Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Millers Point Update December 2016

Rev Fred Nile and local MP Alex Greenwich join Millers Point residents at their Christmas Party
This is an update on the previous blog.

On 31 October 2016 Shelter NSW and the Tenants' Union of NSW held a forum on 'Large-scale relocations of tenants in public housing - learning from tenants' experience'. You may check out the two main presentations on the Shelter NSW website. Professor Alan Morris spoke to his brief, entitled ‘A Contemporary Forced Urban Removal: The Displacement of Public Housing Residents from Millers Point, Dawes Point and the Sirius Building by the New South Wales Government’ and Paul Vevers from the NSW Government’s Family and Community Services replied to his report. You can read both presentations here.

On 26 November 2016 Millers Point residents and friends enjoyed a concert called ‘Sing for Joy’ with two choirs. The concert also saw the launch of a crowdfunding campaign for the film called ‘Forced out’.

Keep up-to-date on the campaign to save the Sirius building here. You can read about the pending court case here.

Update on the statistics...
You will find the breakdown of properties, tenancies and number of resident at the start of the sale process in SGS Economics & Planning, 'Millers Point and The Rocks: An alternative way forward', Final report, August 2014, Table 1 (Social housing breakdown), p 4. At the outset there were 293 properties, 543 tenancies, 410 occupied tenancies and 590 tenants and household members. Along the way, Darling House, an aged care facility, also was sold.

At 1 December 2016 133 properties have been sold for $348.56M with a median sale price of $2.39M and sales in the range $1.54M and $12.30M. (The top price was for a block of 12 one-bedroom apartments covering 7 properties sold in one line.) Based upon sales to date, an updated estimate of funds to be received from these sales is $677.21M.

The stamp duty owed to the NSW Government from existing sales is a further $18.13M or just under 5% of total revenue from sales and stamp duty combined.

There are still 161 properties to be sold, including 79 in the Sirius building. (This figure includes 28 units in a fewer number of properties where sales were ‘deferred’ and the remaining residents at this time given an option of applying for tenancies in these units.)

Here’s the NSW Government Property’s latest media release on Millers Point.

At the meeting of Millers Point Estates Advisory Board on 16 November 2016 Family & Community Services Housing NSW reported:
  • 399 tenancies in the portfolio.
  • 358 have been vacated.
  • Of the 41 remaining tenancies (numbering 59 tenant and household members) to be relocated:
    • 11 (numbering 17 tenant and household members) are from FACS Housing NSW and involve 5 residents approved for moving into alternative accommodation within Millers Point and 6 approved for moving outside of Millers Point.
    • 28 (numbering 39 tenant and household members) are from FACS Housing NSW and remain unallocated
    • 2 (numbering 3 tenant and household members) are from Little Real Estate and remain unallocated 
  • 7 of the 41 remaining tenancies (covering11 tenant and household members) are in the Sirius Building and of these: 
    • 2 involve residents approved for moving into alternative accommodation, with 1 within Millers Point and 1 outside of Millers Point.
    • 5 remain unallocated.
  • 28 properties in Millers Point were set aside for remaining tenants and household members. Of these, 15 remain unoccupied. 
Altogether 520 tenant and household members have vacated, with a further 17 committed to moving and 42 still uncommitted to moving.
Postscript ...
The principal real estate agency which has been helping the NSW Government empty Millers Point of its social housing tenants is McGrath Real Estate. You may recall that two years ago McGrath’s then chief executive, John McGrath, named Millers Point as his 'top pick' in the company's annual report. And, between August 2014 and December 2016 McGrath Real Estate sold 103 properties in Millers Point for in excess of $302 million. They are selling many more ... doing their bit to turn Millers Point into an enclave for the wealthy in a more and more divided city.

So it is interesting to hear what McGrath's chairperson, Cass O'Connor, told investors at their recent Annual Meeting: ‘When our society's teachers, nurses, police and emergency services personnel cannot afford to live in the communities they serve, housing affordability can very quickly become a factor in social and economic dislocation.’

