work each day from 7am to 6pm, and to 1pm on Saturdays. They have been asked to control dust on the site which was covered in fill containing asbestos, most of which was removed after demolition of public housing homes four years ago.

If you notice dust coming from the site, or contractors working outside approved hours, call Paul Hunt, the Development Director, on 8753 9083.

Once the subdivision is complete, building plans will be submitted to Sydney City Council. Council will assess the plans and prepare a report for the Central Sydney Planning Authority (CSPA) which is the “consent authority” for projects worth more than $50 million.

The CSPA comprises four people appointed by the Minister for Planning. Until 17 April 2014, that was Brad Hazzard. He is now the Minister with responsibility for housing. The other three members are Lord Mayor Clover Moore and two other Councillors. The CSPA is required to take residents’ objections into account.

Hands off Glebe oppose the scheme. We say:

All the land should be retained for public and affordable housing, not sold to developers;

High rise, high density development has no place in Glebe. It will destroy the character and the amenity of Glebe.

It is criminal to privatise the dwindling stock of public housing and public land when there is a housing affordability crisis. A home is a human right, not just another way for rich developers to make even more money.





Glebe Development a disgrace wrapped in lies and greed 14 June 2015


The Minister for Social Housing’s announcement that half the public land at Cowper Street, Glebe will be sold to private developers is a disgrace. It will do nothing to help solve Sydney’s housing crisis but will steal land belonging to the people and give it to the wealthy.


“The Baird Government should use some of the billions it is raking in from stamp duty and land tax to start a major public housing building program to meet the needs of the 60,000 on the waiting list and the many homeless in our city,” Denis Doherty from Hands off Glebe Inc said in Glebe this morning.

Over the past decade Labor and Liberal governments in NSW have privatised 7,000 public housing properties. The O’Farrell Government cut $37 million from the housing budget in 2013.


“The truth is that the Baird Government wants to get rid of its responsibility for housing its citizens altogether. It is selling public assets on a massive scale, offloading $1 billion worth of property in the past two years alone.


“This is short-term interest being pursued against long-term interest of the people,” Mr Doherty said.


“The Minister should be ashamed of this development. Close to Cowper Street is the Wentworth Park Aqueduct where under each arch four to six people sleep rough each night.  The Government had a chance to build another ‘Common Ground’ establishment on land it owned in a key area yet they passed it up for a quick and shameful profit.


“The Inner City needs affordable homes for essential workers such as nurses, teachers, police and ferry workers yet only a small portion of the development will provide this. Cowper Street is close to three universities and student accommodation is also desperately needed yet there is no provision for this need.




“The Minister is repeating the lies of Housing NSW when they destroyed a thriving community of almost 300 people four years ago. The homes may not have been architectural marvels, but the claim that they had to be demolished because they were ‘old’ is a lie. Some of the 16 low rise buildings had just been renovated including a $4 million for lifts.


“The suggestion that the development will provide ‘mix’ is another lie. Private and public housing will be physically separated by a busy road and his barrier will not be crossed.

“The claim of community consultation is another lie. There is no evidence that the community supports the Cowper Street development.


“Hands off Glebe is a local community group formed to defend public housing which has been campaigning for years to save Cowper Street public housing.


“We have organised postcard and letter writing campaigns, protest rallies at the site and outside Parliament House and much more.


“Recently the Minister cancelled an appointment to see a delegation from Hands off Glebe, saying he would be too busy for a long time to see us.


“It is criminal to privatise the dwindling stock of public housing and public land when there is a housing affordability crisis. A home is a human right, not just another way for the rich to make even more money,” Mr Doherty concluded.


For more information

Denis Doherty 0418 290 663

For Hands off Glebe


visit our website:

or our facebook HandsoffGlebe


The Glebe Grapevine Feb 2015

You heard it here!


