Government's decision to sell off 2,662 hectares of public land betrays treaty process and the urgent need for public housing


Next week the Victorian Greens will introduce a motion to Parliament calling for a moratorium on private sales of surplus Crown and public land until treaties are negotiated with Victoria’s Traditional Owners.

They have also called on the Government to keep public land for public needs, such as desperately needed public housing.

Gunnai-Kurnai and Gunditjmara advocate, Lidia Thorpe, added that by selling off public land, the Government was betraying any upcoming treaty negotiations in Victoria.

There are currently 151 sites and 2,662 hectares of land being prepared for sale by the Government. This is more than double the land area sold over the past decade.

Several of these sites have been identified by Melbourne University experts as priority sites for the development of public housing to address homelessness.

These include:

  • 3 Warde Street, Footscray
  • 62 – 64 Alexandra Parade, Clifton Hill
  • 4 – 6 Whitehall Street, Footscray
  • 2 Grice Crescent, Essendon

Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said that by ceasing the sale of public land to private developers in Victoria, the Government could both instil trust in the Treaty process and invest in public housing to tackle homelessness.

Currently there are over 85,000 people in Victoria on the public housing waiting list, and Victoria is shamefully behind other states in the provision of housing to people in need, providing less than half the funding of NSW.

Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:

“Victoria’s housing situation is dire. There are tens of thousands of people without a place to call home and yet our Government is selling off land to private developers rather than investing much-needed money into more public housing.

“The Victorian Greens want a moratorium on the sale of surplus Crown land until the Government has undertaken Treaty negotiations with the Traditional Owners of the land and to set aside all sites suitable for public housing.

“A good Government would put the interests of communities first. Public land should be kept to meet public needs, not be sold off to prop up the government’s bottom line.

“Without greater investment in public housing Victoria will continue to fall far behind the rest of the country when it comes to tackling the homelessness crisis.”

Quotes attributable to Djab Wurrung and Gunditjmara advocate, Lidia Thorpe:

“This mass sell-off of surplus Crown and public land is a betrayal of the treaty process. Land is crucial in settling Treaties between the Victorian Government and the First Peoples of this land, but how can we negotiate for this public land if it has all been sold off?

“Our homes and land were stolen from us. Through Treaties land must be restored to First Peoples to ensure that we can build homes for all of us, so we can establish healing places and cultural centres to celebrate our culture, and so we can have a say over the management of our natural places.

My people desperately need more public housing to end the plague of homelessness we have endured since we were torn away from our homes, dispossessed of our traditional lands and forced onto reservations and missions.

“The Victorian Labor Government needs to come clean to the First Peoples of this land and the wider community about how much of the useable surplus land available is being sold off.”

Quotes attributable to Libby Porter, spokesperson for the Save Public Housing Collective:

"When Government sells publicly-owned lands, this not only privatises public land but further entrenches the long history of Indigenous dispossession.

“This Government is selling public housing as part of the Public Housing Renewal Program.

“We call on the Victorian Government to immediately stop the sale of public lands, especially public housing land, to appropriately support meaningful negotiations toward Treaty and ensure housing justice for all.”