Monday, November 28, 2016

Proposed rezoning of Arncliffe, Banksia and Cooks Cove

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment is seeking feedback on their proposed Bayside West Precincts Land Use and Infrastructure Strategy, including through an online survey here.

From the Planning and Environment website:
The Bayside West Precincts Land Use and Infrastructure Strategy is now on exhibition until 28 February 2017. We are keen to hear more about what you think is important for the precinct and the strategy.
And in a media release today, Social Housing Minister Brad Hazzard suggests this includes plans to "boost social housing in Arncliffe" with the proposed redevelopment of a Land and Housing Corporation site. The proposal would see 142 one, two and three bedroom public housing dwellings demolished to make way for up to 600 new private, affordable and social housing dwellings, using the Communities Plus renewal model.

The full media release is reproduced below:
More social and affordable housing and new private housing is on the way with the proposed redevelopment of a Land and Housing Corporation site in Arncliffe. 
Minister for Social Housing Brad Hazzard said sites big and small across the state were being redeveloped under the Communities Plus program. 
“We are taking tired old housing in Arncliffe, partnering with the private sector and community housing providers to redevelop it at no cost to taxpayers – and getting 30 per cent more new social housing, along with affordable and private housing. 
“It’s a win-win for existing tenants who will get the new homes and for vulnerable families and individuals on the waiting list needing new homes. 
“All the evidence is that mixed communities deliver better social outcomes and residents of Eden Street, Arncliffe will benefit from the new opportunities coming their way.” 
The proposed rezoning of the site is part of a larger exhibition by the Department of Planning and Environment of a proposed rezoning to precincts within Arncliffe, Banksia and Cooks Cove. 
The site currently has 142 social housing units, a mix of studios, 1, 2, and 3 bedroom homes. Under new proposals, the site could be re-zoned and replaced with a mix of up to approximately 600 private, affordable and social housing dwellings. 
Mr Hazzard said housing officers had great experience helping vulnerable tenants through temporary relocations, before tenants moved back on site into new homes. Tenants will be assisted and kept informed of timelines, and are encouraged to view the draft plans and give their feedback. 
Communities Plus will deliver up to 23,000 new and replacement social housing dwellings, 500 affordable housing dwellings and up to 40,000 private dwellings over a 10 year period, in a $22 billion investment program with the private and not-for-profit sectors. 
Other major sites already announced as part of the Communities Plus program include Ivanhoe, Telopea, Riverwood and Waterloo.

Tenants money builds affordable housing

A recent media release from the Minister for Social Housing, Brad Hazzard, refers to the NSW Government committing $270million to affordable housing projects during the first four rounds of the now discontinued National Rental Affordability Scheme.

A portion of that $270million comes from tenants' money.

Pages 28 and 29 of the Rental Bond Board's 2015/16 Annual Report show grants and subsidies in the amount of $2.5million going to NRAS in both 2015 and 2016.

The Minister's media release is reproduced here in full:
Some Sydneysiders who have been struggling to rent have been able to move into brand new affordable housing in Sydney’s west, paying rents at least 20 per cent below the market rate. 
Minister for Family and Community Services and Social Housing, Brad Hazzard has officially opened the new Bridge Housing development at the Bungarribee estate in Blacktown. 
“The NSW Government has forged very close ties with the Community Housing Sector, both in the provision of social housing and affordable housing, and I am delighted that Bridge Housing has been able to support so many people with this development,” Mr Hazzard said. 
CEO of Bridge Housing, John Nicolades, said “We are delighted to have completed our first major affordable housing development, providing 65 well designed and energy efficient homes to families struggling in Sydney’s difficult housing market.
“We have another two projects that will deliver a further 47 affordable homes by December 2016.”
Bridge Housing’s $25 million development has been built on land purchased from UrbanGrowth NSW in 2013, with the support of $1.8 million in FACS funding and incentives and funds from the Commonwealth through the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS). 
New figures from FACS shows that a record 1,252 new affordable rental homes were delivered under the NRAS in 2015-16, bringing the total number to 4,653.
NSW committed around $270 million during the first four NRAS rounds, with NSW’s contribution attracting over $1 billion in additional funding commitments from Community Housing Providers and private sector investors.
Thirty-one of the homes owned by Bridge will be permanent affordable housing; thirty-four have been sold to private investors to help fund the project, and are leased as affordable housing for the next 10 years.