February 2015


On Saturday 28 March NSW will go to the polls to elect a new State Government. Hands Off Glebe asked the candidates for the seat of Balmain — Jamie Parker (Greens), Verity Firth (ALP) and Lyndon Gannon (Liberal) — 9 questions about the future of public housing in Glebe.  Here are their replies.


  1. What should happen to the vacant land in Cowper Street?

Jamie – I will continue to advocate for public housing to be built – and soon – on the vacant land in Cowper Street.

Verity – We cannot allow this rare opportunity to expand affordable housing options in the Inner West to be stalled any longer or lost altogether. It is time to get on with the job of redeveloping the site for the purpose that was intended for it. While I believe a mixture of private, affordable and public dwellings is the right approach and would produce the best social outcomes, the priority of any proposed development must be the provision of accommodation for low income and disadvantaged individuals and families.

  1. Should any of the Cowper Street land be sold to private interests?

Jamie – No, I do not support any part of this land being sold to private interests.

Verity – I would support a development application for the site that provided a greater proportion of the housing mix for affordable housing and public housing.

Our comment: At a rally on 25 November 2014, Verity said there should be 100% public and affordable housing on the site. What has caused her to change her mind?

  1. How many units would your party, if elected, build on the Cowper Street site?

Jamie – The scale and density of development should be compatible with existing development in Glebe. This would mean no more than about 250 units on the site.

Verity – The final design, scale and height of the development must be subjected to extensive consultation with the local community and in keeping with the suburb’s heritage and character.

Our comment – Hands off Glebe has extensively consulted with the community since 2008 when the Cowper Street project was first mooted. There is very little support for high rise high density development in Glebe.

  1. Would all those units be retained as public housing? if some other arrangement is planned would you please outline it to us?

Jamie – Yes, with a mix of affordable and social housing.

Verity – Verity did not answer this question. See her response to questions 1 & 2, which suggests she supports some development on the site being in private hands.

  1. Would your party build units on the Cowper Street land more than 4 storeys high?

Jamie – No, this would be out of character with other development in Glebe.

Verity – Verity did not answer this question, and has not ruled out high rise development. See question 3.

  1. Does your party support the “social cleansing” of the city by moving public housing tenants out of areas such as Glebe, Millers Point, Redfern-Waterloo and Surry Hills?

Jamie – Absolutely not. The sell-off of public housing in Millers Point is a disgrace, and a betrayal of the community who lives there. Many families in Millers Point have lived there for generations. All “high value” homes are these days a potential target for evictions and sales. The Liberal government is continuing the former Labor government program which has seen the sale of so much public housing in Glebe. Their approach is an attack on the most vulnerable members of our community, and a threat to diversity and social inclusion.

Verity – NSW Labor opposes the social dislocation now being inflicted on the tenants of Millers Point by the current government and if elected, will put a stop to any further sell off of these properties. Labor is committed to the retention of the Glebe estate. Labor has also demonstrated that it is prepared to invest in the maintenance of these heritage homes. Labor’s approach is at complete odds with the Liberal government’s current policy of simply selling heritage homes and cruelly evicting tenants.

7…If not, what does your party propose to do to retain public housing neighbourhoods in the city area?

Jamie – The Greens will continue to oppose the sell-off and will call for increased expenditure on public housing. The Greens are opposed to massive subsidisation of private investors in the housing market, as this serves to skew the housing market without necessarily providing affordable, secure and decent housing for those in need.

Verity – Verity did not answer this question. See question 6.

  1. Does your party support the sale of public housing homes in Glebe and, if so, to what extent?

Jamie – No. There is no lack of demand for housing in Glebe and all public housing properties should be retained.

Verity – Verity did not answer this question. See question 6.

  1. Is your party committed to the proper maintenance of public housing homes in Glebe?

Jamie – Yes. There is a need for greater expenditure on public housing maintenance to address the $300M backlog. As well, the Greens have called upon the NSW Government to review its existing arrangements with maintenance contractor Spotless as service delivery has been very poor.

