NEWS

Tent City No More: NSW Government Gives Itself Powers To Move On Tent Settlers

Leaders have argued over what to do for a week.

08/08/2017 3:03 PM AEST | Updated 08/08/2017 3:04 PM AEST
Fairfax
Tent city in front of the Reserve Bank of Australia HQ in Martin Place may be demolished. Photo Michele Mossop

The NSW government is going to give itself the power to remove homeless people from a tent settlement situated on crown land in the Sydney CBD.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the proposed legislation will be introduced to Parliament on Tuesday, and it's reportedly expected to pass and be enforced by the end of the week.

"Last night I heard the mayor say that the tent city would be gone overnight and that hasn't happened, and I said we would give council until last night, it has not happened, so we'll be taking action today," Berejiklian told reporters.

"Homelessness is a major challenge in our community and I am proud of our Government's record to help our most vulnerable and of course there is more to do.

"However we will not let protesters play political games with those in genuine need of support."

The bill will empower NSW Police to remove people or goods from Martin Place, and other public reserves in the City of Sydney by proclamation, where there are unacceptable impacts on the public.

An earlier plan agreed upon by city council and tent dwellers to move out overnight appeared to fall through.

The 'tent city' has been in the same spot on-and-off for a number of months and is situated outside the Reserve Bank of Australia and just metres from NSW parliament.

A free cafe has also sprung-up in the foot-traffic heavy area, and is set against a temporary wall near the RBA along with seats arranged in a neat row near a make-shift bookcase and standing piano.

Minister for Social Housing Pru Goward said the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) had been in Martin Place 46 times and secured permanent housing for 73 people.

Fairfax
Tent city in front of the Reserve Bank of Australia HQ in Martin Place may be demolished.

FACS staff were in Martin Place again this morning and will continue to be there to provide support and accommodation for homeless people.

"Any person who has engaged with FACS workers on the ground in Martin Place has been offered accommodation," Goward said.

"FACS will continue to visit Martin Place every single day this week."

The NSW Government has also announced that an after-hours service for rough sleepers in Sydney has been secured with the Wayside Chapel delivering the hub in Potts Point, with the after-hours service to be fully funded by the NSW Government.

Earlier on Tuesday the so-called mayor of tent city, Lanz Priestley, had agreed on behalf of the homelessness camp to dismantle the tents as soon as Tuesday morning, when the first council trucks were expected to move in.

Berejiklian last week asked Lord Mayor Clover Moore "to do what's in her powers to move them on", telling the press the settlement made her "completely uncomfortable".

From there Goward weighed in, calling on Moore to act on "these public safety issues in Martin Place."

The political fight quickly spiralled into a who-has-responsibility-for-moving-them-on argument.

There are about 105,000 people experiencing homelessness in Australia, according to the 2011 census.

​​​​​​​The NSW go

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