Central to Eveliegh: urban transformation strategy released

UrbanGrowth NSW has released a strategy document outlining a vision for the Central to Eveleigh corridor:
UrbanGrowth NSW has developed an Urban Transformation Strategy for around 50 hectares of government-owned land in and around the rail corridor from Central to Erskineville Stations. 
After two years of studies, assessments and conversations with the community, we’ve finalised the Strategy as an important reference document to help guide development over the next 20 to 30 years. 
The Strategy contains an ambition, vision and the ten key moves that set the framework for the future delivery of more homes alongside better public transport, new parks and community facilities. 
During the development of the Strategy, a number of major NSW Government policy and infrastructure announcements have been made, including new Sydney Metro stations at Waterloo and Central, the new Communities Plus initiative to renew social housing and the establishment of the Greater Sydney Commission to lead district planning across Sydney. 
The purpose of the Strategy has changed, from 2014 to now, in response to these announcements. It now informs the Greater Sydney Commission’s draft Central Sydney District Plan and will also be used as an important reference document for future planning in the area. 
It will not be a statutory document, or a re-zoning proposal. The Strategy takes a smart city thinking approach to sustainable growth for Sydney’s future and outlines the contribution that government-owned land can play in this future.
The strategy countenances 10 key moves:
We have developed 10 key moves, shaped by consultation with the community and our partners, that we think can help us achieve the vision for the area. Together they will contribute to the long term success of the city and improve the way people live, work and enjoy life, as well as create new homes and jobs.
1. Renew Redfern Station and connect Redfern to Wilson Street
This key move will see Redfern Station Precinct as more than just a place to catch a train. Redfern Station will better connect the University of Sydney with Australian Technology Park to drive economic development.
2. Create a green network
Under this key move, a green network in a busy area of Sydney will encourage people to get active and enjoy an abundance of public open space, all networked around green, leafy and more attractive streets.
3. Create walking and cycling connections across the railway corridor
Under this key move, the rail corridor will be less of a barrier for pedestrians and cyclists – it will be easier to connect across neighbourhoods. Community and education facilities will become more accessible to all the communities.
4. Connect the city with surrounding places
This key move is about the design and layout of the local road network, which can better balance the need for local activity and regional movements.
5. Deliver a new metro station at Waterloo
This key move reflects the NSW Government’s announcement that Waterloo will be the location of a new Sydney Metro station. This will provide a high-frequency public transport service that directly links to jobs at Barangaroo, Martin Place and north-west Sydney.
6. Create centres of activity around stations
This key move will give the local community access day-to-day and community services and employment right near the stations – with shops, services, cultural places and work environments promoting activity in public areas that are safe day and night.
7. Create a centre for Sydney's growing economies
This key move will better connect the University of Sydney, Australian Technology Park, University of Technology, Sydney, Ultimo, Redfern and Surry Hills. It aims to establish an exciting centre, with a cluster of new, innovative and creative jobs that will benefit from links with education and medical facilities, easy connections to the CBD, and dynamic new workplaces in adaptively re-used heritage spaces.
8. Strengthen arts, culture and heritage
This key move will bring the area’s unique culture and heritage to life, often in beautifully restored, older buildings that will attract visitors to an exciting, revitalised arts and cultural hub that also emphasises the area’s Aboriginal history.
9. Integrate new high-density mixed use buildings with existing neighbourhoods and places
Transformed neighbourhoods will set a benchmark for integrating different types of buildings and structures, old and new, and will promote a variety of uses. Excellence in design quality, density done well principles including sensible transitions from taller buildings around stations and key locations along the rail line, down to existing one or two storey buildings, will respect everything that is great about the traditional character of surrounding neighbourhoods.
10. Deliver a diversity of housing choice, tenure and price points
This key move will provide more options for different people who want to live in this area. This will help retain its unique diversity, attracting different types of people and enabling long-term residents to stay in their local communities.
Find the full strategy document here.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Who is the landlord in this brave new world?

