South Sydney & Waterloo

During May 1972, the Housing Commission put a freeze on 32 acres of land in Waterloo. They had grand plans which involved the construction of six high-rise towers and vast stretches of open space. Many residents were from migrant families or had homes in the area for generations and few of them could afford to buy alternative dwelling in an inner-city area even if the Housing Commission bought them out.  At the request of residents, who had no desire to vacate their homes, the BLF placed a green ban on the area.

Residents prepared their own community plan suggesting several alternatives. Firstly, that the Housing Commission shift their focus to less population-dense areas outside South Sydney. Such as the Rocks and Woolloomooloo where there is already government-owned land to be considered. They also advocated for a change in Housing Commission policies to centre on rehabilitation, renovation and infill housing. Finally, it was suggested that the Housing Commission amend its structure in order to be responsive to and carry out the decisions of residents.

A green ban was placed on another vacant lot in Waterloo where the Housing Commission planned to build two thirty-storey unit blocks. Construction was stopped by the union in 1973 though it recommenced after a meeting of pensioners voted in favour of the flats. The Waterloo residents' decades-long struggle against the Housing Commission and their battle to maintain low cost living was documented in Tom Zubrycki's 1984 film, Waterloo. 

Lee Rhiannon and NSW Greens Party, Green bans: inspirational activism, 2016; Anne Summers (et al.), The little green book: the facts on green bans, 1973; Tom Zubrycki, Waterloo, 1984.

Research provided by Isabella Maher

SMH Article, Residents seek union black ban. 05.03.1973
SMH Article, Waterloo Not like Eastlakes. 19.02.1973


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