Verity – In the last term of the Federal and State Labor governments over $9.2 million was devoted to maintenance work for inner city public housing. In this tranche of the federal government’s stimulus program, $2.5 million was spent on maintenance work for 724 homes in Glebe. This expenditure was on top of the state Labor government’s existing maintenance budget.



Lyndon Gannon, Liberal candidate for Balmain, did not answer our questions but instead chose to send us a general statement.

The NSW Government inherited a social housing system that was unfair and unsustainable.

Since 2011, the NSW Government has worked hard to make the social housing system stronger, fairer and better.

We have made waiting lists transparent to help people make better decisions, run amnesties to crack down on those rorting the system, introduced measures so more people can access social housing and made decisions like Millers Point which will mean money for new homes and maintenance. However, there is more to do. The social housing discussion continues to face significant challenges.

That is why the NSW Government has released the Social Housing Discussion Paper which will guide future reforms. The Discussion Paper is based on three pillars: a social housing system that provides opportunity and pathways for client independence, a social housing system that is fair and a social housing system that is sustainable.

Our comment – Lyndon says nothing about injecting more money into housing. New housing is to be built by selling off homes in the inner city, cracking down on “rorters”, and promoting “independence.” A talkfest is not going to solve the massive shortage of affordable housing.

OUR VERDICT—In the race to provide a good policy on public housing, the clear winner is Jamie Parker. Verity Firth comes second and Lyndon Gannon last.


The winners were:

First prize        J. Simpson, Glebe;       2nd prize       I. Kirby, Glebe
3rd       donated to Centipede;           4th         A. Yates, Stanmore

Hands off Glebe expresses its appreciation and thanks to
the local businesses which donated the raffle prizes.

            Alfie and Hetty restaurant            Mr Falcon’s

            Galuzzo’s                                                      GleeBooks



Read the Hands off Glebe submission to the NSW Government’s Discussion Paper on Social Housing at

Read the Hands off Glebe leaflet protesting against the sale of Bidura at


Like us on Facebook — find us at handsoffglebe

Submission re: NSW Social Housing Discussion Paper

Submission from Hands off Glebe Inc.

to the NSW Government’s

Discussion Paper on Social Housing in NSW



“We are in a housing crisis that extends from the homeless on the street well into the middle class. We have couples deciding not to have children because they do not have the space to house them. We have people paying exorbitant rents … Yet ministers just sit there like gouty old men in the 19th hole.” (Nick Cohen, Spectator 7/1/13 quoted in Dorling p.37)

There are a number of assumptions in the Discussion Paper which make its proposals for resolving the housing crisis unworkable and unacceptable.

  • Social housing is viewed as an element of the welfare system. However, to solve the current housing crisis requires that we understand it as an essential sector of the whole housing system.
  • The proposed “pathway to independence” is in reality a pathway to dependence upon the less secure and less affordable private rental market. Age, disability and family responsibility are common bars to the labour market. For those able to work, secure jobs are not always available. The national unemployment rate in January 2015 was 6.1% and in NSW it was 5.9%. Youth unemployment is even higher.
  • The Discussion Paper says “The overall objective of the new system is to provide a safety net.” Why? It would be socially and economically fairer and more sustainable if eligibility was significantly expanded.
  • Social housing is presented as dependence, private rental is independence. Why? The only real difference is the landlord.
  • Housing in the private sector is the preferred form of housing. Why? Affordable public housing, in various forms, is equally acceptable. Small government and market dominance are not better than state involvement in public infrastructure which can deliver fairer outcomes.

Hands Off Glebe argues for an expanded and improved national, publicly funded housing program. Government has a responsibility for the well-being of the citizens, including the provision of accessible, good quality, affordable, well-maintained public housing, for families and individuals. We cannot rely on the private rental and sales market to provide for our housing needs.

The Discussion Paper says nothing about injecting money into public housing. This should be a priority. It is only with access to decent, affordable housing that members of our community can achieve their potential in education and employment.

