SYD­NEY ‘TENT CITY’

New law that al­lows po­lice to evict tent dwellers from busi­ness district draws flak

New Straits Times - - World -

SYD­NEY New South Wales Greens mem­ber of par­lia­ment David Shoebridge said as the tents came down.

“To re­spond to a home­less­ness cri­sis by send­ing in the po­lice, threat­en­ing to ar­rest peo­ple and con­fis­cate their last few pos­ses­sions, I think that is a new low for pol­i­tics in Aus­tralia,” he said.

Crit­ics of the new law ex­pressed con­cerns it could be used to break up protests in the city, but Bere­jik­lian stressed it was specif­i­cally tar­geted at “unau­tho­rised ac­tiv­ity” such as the makeshift camp­site.

“What is hap­pen­ing in Martin Place is beyond protest be­cause it’s unau­tho­rised ac­tiv­ity which is com­pro­mis­ing the pub­lic safety of those most vul­ner­a­ble, but also the safety of the com­mu­nity,” she told the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald ear­lier this week.

The camp was just me­tres from the cen­tral bank and the New South Wales state Par­lia­ment in Aus­tralia’s largest city, which is ranked sec­ond on a list of the world’s least af­ford­able hous­ing.

The group of dwellers had camped out in Martin Place since the end of last year be­side a build­ing site, but more re­cently pitched the tents af­ter the area was closed for con­struc­tion.

Lanz Pri­est­ley, who has been dubbed the tent city’s mayor, said peo­ple were mov­ing to a crowd-funded lo­ca­tion in­doors, af­ter res­i­dents were asked by po­lice to pack up.

“Our in­ten­tion is to go in­doors now... where every­body that ever has a need for safety, a roof or food, can go,” he said.

“This is not just for home­less peo­ple, this is for any­one that falls through the cracks.”

So­cial ad­vo­cates warned Syd­ney’s high prices were plac­ing more pres­sure on those strug­gling to af­ford a roof over their heads.

More than 100,000 peo­ple across Aus­tralia were re­ported home­less in the 2011 na­tional cen­sus, with wel­fare groups ex­pect­ing the most re­cent sur­vey held last year to show an in­crease. AFP

AFP PIC

A home­less man eat­ing break­fast at dawn next to tents be­long­ing to home­less peo­ple in Martin Place, which has be­come known as ‘Tent City’, in the cen­tral busi­ness district of Syd­ney yes­ter­day.

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