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You are here: Home / Our Community / Elections / State Election – March 24th 2007 / The State seat of Marrickville / SOCIALIST ALLIANCE – Pip Hinman / Socialist Alliance response to REDWatch questionnaire

Socialist Alliance response to REDWatch questionnaire

By Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance candidate for Marrickville

The Socialist Alliance completely opposes the trend by all state governments to remove major development projects from regulation and scrutiny by local government and other regularity authorities charged with protecting community and environmental interests. This has been a device to advance the privatization and corporate profits-first agenda against the interest of the community and the environment.

The Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA) is one instance of this negative trend and therefore we oppose the formation of the RWA, the purposes for which it was formed and the structures and processes established for its operation. We call for the abolition of the RWA and the repeal of the legislation that forms and empowers the RWA.

The experience of the first two years of operation of the RWA confirm that this is nothing more than a devices to advance the privatization and corporate‑profit first agenda.

The Socialist Alliance believes that all development projects, big or small, should be fully subject to public scrutiny, democratic control and regulation in the interest of the community and the environment.

All major development projects should be under the control of the public and their governing boards should be:

  • Elected by the community;
  • Accountable to the public;
  • Subject to recall by the electorate; and
  • Provision should be made for major issues to be submitted to community‑initiated referenda.

Socialist Alliance candidates are not running on the promise that if we are elected we will simply do better than the incumbents in parliament. This is because we believe that the present political system is totally corrupted by powerful corporate interests.

Any Socialist Alliance candidate elected will instead use that office as a political platform from which to work with other community activists to mobilise a broad community movement for a radical extension of direct democracy and a total reversal of the dominant corporate profits‑first political orthodoxy.

Socialist Alliance candidates will live on an average worker’s wage and donate the rest of their parliamentary salary towards the building of a community‑based movement to advance these aims.

The Redfern Waterloo Authority

The Socialist Alliance campaigns for the abolition of the Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA) and the repeal of the legislation that forms and empowers it. If we are forced to live with the existence of the RWA, we would press for the subjugation of any RWA plans to full scrutiny and regulation by local councils and other regularity authorities charged with protecting community and environmental interests.

Any major development project should be charged with the responsibility to develop plans for associated community advancement, heritage and environmental protection. Therefore, if the RWA continues, we would press for the development of all such plans in full cooperation with individuals and institutions working on these issues at the local and state level, and for these plans and regular assessments of their implementation to be subject to public scrutiny.

The Minister for Redfern Waterloo

The Socialist Alliance opposes the formation of the RWA and therefore would push for the abolition of the position of a separate minister for RW.

The present minister, Frank Sartor, has demonstrated the emptiness of his promises of community consultation. If we have to live with a minister for RW, we would push for the minister to be subject to accountability at regular public meetings and for him to table regular written reports on his work.

The three government‑appointed Ministerial Advisory Committees are a farce and should be replaced with an elected, recallable and publicly accountable board of management.

Funding for Redfern Waterloo

The Socialist Alliance opposes any sale of government land in RW as a method of funding government initiatives in RW. We believe that all public infrastructure should be financed from public revenue and through long‑term public borrowing.

The Socialist Alliance rejects the current government view that existing unmet human service needs in RW can be addressed by reforming current human services without any additional government funding. Rather than cutbacks, we need more investment in social services and these should be met by sharply steepening progressive taxation.

The Socialist Alliance supports increased human services funding for services in RW to meet the higher needs of new public housing tenants.

The early intervention strategies which have been advanced in the RWA’s plans cannot be met while maintaining existing human services in RW without an appropriate increase in funding.

The Socialist Alliance advocates that sufficient government funds to be made available to ensure suitable accommodation for government‑funded human services in RW currently operating from substandard premises.

Transparency and Community Engagement

As mentioned above, the Socialist Alliance believes that all development projects, big or small, should be fully subject to public scrutiny, democratic control and regulation in the interest of the community and the environment.

All major development projects should be under the control of the public and their governing boards should be:

  • Elected by the community;
  • Accountable to the public;
  • Subject to recall by the electorate; and
  • Provision should be made for major issues to be submitted to community‑initiated referenda.