PILLAR 1 — a pathway not a destination

The Discussion Paper says:

 “A social housing system should provide opportunity and pathway for client independence and work to break the cycle of disadvantage, while supporting vulnerable people.”

“The current focus of the social housing system is on sustaining tenancy, rather than encouraging opportunity or independence.” P13

Very few public housing tenants will ever be able to afford the rocketing cost of private rentals. Why should they be cast adrift on the private rental housing market?

The presumption that private rental accommodation is a better housing outcome for tenants than public housing is not justified. Private rental accommodation may be in a poorer condition than public housing, and tenure is often less secure. A government policy promoting private rental accommodation in lieu of public housing would of course benefit landlords.

Hands off Glebe seeks a broadening of public housing so that once again public housing becomes a significant element of the housing system. There is no reason public housing should not be a destination. It may be the only realistic goal for many people.

As the Discussion Paper notes, “Private rental housing in NSW, especially in the greater Sydney metropolitan region, has become increasingly unaffordable for low income households over the past ten years. In addition, social housing tenants are faced with the risk of losing stable housing should they voluntarily transition to the private rental market, given the difficulty faced in re-entering the social housing system.”

“In terms of home ownership, Sydney is one of the least affordable cities in the world…

“The deterioration in housing affordability is even worse for private renters. On average, in the last decade, Sydney private rents increased by 47 per cent in real terms.“(Eastgate pp. 5-7

An Anglicare report highlighted the unaffordability of the private rental market for 99% of people on Centrelink benefits.

Security of tenure is highly valued by social housing tenants but it is put at risk by the insistence on social housing as ‘a pathway not a destination’. For most social housing tenants it is clearly a destination. Once they have social housing they have no desire to go anywhere else. This view is based on a realistic assessment of the alternatives on offer. Home ownership is beyond their resources while private rental, even if it is available, is neither affordable nor secure..

Social housing is highly successful in delivering affordability to its tenants. While in 2009-10, 60% of low income tenants in the private rental market were experiencing housing stress (paying over 30% of their income in rent) and 48% of low income home purchasers were in mortgage stress, only 1.3% of low income social housing tenants were reported as being in housing stress. (Eastgate p 9)

The insistence on trying to move tenants out of social housing and into the private market, and on making the system merely a safety net represent further steps in the direction of the government trying to shed its responsibilities by operating social housing as a residual welfare measure.

PILLAR 2 — a fair system

Average tenure in social housing is long and increasing with more than 50%of tenants living in public housing for ten years or more. This is only to be expected in a climate where governments are increasingly focussed on the provision of public housing as a safety net for the disadvantaged rather than as integral to our society, like public education and health.

The Discussion Paper says “There is a trend for tenants to stay longer in social housing meaning there are fewer opportunities to assist new people.” (p24).

This is only true if no new public housing stock is built. Additionally, the inference that current social housing tenants are being unfair by staying in their homes when the waiting list is so long is unacceptable. This is blaming tenants for the waiting list and trying to solve the problem by throughput of tenants and not increasing the amount of social housing available for “new people”. This is a political wedge to play social housing tenants off against those in the private rental market and those on the waiting list.

The Discussion Paper claims that “A fair social housing system is also one where tenants value the support they are receiving, by taking care of their dwelling, paying rent and contributing to their community.” (p21)

This is a view that social housing equates to support rather than a human right and it presupposes that all people have a mindset where beds are made and dishes washed before people leave the house. This simply does not reflect the profile of many social housing tenants.

The government is setting up this standard while not acknowledging the widespread need for assisted living support systems. This does not mean re-institutionalisation of large numbers of people but appropriate support within a social housing model which does not put timeframes on tenancy but accepts that a large number of people need permanent housing options.

The Discussion Paper states: “the NSW social housing system as a whole requires a fundamental shift in emphasis from a stated objective of ‘maximise opportunities for all’ to a clearer objective that prioritises those most in need.

