Thursday, 28 October 2010
Bennelong Electorate: Housing
Over the past few years my electorate of Bennelong has been detrimentally impacted by social housing and other federal policies, leading to overdevelopment without proper approval processes and overwhelming the existing infrastructure. In particular this has led to overcrowding in multioccupancy developments in zones established for single residences, leading to an overuse and overload of water, sewerage, public transport, roads and other essential amenities.
The government’s stimulus package funding has been the direct catalyst for the badly developed social housing projects throughout Bennelong. This policy has empowered the state government to bypass the local council’s zoning design control plan and the normal DA processes that should advise residents of what is to be built and give them a chance to lodge an objection. This fundamental democratic right has been stripped from my constituents. There were many losers in this outrageous disregard of our community. Those occupying social housing were advised that they would have to move, sometimes given as little as 30-days notice. Those who would move into the new projects, which were distinct from the surrounding housing, would be identified as the beneficiaries of social housing and stigmatised by that label.
The social housing projects that have been built often contain over 20 apartments, with fewer than five car parking spaces. This will no doubt result in danger, especially for children, because of the decreased space for parking in the surrounding area and even more congestion on the roads. The home values of adjoining properties have, at times, been devastated to the point where young couples have lost all equity and, at other times, long established families have had their only asset decimated in value. Bennelong is a diverse community in every way, and nothing that I have said should be interpreted as people not wanting to provide appropriate social housing for those in need. As one of my constituents eloquently put it: ‘It’s not the people; it’s the projects!’
Some people who are in need of social housing may be suffering a lack of self esteem, a loss of confidence. It is at this time that it is most critical that they do not suffer any indignation by being identified as in need. Most of these good people simply want a hand-up, not a hand-out. They want to integrate, just like any other member of the community, with an eventual aspiration to purchase their own home in the community. Building a new class of social housing that is substandard in construction makes it immediately distinguishable from the surrounding housing and fails at this important goal. As a result, organisations like RAID, MARS and CAPO have been formed and quickly pushed to the margins by our state and federal Labor governments. Here, in this parliament, their voice is heard.
While these issues mentioned are of a serious nature they are insignificant compared to the destruction of our community’s democratic rights to have their elected officials protect their community and their homes. Big government in Canberra can not have the facility to know, or to be intimately sensitive to, the issues that surround a development in Catherine Street in Ryde, for example. These rights belong in the hands of the local community and administered by their locally elected officials.
Compounding this problem is the reckless way the federal government has recently interfered with the rail infrastructure plans for New South Wales, offering $2.1 billion to complete the Epping to Parramatta Rail Link. This is in direct conflict with their state government counterparts, who have spent millions of dollars on infrastructure analysis to determine the needs of Sydney. This gave far greater priority to the construction of the north-west link, which would better alleviate the pressures on Bennelong, followed by the south-west link. The only motivation that could be reasonably deduced from this reckless and cynical offer was that the Epping to Parramatta Rail Link would impact on five marginal seats. The people of Bennelong will not be bought. They demand proper planning before this link is constructed. The Australian people expect better from our government.