With the foreshadowed, large-scale transfers of public housing stock to the community housing sector, the question arises as to who is the landlord.

Read our answer to this question here.

Learning from tenants' experience

Previously we wrote about Alan Morris's brief prepared by Shelter NSW entitled 'A contemporary forced urban removal: The displacement of public housing residents from Millers Point, Dawes Point and the Sirius Building by the New South Wales Government' here .

On 31 October 2016 Shelter NSW and Tenants' Union of NSW held a forum to discuss the implications of this report. The theme of the forum was 'Large-scale relocations of tenants in public housing - learning from tenants' experience'. The presentations are available here.

Alternatively, just click the following links:

Alan Morris - Overview of the report, A Contemporary Forced Urban Removal: The Displacement of Public Housing Residents from Millers Point, Dawes Point and the Sirius Building by the New South Wales Government. Available here

Paul Vevers (Family and Community Services Housing NSW) - Reply to Report on Millers Point Relocations. Available here

Waterloo screening at 107 Projects

At the end of last year the Premier announced plans for the redevelopment of the Waterloo Public Housing Estates as part of Communities Plus.  The Waterloo community, especially public housing residents, responded quickly to ensure their voices will be heard throughout the planning process. This has included, though not at all limited to, setting up a platform for documenting and sharing residents’ concerns about the future of Waterloo via the website We Live Here.

Next week 107 Projects will be hosting a screening event of Tom Zubrycki’s documentary Waterloo from 1981.  Waterloo provides an important account of residents’ campaign to save the area from slum clearance and redevelopment by public housing authorities through the 1970s.

The event will also screen an early trailer for a documentary currently being filmed - We Live Here 2017 – that aims to tell the story of people who live in public housing at Waterloo now and the place they call home.

Details for the event:
WHEN: 6.30pm - 8 Nov 2016

As the organisers of the event explain: “With the impending threat of destruction by the state government, narratives around sense of place and cultural heritage have never been more relevant.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Millers Point Update October 2016

There has been considerable recent media coverage of the forced relocation of residents of Millers Point. Elsewhere we reported on Professor Alan Morris's Shelter Brief entitled 'A contemporary forced urban removal: The displacement of public housing residents from Millers Point, Dawes Point and the Sirius Building by the New South Wales Government'.

Ann Arnold of ABC's Radio National provides excellent coverage of 'the battle over Sydney's heart' in Millers Point. Her 'Background Briefing' segment runs for 40 minutes and you can hear it here.  It first was broadcast on Background Briefing at 8am on Sunday, 9 October. The transcript is now up. Click on ‘Show transcript’ here.  An article about this story is found here.

Ann Arnold and Tiger Webb, also of ABC's Radio National, write about the last days at Millers Point of Florence, Cherie and Barney, some of the few residents left.  Read their stories here.

And, the rally to save the Sirius Building, on which there is now a Green Ban, attracted over a thousand protesters. View this story here.

An update on the statistics of Millers Point ...

You will find the breakdown of properties, tenancies and number of resident at the start of the sale process in
SGS Economics & Planning, 'Millers Point and The Rocks: An alternative way forward', Final report, August 2014, Table 1 (Social housing breakdown), p 4. At the outset there were 293 properties, 543 tenancies, 410 occupied tenancies and 590 tenants and household members.  Along the way, Darling House, an aged care facility, also was sold.

