The Victorian Greens have condemned the Victorian Labor Government for resorting to “ruthless” intimidation tactics in an effort to drive out the remaining residents of a Port Melbourne public housing estate earmarked for demolition.
The Greens say that in the midst of a housing crisis, the Government’s decision to privatise public housing will see communities torn apart and more Victorians in housing stress and at risk of homelessness.
Just weeks before Christmas in 2021, residents at the Barak Beacon public housing estate in Port Melbourne were door-knocked by departmental officers informing them they would need to leave their homes as a matter of urgency.
Barak Beacon is prime real estate close to Port Melbourne’s beaches, and the Government wants to syphon off the majority of this land for private development.
Under the Government’s plan, existing public homes will be demolished and replaced with majority privately-owned and privately managed housing and some community housing.
There will be no public housing rebuilt on the site.
And while many residents have already left following pressure from the Government, the remaining residents are now facing intimidation tactics by the Government to leave as a matter of urgency, despite no construction tender being awarded and no timeline for rebuilding.
The Government has commenced VCAT proceedings against residents, and in recent days has begun fencing off parts of the estate and trashing fences, doors, windows, and the children’s playground, ahead of the estate’s demolition.
Residents of the now demolished Walker Street public housing estate in Northcote were subjected to the same intimidation years ago and yet to date, not a single home has been built on the site, which remains vacant.
Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said this was a deliberate strategy by the Government to scare the remaining residents away, and to clear a quick path to destroy more public housing.
Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:
“Despite mounting pressure on the Victorian Labor Government, they seem to have doubled down and have begun knocking down parts of the estate.
“This is despite the fact that no contract has been awarded and there are no plans for the imminent reconstruction of public or any other homes.
“This Government seems more interested in breaking up the community fighting against their privatisation plans, than meeting with them to discuss it.
“This is a deliberate strategy by the Government to intimidate the remaining residents and strong arm their way through a growing community campaign against their plans to destroy public housing.”