In the opinion of Hands off Glebe, the reverse is true. Rather than cater only for the disadvantaged, there is a need to maximise opportunities for the many hundreds of thousands of people coping with housing difficulties.

Priority to housing those most in need (mental health, disability, illness, poverty, seniors) is fair, but if the system is to start meeting the real housing need it needs to absorb working families and those with moderate incomes facing rental stress. A larger social housing portfolio would make a much fairer system.

Hands off Glebe support the objectives of the Housing Act, including:

(a) to maximise the opportunities for all people in New South Wales to have access to secure, appropriate and affordable housing,

(b) to ensure that housing opportunities and assistance are available to all sections of the community with housing needs,

(c) to ensure that public housing is developed as a viable and diversified form of housing choice.

PILLAR 3 — a sustainable system

Revenues under the income-based rent model have declined relative to growing operating costs.

According to the Discussion Paper, the decline in revenue is the result of two things. Firstly, payments from the Commonwealth have been declining in real terms over the last two decades. Since 1995-96 funding is estimated to have declined by more than $200 million per annum in real terms — a total reduction of $2.7 billion over4 twenty years. Secondly, rental revenues have grown more slowly than market rent, especially as the tenant mix has changed from being historically skewed towards working families to now having more tenants who rely on government income support as their main source of income.” (p 38)

A broader tenant base will improve rental income relative to costs. The new public housing built by the NSW Government in the past few years has been transferred to affordable housing providers, who charge higher rents. The older stock has been retained in government hands and is used to house more impoverished tenants.

Why does the system have to be sustainable?

As Ferrer points out,: “Most public services in NSW are usually much less self-sufficient than housing and require substantial operational subsidies. For example, recurrent health expenditure is 86 per cent subsidised, education is 96 per cent subsidised, and trains are 52 per cent subsidised.” (p 7).

Why is social housing a special case? Ferrer notes that it is possible to sustain and grow the social housing system in New South Wales but that this will require “the establishment of an explicit annual capital program for social housing in a similar way as it operates for services in health, education and transport.”  (p 15)


Governments have a responsibility for the provision of basic infrastructure and services to meet the needs of the community. Governments are expected to support for those unable to provide for themselves.

The NSW Government must provide access to safe, secure and well maintained affordable housing. This requires sufficient housing availability and planning in response to social needs, not the demands of the market or the private interests of developers.

Hands off Glebe supports the implementation of a program to build tens of thousands of new homes in New South Wales.

Entry into social housing should be available to those who want it, on incomes of less than $90,000 per annum. Tenants should pay rent of no more than 25% of their gross income

There should be greater involvement of tenants in management and maintenance with maintenance provided by local maintenance crews and apprenticeships for young unemployed people in social housing communities.

Public housing should be readily accessible to transport, jobs, education and health services.

Sales of existing public housing stock should cease immediately.

The government must increase funding, recurrent and capital investment, for affordable public housing.

Hands off Glebe believe that the NSW Government should allocate a portion of the large income stream it receives by way of stamp duty and land tax to build new public housing. Most of that revenue is derived from housing, and should be reinvested in housing, rather than be absorbed into consolidated revenue. The 2014 Budget was $1.2 billion in surplus due to increased revue from sales tax and land tax.

Core services go hand in hand. Health, education and corrective services should all bear some of the cost due to the benefits provided by secure housing.

Superannuation funds should be used as a source of funding for construction of new social housing

Community Housing Services should not be used by government to offload its housing responsibilities onto the non government and charity sectors. Where there is a genuine demand for group housing or local control of public housing consideration could be given to funding same.



Australians for Affordable Housing, media release August 2013

Dorling Danny, All that is Solid, Allen Lane, London 2014

Eastgate Jon with Rix Paula, Social housing visions: what tenants and frontline workers value in social housing, report prepared for Shelter NSW, January 2015

Ferrer Emilio, The cost of increasing social and affordable housing supply in New South Wales, report prepared for Shelter NSW, December 2014

Give Bidura back to the Community


Bidura Sold!