At 27 October 2016, 105 properties have been sold for $288.09M with a median sale price of $2.46M and sales in the range $1.54M and $7.70M. Based upon sales to date, a revised and updated estimate of funds to be received from these sales is $689.89M.
The stamp duty owed to the NSW Government from existing sales is a further $14.86M or just under 5% of total revenue from sales and stamp duty combined.

There are still 189 properties to be sold, including 79 in the Sirius building. (This figure includes 28 units in a fewer number of properties where sales were ‘deferred’ and the remaining residents at this time given an option of applying for tenancies in these units.)  A further 28 properties are currently list for sale: 13 through Expression of Interest that closed on 1 November 2016, a block of 7 properties to be sold in one line at auction on 30 November 2016 and 8 (2 lots of 2 to be sold as single properties) at auction on 30 November 2016. All proposed sales are displayed here.


At the meeting of Millers Point Estates Advisory Board on 10 October 2016 Housing NSW reported:
•    399 tenancies in the portfolio.
•    353 have been vacated.
•    Of the 46 remaining tenancies to be relocated, 42 (numbering 59 tenant and household members) are from FACS Housing NSW and 4 (numbering 5 people) are from Little Real Estate.
•    16 of the 46 remaining tenancies (including 2 from the Sirius Building) involve residents approved for moving into alternative accommodation (6 staying within Millers Point and 10 outside Millers Point).
•    30 tenancies (numbering  42 people) are still to be rehoused.
•    15 properties set aside for remaining people remain unallocated, although one of these involves a possible allocation.
Of the remaining 30 tenancies, 5 are in the Sirius Building.

The above information tells us that at 10 October 2016, 42 residents are still to be rehoused, and since March 2014 a total of 548 (590 less 42) - or thereabouts - residents have been moved.

(Note there are differences in our sources. Firstly, there is a difference of 14 in the number of properties marked for sale: SGS's table reports 293 properties to be sold, whereas we refer to 279 properties sold or to be sold. Secondly, there is a difference of 11 in the number of 'occupied tenancies' in  SGS's table  and the number of 'tenancies in the portfolio' reported on by Housing NSW at the Millers Point Estates Advisory Board. The figures here are 410 and 399 respectively.)

Revised and updated on 6 November 2016

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Millers Point: A Play in Five Acts

[With apologies to Henrik Ibsen]

[Taken from the transcript of the hearings on Budget Estimates 2016-17 on 29 August to 1 September 2016 of the Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committees Nos 1, 2 and 5. The names of the players are shown.]

Act 1 – Family and Community Service
[Available on-line here.]

