‘Fear’ descends on Sydney’s homeless camp

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and NSW Social Housing Minister Pru Goward urged Sydney City Lord Mayor Clover Moore to resolve the issue at crisis talks on Friday.


But Ms Moore said the camp won’t be dismantled until she’s assured there’s a long-term housing solution for the residents.


Mr Fuller said he wanted a resolution by the end of the weekend. A NSW Police spokeswoman told AAP, as of Saturday night, there were still no official plans to enter the camp.

Regardless, Mr Fuller’s alluded-to deadline had triggered a wave of fear among the tent city’s approximately 60 residents, spokesman Lanz Priestly said.

“What the powers-that-be have done is put fear into one of the most marginalised groups in Australian society,” he told AAP.

“There is a fear in the camp that something is going to happen, whether it’s the police, state or local governments.”

Early morning raid ‘opportune time’

Mr Priestly said an early morning raid, before the journalists watching the camp begin their morning shift on Sunday, would be the opportune time for authorities to forcibly uproot the camp.

But he felt it was unlikely the police would be the ones to take that tactic, given their history of treating the campers with courtesy.

“The police are cognisant enough to know people have nowhere else to go,” he said.

“This (camp) reduces other areas of crime “But we know police at (local command level) are happy to co-operate. They came through a full three days beforehand to tell us their operational plan the last time they moved us.”

Homeless shelters are scattered throughout Martin Place in Sydney’s Central Business District.AAP

Dubbed the Mayor of Martin Place, Mr Priestly 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,” he said.

“They haven’t so far.”

Mr Priestly 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.”

There are reports temporary housing has been offered to those living in the camp but a resident told AAP many had refused because there was no guarantee of long term accommodation.