Bidura, the heritage house at 357 Glebe Point Road which has been a children’s home and later a Children’s Court since 1920, has been sold off for $33 million by the Baird Government without any consultation with our community. The sale includes the modern building behind the heritage house.

The private developer has said he will build 100 units on the site!

The Baird Government wants to pack and stack us into our suburb. But Glebe is known as a village and Baird’s policies will destroy the village!

Voice your opposition to this sale and
send the Baird Government this leaflet (see overleaf)



He and his Government are making sure that Glebe residents
and public housing tenants will have their Christmas
spoiled by their anti-people policies


Dear Premier Baird,

We strongly object to the sell off of Bidura in Glebe Point Road in secret and without consultation or respect for local residents.

This property could have been used by your Government for a number of much needed community amenities rather than being sold off to the private sector. Bidura could have renovated to provide:

  • Social and affordable housing for some of the thousands on the waiting list.
  • A community facility –leave it as a Children’s Court !
  • An education facility
  • an arts or cultural centre

Instead of thinking of the people’s needs, you have flogged this wonderful building off to a developer who will see it only as a source of profit, not a community asset.

We call on you to reverse this decision. Keep Bidura in public hands and develop it to meet people’s needs.

While your Government continues to see property as a source of revenue and continues to ignores community views and needs, we will do all in our power to unseat you come the March 2015 election.

Signed ________________________________________




Send to: NSW Premier Baird, Parliament House, Macquarie Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Authorised by Hands off Glebe, PO Box 45, Glebe NSW 2037. E:

Grapevine December 14 2014 issue


You heard it here!

The Grapevine wishes all our readers a happy
Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year
in a secure, decent and affordable home.

December 2014

Bays Precinct: Democracy or Profit?

Despite denials, it is clear the Baird Government is determined to ignore the community and international experts, and hand over our precious public harbour lands to private developers motivated only by profit. The community has developed Public Interest Principles which call on the NSW Government to:ensure that the Bays Precinct Urban Renewal Project follows a democratic and open process; enables public and private interests to come together creatively and imaginatively; ensures that the outcome will be a worthy of the site and of Sydney’s status as a global city; and properly protects the public interest.

Program for housing reform

In our next edition, the Grapevine will publish the responses of candidates for the 2015 State Election to our questions about housing. On page 2 of this issue, we set out the Hands off Glebe  program for housing reform.

The Mezzo—half baked

Developers of the site at the corner of Bay Street and Wentworth Park Road have lodged a DA with Sydney City Council. They want to build 213 units plus 4720m2 of commercial and retail space, in a 33 metre high development plus 2 levels of basement parking. If approved, it will be the densest development in Glebe. The site is particularly ill suited for such intense development because of noise and flooding. Undeterred by practicalities, the developers have been flogging unit sales for months. There are also serious fire risks in the current design.


The Grapevine marks the death of Gough Whitlam. Among his achievements, he, and Tom Uren, gave us the Glebe Estate. At the time of the Whitlam Government, Liberals and Labor alike supported public housing. Like clean water and public education, access to decent housing was a cornerstone of a fairer society, where opportunity was not just squandered on the rich. Secure, affordable housing improves access to education and employment, and lessens dependence on health and welfare services.

Hands off Glebe’s  program for housing reform includes:

  • Public housing should be available to all who need it, who earn less than $90,000 per annum, and should consume no more than 25% of income.
  • Stop knocking down and selling off our homes. Housing is more than bricks and mortar. It is community, diversity and heritage.
  • Stop selling public land, including the 80 hectare Bays Precinct.
  • Recognize tenants’ rights to stay in their homes, except in exceptional circumstances.
  • Catch up with the maintenance backlog, with local maintenance teams employed by local housing offices.
  • Treat public housing tenants with respect.
  • Stop wasting public money on privately owned affordable housing schemes which benefit only the developers.
  • End negative gearing, which pushes up the price of housing by subsidizing speculation and tax avoidance.
  • The NSW Government reaps enormous and increasing revenues from housing by way of stamp duty and land tax. This year the budget is in surplus by $1.2 billion. Dedicate the income stream from these property taxes to build tens of thousands of new homes in New South Wales, thereby:

î  Providing homes to those on the waiting list.
î  Introducing real competition into the housing market. At present, developers build what they want, and charge what they like.
î  Creating jobs.