The Hon. PAUL GREEN: Can you update the Committee with regard to the current public housing situation at Millers Point and how the Government has responded to the needs of those vulnerable housing tenants, ensuring they are adequately housed and not displaced from ageing in place?
Mr BRAD HAZZARD: It is a challenge. It is a difficult issue. The Government took a view which was that those particular properties were worth so much—as you are aware, when I became Minister I had a chat to the Premier and others about this issue. Initially the view was that each one of those properties could sell for between $1.5 million or $2 million, and possibly $5 million or $6 million.
The $2 million sale of one very old property—usually more than 100 years old, with challenging maintenance issues, and often with an elderly individual living in it—could lead to the rehousing of six families or individuals from the waiting list of 60,000. As much as that was a difficult decision for the Government, the fact was that the sale could raise half a billion dollars and build about 1,500 new homes. That was the policy decision that was taken to try to address the very long public housing waiting list. The last figures I saw showed that the list had gone up by another 2,000 or 3,000. Even though we are building new homes at a rate that has not been seen for years, it is still very challenging. I do not know whether you have seen the really good Auditor-General's report from three or four years ago. I was fascinated to read it because he talked about the fact that the former Government had been forced—as governments sometimes are—to make the decision to reduce the amount of public housing because it had to pay maintenance on the properties. In a sense, it was eating public housing.
We have reversed that. We have created a lot more. I am intent on building a lot more public housing. As recently as last week a Labor Minister from one of the other States came to see what we were doing and to consider how it could work for them. It is difficult. Having said that, I also recognise that there are some folks who have a community of interest. Some people really want to stay in Millers Point. As a result, I approached the Government and the Cabinet and it was agreed that we would put aside 28 units for accommodation. They have all been modernised. They are only small but they are fantastic. Sadly, not all those properties have been taken up. At the moment only about 12 of them have been taken up.
I have asked the department to be as flexible as possible. For example, there are a couple of brothers who are used to living together. In those 28 units there is one three-bedroom, a couple of two-bedrooms and the rest are one-bedroom. That is the evolving accommodation demographic: Most people are living by themselves.It does not mean that they necessarily want just one bedroom for accommodation, unfortunately, but that is what the Auditor-General said that we should be doing. In the case of the two brothers, I asked the department to knock a hole in the wall. That required council approval. The department got council approval and put the two brothers together. We are trying to be flexible.
The Committee would also know that Minister Speakman also recently made a decision about the Sirius building. There are about seven tenants still in there. We are looking to rehouse them. I have been out personally to look at some of the properties. Almost everybody who is being rehoused has been offered really good property in Glebe, Marrickville and Leichhardt—inner-city areas. There are a few people who are saying that they will not move. A few of the younger ones are running a campaign saying that they will not move. I am saying, "I am sorry; you have to move." For those people who have complex needs, there are another 16 units of accommodation available in Millers Point.
The Hon. PAUL GREEN: Do you know the condition of sale of the Sirius building? Why could affordable and public housing not be included in that?
Mr BRAD HAZZARD: There has been no decision taken on that yet. There are two arguments. On the one hand, you could say that on all government-held land there should be some affordable and social housing. Sometimes that happens. On the other hand, by saying that that has to happen to the Sirius building you could substantially reduce the price. You could get a much higher price and build a lot more social and affordable housing somewhere not too far away. I think the answer is that one should probably go with the latter. It is difficult.
The Hon. PAUL GREEN: Providing accommodation on site ties in with the principle of ageing in place. That is pretty important for those people.
Mr BRAD HAZZARD: I understand that. Keep in mind that some people in the Sirius building have been there for only two or three years but are saying they want to stay there.
The Hon. PAUL GREEN: I am talking about the one who has been there for 50 years.
Mr BRAD HAZZARD: There are others for whom I feel the greatest sympathy, but the reality is that I also feel sympathy for the other 60,000 individuals and families on the waiting list.
The Hon. PAUL GREEN: I appreciate that. In 2015-16 what has been the total sale of public housing? What amount is being used to reinvest in developing new social housing?
Mr BRAD HAZZARD: Every cent that comes out of the social housing in Millers Point goes straight into — [end]

Act 2 - Ageing, Disability Services and Multiculturalism
[Available on-line here. ]

