Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Redfern to be gentrified

You can't improve an area without gentrifying it, stated Frank Sartor this morning on 702 radio while touting Labor's intention to re-develop the Redfern area with another 'grand plan' .

He was responding to Angela Catterns who was concerned about the impact of the 'grand plan' on the Block and the Redfern indigenous community, which suffers 60% unemployment and a much bigger heroin problem than the rest of the community.

The only logical conclusion is that Sartor thinks the re-development will either gentrify the indigenous community, or displace it. Judging by the results of Frank's plans for the Cross, displacement is the real agenda. Gentrifiers love displacement -- for example the push by Stephen Carnell of the Kings Cross Partnership to have the public phones removed from the corner of Bayswater and Darlinghurst roads because drug dealers use them. This ignores the fact that those phones are so well-used only because the phones from in front of the station had been removed for the same reason, forcing the phone traffic closer to businesses which are now worse affected. A great analogy would be re-arranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic. Displacement is no solution.

I can remember in 1973 when the Block itself was supposed to be the magic bullet, the theory being that problems would be solved by granting communal ownership of an area so tribal patterns could operate -- as distinct from shoving Aboriginal families into white communities and expecting them to adopt a nuclear family culture. That didn't work -- according to Anglo standards and statistics, although getting rid of the Block is not necessarily an answer either.

Clover Moore has responded, agreeing that action is needed, but it must be 'the right action' (click headline for ABC story).

In both Redfern and the Cross, the biggest single action which could mitigate the worst problems is controlled supply of heroin to registered addicts. This would, over time, reduce daily dosages, slash the demand which supports the illegal dealer chain, and remove the motivator for most of the real crime inflicted on the rest of the community. Bob Carr however totally rejects this. After all, the other path will make massive profits for developers and fuel ever more expenditure on policing and jails.

A clue about the 'grand plan' was revealed when the president of the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce phoned 702 to complain that they had not been consulted by Sartor. Sound familiar? Breezy Frank said he would welcome a call, even managing a hint of a chuckle.

Opposition leader John Brogden thinks it is a plan for a new government authority above Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, according to today's Telegraph. In that he is correct -- but his solution of bulldozing the lot is essentially the same as Labor's -- just less subtle.

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