Gladys Berejiklian has accused Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore of playing “political games” over a homeless encampment in the city centre.
“It has become increasingly clear that Clover Moore has no interest in resolving this issue and serving her ratepayers, but would rather play political games,” the NSW premier said in a statement on Sunday.
“We call on councillors of the City of Sydney to do their jobs and move against this blatant act of politicking at their council meeting on Monday night.”
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and NSW Social Housing Minister Pru Goward previously urged Ms Moore to resolve the issue at crisis talks on Friday.
However, Ms Moore said the camp wouldn’t be dismantled until she was assured there was a long-term housing solution for the residents, dismissing the premier’s accusation of politicising the issue.
“I will not support moving on homeless without certainty they have support and permanent homes to go to,” Ms Moore said in a statement.
“That isn’t politicking, it is doing my job to support society’s most vulnerable, as my community expects.”
Ms Berejiklian in her statement on Sunday said that if the council didn’t do anything to resolve the issue, the state government would.
“The NSW government should not be required to do the job of council, but in extreme circumstances where the lord mayor will not do what is required and uses public property and people’s lives to make a statement, we may be forced to do so,” she said.
The police commissioner has indicated he wants a resolution by the end of the weekend – and that has placed the camp’s residents on edge.
Dubbed the Mayor of Martin Place, Lanz Priestley said camp organisers had an obligation to continue to provide safety, shelter, food and support to the residents, regardless of the talks going on behind closed doors.
“Touch wood someone will consult with us at some point along the line,” the camp organiser told AAP late on Saturday.
“They haven’t so far.”
Mr Priestley is concerned about the few lines of dialogue which have emerged from the discussions so far.
“I laughed when they started to call it a protest – protesters go home,” he said.
“But changing the narrative, getting people on board with the idea of this being a protest makes it political.
“They can be seen to smash a protest, they can’t be seen smashing a community of homeless people.”
Ms Goward on Sunday said Family and Community Services staff had been to the camp 44 times and had permanently housed 70 people.