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Anger at secret plan to bulldoze Redfern tower

Residents of one of Sydney's most controversial buildings took to the streets today to protest over secret NSW government plans to bulldoze their home.

A week after leaked documents showed the government planned to sell off chunks of Redfern and Waterloo to private developers, hundreds of locals gathered to protest outside the area's public housing towers.

The distinctive Redfern and Waterloo towers could be pulled down under a $540 million plan that may allow private developers to profit from government land.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, also the local MP, headlined a procession of speeches and accused the government of keeping residents uninformed and powerless.

"This is about development," said Cr Moore, standing on a makeshift stage on the back of a ute.

"It's not about urban renewal. It's not about addressing the social issues of our area."

Cr Moore said the government already had "all the power it needs" to address the neighbourhood's social problems - which earlier this year erupted in a race riot after the death of Aboriginal teenager Thomas "TJ" Hickey.

Demanding residents be consulted "every step of the way", she also objected to the unusual move of establishing a Redfern-Waterloo Authority to oversee development, a body that would have powers to override Sydney City Council planning regulations.

Cr Moore, a Redfern resident, would be on the board of the new authority, according to the proposal which goes before the NSW upper house tomorrow.

"This legislation is not democratic. It doesn't involve proper process and it overrides the Heritage Act," she said.

The building's neighbourhood is not far from the troubled Aboriginal area, known as The Block.

Several police attended today's rally but there were no reports of violence.

Instead, locals debated the matter vigorously among themselves, with some defending their home and others calling for a complete makeover.

"The people of Sydney think that Redfern and Waterloo are some sort of a low-down stinking slum," said Frank Kingston from his motorised stroller.

"If you don't think it's architecturally perfect then you must be blind."


SMH December 6, 2004 from AAP