  • Recognise social housing as part of the whole housing sector, not part of the shrinking welfare system.

When affordable doesn’t mean affordable

What do you think when you hear the government talk about “affordable housing”? Inexpensive? Reasonably priced? Cheap enough for everyone to afford?

A rough estimation of affordability is 30% of gross income. This should leave enough to pay tax and other expenses like food, clothing, utilities, transport and medical costs.

In Australia there are a number of ‘affordable’ housing programs but the most common funding models are:

  1. a) a market rent reduction. This model is generally used by private developers who get a planning concession (for example more floors, smaller units) or a subsidy of up to $100,000 in return for providing some ‘affordable’ units generally for a limited period of time (often 10 years). The tenant in this model will pay 75% to 80% of the market rent.
  2. b) an income based model. This model is sometimes be used by government funded community housing providers. Some of the units are offered to a mix of people on very low and low to moderate incomes.

What do these two models mean in practice for someone living and working in Sydney?

Statistics kept by the NSW Government show that in the June quarter of 2014 the average market rent for a one bedroom unit in inner Sydney is $500 per week.  75% to 80% of the market rent means the tenant pays $375 to $400 per week. Using the 30% rule that person will need to earn $69,333 per year which is just under the median Sydney income. So a single person with an income of less $69,000 is unlikely to qualify for one of these units.

What about the second model? In the second model the landlord provides a mix of housing for people on very low to moderate incomes.  Only a small number of the units will be made available for those on very low incomes (defined as less than 50% of the median income $37,544). The remainder will be given to single people who earn between 51% (37,544) to 120% of median income ($90,105).

In addition because landlords usually want to maximise their income it is in their financial interests to house those households with an income as close as possible to the income limit. Again this means that those on an aged pension or on the minimum annual wage of $31,512 are unlikely to get access to this housing.

So next time someone tells you they are building affordable housing, ask how the rent will be calculated and  how many single people on a pension or on a minimum wage may be allocated one of those units.

You may be surprised how hard it is to get a direct answer.

What’s the difference?

Since Hands Off Glebe has been actively working in Glebe there have been many small victories and changes.

Hands off Glebe has been constant in keeping this and similar issues in the public eye through postcard and letter writing campaigns, petitions and protest gatherings and rallies in Glebe and outside Parliament House where we have twice met with Parliamentarians from different parties.

Hands off Glebe has been active in making submissions to enquiries into public housing, City of Sydney development proposals and letter writing to politicians.

Hands off Glebe members have attended a large number of public meetings focussing on public housing.

We aim to speak in the interests of public housing tenants and pushed for government commitment to the maintenance of public housing. We have joined with the tenants in Miller’s Point and formed links with other tenants groups in Sydney.

We  produce this newsletter, the Glebe Grapevine. Every second month a wonderful team of volunteers letterboxes over 5,000 copies across Glebe.

On the local front we have acted as advocates for a number of tenants on the Glebe Estate, Our campaign to Fix the Fences which involved a You Tube clip, meetings with FACS and letters to the Minister has resulted in a large number of fences being repaired and restored.

Some of this may have been “programmed maintenance” but  any of the fences we featured on social media were fixed within weeks, after years of tenants making complaints.

Hands Off Glebe has been busy making a difference.

Authorised by Denis Doherty. PO Box 145, Glebe NSW 2037

The Glebe Grapevine is a publication of Hands Off Glebe Inc.

Contact: P.O. Box 145, Glebe NSW 2037.

Ring Denis on 0418 290 663