Therefore, Socialist Alliance calls for direct community participation (through direct democracy, not just “consultation”) in the development, finalisation, implementation and ongoing evaluation of any plan for RW.

We are committed to fighting for a future for RW in which the most marginalised will have a place in the RW of tomorrow, and not just those who can afford to live in a gentrified inner city of the future.

Further, I am committed to using my campaigning efforts (that will extend beyond elections) and any office I may be elected to as political platforms from which to work with other community activists to mobilise a broad community movement for a radical extension of direct democracy and a total reversal of the dominant corporate profits‑first political orthodoxy.

Questions on the RWA Plans

Socialist Alliance opposes the advancement of an 18‑story “commercial core” in Redfern. This will help turn Redfern over to big commercial interests and increase the marginalisation of the poorest in the inner city.

We would support a plan to assist the Redfern community develop cooperatives and other enterprises under their control. Such a plan should also include quality public housing.

The Socialist Alliance opposes the sales of parts of North Eveleigh to fund the redevelopment of Redfern Station. The notion that it necessary to privatise public assets to preserve other public utilities is dead wrong. It is a refrain the NSW state Labor government repeats ad nauseum, and it is driven by the close relationship between the state government and its developer mates. There would be enough money to pay for the needed station upgrade in the state budget if there was some redirection on spending. For instance, the state government subsidies to tollway companies and other big companies seeking to privatise public utilities should end.

We would support proposals to lessen the impact of main roads in the area surrounding inner city stations, including Redfern, but we are opposed to using this as a justification of public‑private partnership (PPP) system, now clearly exposed as a way of privatising public assets, and handing public monies to the private sector. Making RW development yet another disastrous PPP ‑ like the airport link and the cross‑city tunnel ‑ must not be supported on the basis of promises of a little extra funding for traffic amelioration.

Socialist Alliance believes that the cost of reducing the impact of main roads on the communities should be met by the RTA and the state budget. PPPs are not a funding solution to this problem as Sydney residents have learnt at great cost.

Socialist Alliance is calling for free and extended public transport because we believe that it will not only have enormous health benefits, it will reduce greenhouse gas pollution and ease congestion on Sydney’s roads. The experience during the Olympic games in Sydney, where public transport was briefly free in the city, was a demonstration of the benefits of a free public transport. Pollution levels dropped, road rage did too and commuters had smiles on their faces! There would also likely to be a significant financial gain – including spending on health care – from such a step. (See Socialist Alliance Environment Policy attached)

Socialist Alliance opposes the government’s reduction of residential floor space on The Block. It should be increased to cater for homeless residents in the inner city.

Socialist Alliance opposes the 12‑story zoning over the area currently occupied by the Large Erecting Shop and support some continued active heritage rail and associated tourism use of the Large Erecting Shop. Eveleigh would be better used as a community heritage/cultural/educational centre.

Socialist Alliance supports the inclusion of an interpretive tourist link of the heritage sites listed in the RWA’s gazetted heritage map to showcase the earlier use of the site and people who worked at Eveleigh.

Socialist Alliance does not support the sale of the former Rachel Foster site to pay for a new community health centre in the former court house and police station. As above, we believe that the question of where the money comes from relates to the question of budget priorities. Our priority would be to meet the community’s needs, not the developers.

Socialist Alliance believes that with proper planning – housing, education and employment and services – the fact that population densities are increasing in the inner city would not be a problem. The erosion of the public amenities only comes as governments refuse to spend funds on their upkeep. We would be campaigning for this to take place, and for the costs to be met from public revenue, from steeper progressive taxation and if necessary through long‑term public borrowing.

Socialist Alliance support the under grounding of all cabling in redevelopment areas and the provision of infrastructure for high speed internet for new and existing residents.

Socialist Alliance supports the idea that developers ensure construction is environmentally sustainable with respect to electricity usage for lighting/climate control, storm water re‑usage. We also support the upgrade of services infrastructure, electricity, water supply and sewage, to cope with the increase demand caused by the higher population densities, and for developers to contribute into a repair fund against building work that could potentially alter ground and ground water levels damaging surrounding existing structures.

