Tent city to be dismantled - again

Martin Place tents (Facebook)

The NSW state government is planning to dismantle a homeless camp at Martin Place for a second time, and police threaten to throw anyone who resists "in the back of a truck", the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The long-standing camp of 44 tents, which house about 50 people in front of the Reserve Bank, was first dismantled by the City of Sydney council in June but many of its residents have returned.

Yesterday, as some of the residents were zipped into their tents to escape the cold, others gathered around a marquee, where volunteers cooked hot food and offered tea and coffee as part of a 24-hour kitchen.

It was hours after Social Housing Minister Pru Goward said about the camp: "We will move these people on. I don't care what it takes."

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told radio station 2GB the "problem" could be fixed "easily" if council workers were sent to confiscate equipment from the camp.

"If one person puts a step out of line, I'll throw them in the back of the truck," Commissioner Fuller said. "We will sort this on the back of whatever means we can. But next week they'll be somewhere else. This is a broader issue than Martin Place, it's about what do we do long-term with these people.

The government will meet with the City of Sydney and Commissioner Fuller today to discuss the camp's future.

Some of the camp's residents have been on the streets for a few months, while for others it's been decades.

Rewi Waetford, 33, who has lived on the streets for 4½ months, said before he became homeless he used to have a poor opinion of homeless people. "I used to think 'get a job'," he said. Similar taunts are now shouted at the camp by people who walk past.

One woman, who did not want her name used, told Fairfax Media she had been homeless for about 30 years. "No one wants to talk to us about a solution to being homeless, they just want to talk to us about what it's like," she said.


'They should be gone': Police, government plan to dismantle Martin Place camp (Sydney Morning Herald)


Martin Place tent city: Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward says it’s a mockery (Daily Telegraph)

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