The Hon. PAUL GREEN: ... Minister, you would agree that it is important for people to be able to live in and have quality of life in their local communities.
The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: Yes.
The Hon. PAUL GREEN: Can you enlighten us how your department is helping those people around Miller's Point who have been displaced from their housing, given the fact that their communities, their friends and their doctors are local?
The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: I think there are three aspects to that. The first aspect, of course, is that this is a matter for Minister Hazzard, for Family and Community Services. I understand that he was here yesterday morning. It is a matter for his agency to take the lead in relation to that. The reply to the second part of your question is that many seniors and older people are sitting on the waiting list and they are desperate for social housing. The third aspect is that when the sale of a Miller's Point property is able to be utilised to purchase three or four other properties it is appropriate that action is taken from a whole-of-government perspective. That is the action that is being taken. I am well aware, and I know Minister Hazzard is able to answer these questions, that appropriate action — all action — is being taken to assist those seniors currently residing in Miller's Point to transition into another home.
The Hon. PAUL GREEN: Thank you for that. I realise it is another portfolio, but that is not the question that I asked. Are you concerned, as the Minister for Ageing, about the approach to remove people who are ageing in place from their homes? Are you concerned that it will set a dangerous precedent—moving elderly seniors or vulnerable people from their homes, given that their real estate may be attractive to the Government, but that it is not in the interests of those people?
The Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS: It is not their place, it is the Government's place — it is government housing.
The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: I am satisfied that all action is being taken by Minister Hazzard and by the secretary, who is sitting on my left, that appropriate assistance and care have been given to assist those seniors to locate, in many cases to a brand new home in a location that they choose. It was important for me as Minister to be made aware that those actions were being taken sensitively and appropriately to ensure that these residents are relocated. I also indicate that I have met with a number of residents who have located to these new homes — and I have visited these new homes—and they thanked the Government for what has occurred. At the same time, many residents who have been sitting on the waiting list for years—
The Hon. PAUL GREEN: I was not talking about those residents; I was talking about the principle of ageing in place.
The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: I am talking about Miller's Point residents who have moved and who have said to me that they love their new home. You have to weigh up the fact that everybody benefits from the sale of one property to purchase four other properties. As long as you take the appropriate action in being sensitive and providing all the assistance — and that is what is occurring — to answer your question I am satisfied.

Act 3 - Finance Services & Property
[Available on-line here. Rev Fred Nile is Chair]

The CHAIR: As you know there has been a large sale of public housing properties in the Millers Point and The Rocks region. Do you have an estimate of what you anticipate the income will be from that sale?
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: The Millers Point sale?
The CHAIR: And The Rocks. Approximately?
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: I will get the figure.
The CHAIR: What income have you received and what income do you anticipate?
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: In relation to Millers Point property sales, sales are expected to return hundreds of millions of dollars which will be directed back into the social housing system.
The CHAIR: What is the exact figure?
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: That will help more than 60,000 applicants. As at 13 July 2016, 94 properties have been sold with gross sales proceeds totalling $263.4 million. The CHAIR: That is Millers Point?
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: That is Millers Point.
Mr NEWMAN: In Millers Point there are 293 individual properties to be sold. We do not forecast sales from those properties until such time as they are sold because it depends upon market conditions at the time of sale.
The CHAIR: You can make a rough estimate?
Mr NEWMAN: We have not done that. We do not provide that information.
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: You do not provide an estimate or you do not have the information?
Mr NEWMAN: We have not undertaken a forecast for the asset sales for the 293 individual properties.
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: It is a dartboard process?
Mr NEWMAN: We do not forecast asset sales because market conditions change from time to time. We have seen strong markets over the last two years, particularly in the Millers Point sales.
The CHAIR: More than you expected?
Mr NEWMAN: Yes. We would have underestimated if we had tried to forecast sales, so we do not undertake detailed forecasting and provide that. The CHAIR: It has been suggested to me that the table sale of public housing properties in Millers Point and The Rocks will raise in excess of $880 million, including the figure you have quoted.
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: What is important is that there are 94 that have been sold and that has generated $263.4 million. There are, going forward, a further 293 properties to be sold in addition to the 94 that have been achieved so far. It is not for us to make a determination as to what that would be. As you can see, 94 properties netted $263.4 million. The properties are different and there are 293 further properties to be sold and we are working through that process. The CHAIR: The income is far in excess of what you originally anticipated. It has been very successful, in other words.
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: I would say it has been a successful process to date. I do not want to make any commitments in relation to the amount to be obtained from the process. There are 60,000 vulnerable people on a waiting list for social housing. Through this process we will provide further homes to those who need it. For example, if we look at the recent decision not to list the Sirius building, a great decision from the Minister for Heritage, we will now be able to provide 300 extra families with access to social housing.
The CHAIR: That is the point I am seeking to make: How much of that money will go into public housing and how much into general revenue?
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: Two things in relation to that, first, the Government has made a commitment that for any sales in relation to Millers Point the funds will be directed back to social housing. There will be no funds going to consolidated revenue, the funds go directly to social housing. Second, as with other areas of government, if an agency sells an asset those funds go back into the capital expenditure for that agency going forward. We want to incentivise good financial management within agencies to ensure the increase in capital expenditure over the years is supported through them looking at better ways to manage their asset portfolios. We put those measures in place to ensure that they do just that. Millers Point is a fine example of that process having a strong effect to help the vulnerable people in the State. The CHAIR: You mentioned the Sirius building. What are the plans for that building?
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: The heritage Minister made a decision to not list the Sirius building on the heritage register. That was a decision he made.
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: Despite advice.
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: We are the Government, we make decisions.
The CHAIR: What is the next step?
Mr NEWMAN: Chair, the next step in the process is for us to undertake a sale strategy for that asset. That is what we are working on now. That sales strategy will include determining what is the right method to take the asset to market and what action we should take to put that asset in the right condition for sale. That may include undertaking a detailed review of items such as the title, building condition, the current planning consents on current planning approvals for the asset and other normal due diligence you would undertake on an asset prior to sale.
The CHAIR: Does that include demolition of the building and selling empty land for redevelopment?
Mr NEWMAN: No, there has been no decision on demolition of the building. That is part of the development of the strategy, whether or not you sell the building as it is. The Government has not made any decision on the structure itself at this stage.
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: Some of us have personal opinions on the quality of the architecture.
The CHAIR: I know there is a big debate on it. Some people wish to retain it.
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: Including the Heritage Council.
The CHAIR: I have visited the Sirius building and spoken to elderly female residents who are still living there. I hope you do not demolish it too quickly, because there are people living in it at the moment.
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: The Minister for Family and Community services is dealing sensitively with that process.
The CHAIR: I know it is the responsibility of another Minister, but the challenge is to make sure that those people are relocated to reasonable accommodation in the future.
Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET: I accept that these are difficult decisions and there are sensitive elements to them. I believe that the Government is taking the right approach. We are doing this in a way that ensures we balance the care and needs of those who are vulnerable who currently live in those buildings—and who, in many circumstances, have been doing so for some time—with the need of other vulnerable families to access social housing.

