Sunday, August 31, 2008

No progress months after rushed Roberts St demo

Back on 1 April 2008, I received an email from a director at the Office of Housing regarding my asbestos concerns in the demolition of the 47-unit derelict public housing estate at Roberts Street, Northcote. Given WorkSafe approval, he said, 'there is no need to further delay the work as the sooner we start the sooner tenants can be housed and I am sure you would support this.'

Indeed I very much support the timely housing of public tenants, but given that five months later the site is still lying vacant - the demolition having been completed in April - the community is entitled to ask just what was the rush to demolish the contaminated estate given valid residents' concerns about the management of asbestos in the process?

Readers of this blog will recall that just days before asbestos removal started on a day of extreme winds in Melbourne (Wednesday 2 April), the Office of Housing and Northcote MP, Fiona Richardson, were pressured to hold the only public meeting on the issue in the face of a raft of unanswered questions that were to remain inadequately addressed when the works started.

With the land now lying vacant for months despite a 40,000-strong public housing waiting list, it seems the real rush was to kill the asbestos issue. Gone from Housing's redevelopment site is the asbestos audit, and indeed any mention of asbestos on the site. They're pretty good at cleaning up public interest information. It's almost as if the issue never existed, but you can still read all about it here.

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Comments are most welcome on any of the posts at Northcote Independent. I encourage feedback - positive or negative. Feel free to disagree, but remember that posts are moderated to ensure they are on the topic and in the spirit of open debate, as outlined in my editorial policy.