Public housing tenants protest East-West Link

[By Sue Bolton] Public housing tenants and nearby residents gathered at Debney’s Park in Melbourne’s inner-west to protest the impact of the East West Link on public housing flats, Debney’s Park and the Flemington Community Centre. The protest was organised by local Greens MP Adam Bandt.

Yasseen Musa, a leader of the local African community living in the flats, told the protesters: “It took 15 years to get a sports ground, then another 10 years to get two soccer pitches and a pavilion. Now we have a soccer team for the African community.

“The playground cost $3 million and was only installed two years ago. Now, after all this, the East West Link will come and take part of the Flemington Community Centre, the playground and the [community] garden. There are over 3500 people living in the flats, mostly single mothers with four to five kids in flats that are too small. There’ll be nowhere for kids to play if the playground goes.

“The East West Link will [be] 24 metres from the [public housing] flats at 120 Racecourse Road. We won’t have free access to the flats once the East West Link is built. We don’t know what the noise abatement will be.”

Another resident said the East West Link would block sunlight and threaten the playground. “We don’t want to move and we don’t want to lose this playground. This is our heritage. It is our history place.”

Bandt said: “If built, the $12 billion road project will destroy the local children’s playground and community garden, and remove half of the community centre. We want a backyard, not a tollway.”

Other speakers pointed out that residents of the public housing flats already suffered from the Citylink tollway being so close. The East West Link will be built just 25 metres from their windows.

Owners of private apartment blocks will have their units bought by the state government. But there are no offers from the state government to ameliorate the impact of the East West Link on public tenants.

[From Green Left Weekly, May 21, 2014]