Act 4 – Premier [Available on-line here.  Again, Rev Fred Nile is Chair.]

The CHAIR: I have been involved in helping residents in The Rocks and Millers Point especially the very aged residents, particularly females, in the Sirius building. I know you have had great success with selling public housing properties in Millers Point and The Rocks. Figures given to me show that if everything is sold it could raise in excess of $880 million, which is far more than your original estimate of $380 million. Forty tenants still remain in Millers Point who have not received an offer of alternative public housing that meets their needs. The majority of them are frail aged residents who have probably lived in the community all their lives. Does the Government have a proposal to reconsider its approach to the remaining residents to let them remain in public housing in Millers Point or The Rocks?
Mr MIKE BAIRD: The advice I have is that the expectation is $500 million as opposed to the $800 million estimate that you have quoted. That will provide 1,500 new homes, so more than three to one in terms of the number of additional dwellings provided, which is the rationale. To date about 100 properties have been sold and about $260 odd million raised, which has gone towards 650 new homes. But we also understand the circumstances of some of those tenants, the frail and the elderly. The Minister has taken a personal interest to ensure that we listen and respond to those circumstances. We have ensured that a number of dwellings will remain and provide an opportunity for them rather than ask them to move out. The Minister understands those concerns and is directly providing support for those tenants.
The CHAIR: Is there a possibility of retaining the Sirius building?
Mr MIKE BAIRD: The Minister has made a decision in relation to its heritage status. Again, we will do everything in relation to public housing to ensure that the tenants are looked after as part of that process.

Act 5 – The Environment, Heritage  [Unfortunately both Labor and the Greens did not weigh in on the day. Available on-line here. Representatives of both parties were silent on the Sirius building but have included some related questions in the Supplementaries that are to be answered before the end of September. On the same day Myra was speaking out. Check 'The story of my life' here. Keep up the fight, Myra!]