Public Housing (To be covered in BEP Stage 2)

Socialist Alliance believes that public housing should be massively extended (see Socialist Alliance Housing Policy attached). Housing (and urban development) in NSW is a mess that can only begin to be solved by boosting public, community and cooperative (social) housing—not only as welfare housing but as a real alternative to the private housing market.

We live in a wealthy society. There is no excuse for tolerating homelessness or sky‑high mortgage repayments and rents.

We advocate a large‑scale building program to make good quality, energy efficient, affordable public housing the aim being to eliminate the 200,000 housing shortfall in 10 years (this would roughly mean building one new public, cooperative or community house for every two private houses over this period). We also advocate the creation of more social housing for rent by introducing legislation compelling construction companies to build one new home for rent for every ten new homes built for sale. This would provide around 4000 new homes for rent each year.

The service needs and social impacts of public housing estates being made up of higher needs tenants must be met with state‑funded increases in appropriate services and mandatory affirmative action education, training and employment polices imposed on government and all large private businesses.

The Socialist Alliance wants to see the number of public housing units sharply increased and public housing extended beyond “welfare housing” to a more broadly available public housing that steadily replaces the private housing market which is increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible for most of the population.

The Socialist Alliance therefore opposes the current government position of reducing the proportion of the population in public housing in RW by doubling the RW population while maintaining the same number of public tenants. We totally oppose public private partnership redevelopment of existing public housing.

Affordable Housing (To be covered in BEP Stage 2)

In line with the Socialist Alliance’s policy of a radical extension of public housing beyond so‑called “welfare housing”, we support affordable housing being developed in RW within the framework of public ownership and services.

Therefore, the Socialist Alliance considers opposes any reliance on PP “funding” to develop public housing and supports public housing – like public health and education – becoming a universal right.

Human Services Plan

The government has a duty to address the issues in relation to RW’s large and increasing elderly population. Services at stretching point need to be rapidly expanded and this should include the establishment of a residential facility for elderly for whom independent living is no longer an option. The cost should be met from public revenue.

To address both the crisis and long‑term health needs of drug users in the area, as well as the social disruption and crime associated with the drug trade in the area, society needs to take immediate harm minimisation measures as well as address the underlying social problems. Central to this should be the affirmative action programs targeting the most oppressed sectors of our society, including the Indigenous community.

Alcohol‑related street and domestic violence issues have to be addressed in the same area as other substance abuse problems, i.e. with immediate harm minimization measures as well as steps to address the underlying social problems. The Socialist Alliance supports the establishment of more wet centres and safe injecting rooms and increased funding for culturally specific drug and alcohol detox facilities.

The treatment of people with mental health or dual diagnosis issues is one of the most shameful aspects of 21st century Australian society. This is a direct result of years of cutbacks in services and also a symptom of the growing alienation from society that a large number of people now experience.

To address this, governments at all levels must turn away from the so‑called “free market” approach that has dominated government policy for too long. The former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher epitomised the social vandalism at the heart of this approach with the declaration that “there is no society, only individuals”. Under this slogan community has been subjected to the most brutal and sustained assault imaginable. We urgently need to rebuild community.

Employment and Enterprise Plan

Current private‑market oriented employment and “enterprise” services are a failure and in many cases nothing more that a rort for private profit‑makers. The so‑called improved job market is a mirage to the worst off sections of our society. As Adele Horin reported in the February 26, 2007 issue of the Sydney Morning Herald:

“The economic boom has failed to improve the lives of tens of thousands of Australians, leaving them locked into communities of deep disadvantage…

“Some communities identified as disadvantaged 30 years ago are still deprived as jobs growth alone has been unable to solve decades of deprivation and governments have not implemented long‑term strategies, a study shows.”

The Socialist Alliance argues that it is time to abandon this ineffectual adaptation to the extreme right wing, neo‑liberal ideological orthodoxy in the traditional governing parties. To make any serious impact n this “deep disadvantage” we need to break with this discredited approach and adopt a people and environment‑first not a profit‑first approach.

Related Socialist Alliance NSW 2007 Election Policy


By Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance candidate for Marrickville

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