Bob Flood, 63, remembers the trucks up and down Kent Street, and the air full of soot.
He was a child. And what has become Sydney’s Barangaroo development site was a working port.
“No one wanted to live here then,” it was dirty and the wharfies worked 12-hour shifts. “It was a noisy bastard of a place.”
Now it is where James Packer, if all goes to plan with the New South Wales State Government, is going to build his new multi-billion dollar casino.
“What do they want another one for, there is one over the road there,” he says, pointing across the water to Echo Entertainment’s The Star.
“What are they going to be doing? Looking at each other, throwing hundred dollar bills. It’s not going to be for us people. It’s going to be for people from overseas,” he told Business Insider outside his housing commission terrace.
Flood thinks he’s going to lose his house. While the State Government didn’t actually tell him that, he said “It looks like we’re all going to be flung out”.
“I have been living here for three generations. My grandfather … he went to the first world war and was killed in France, never come home. My dad was living up the other end of this street — he went to the second world war, to the Middle East and New Guinea, protecting this place, so we’d be all safe.”
Housing commission residences are commonplace in The Rocks.
All of Kent Street is government-funded, Flood says, as well as a large portion of the surrounding area, with those “doing it tough” mixed in with Sydney’s well-to-do. And soon enough — if they don’t get the boot — they will all be a short walk from Packer’s high-rollers.
He doesn’t think much of the clientele of gambling operations.
“Ninety per cent of it is drug money anyway that’s going to go through the place. People don’t go running around losing three hundred thousand dollars a year just because they like doing it — it’s because they are getting big incomes from somewhere, and it’s all tax free.”
One of Flood’s neighbours, who has lived in Kent Street for 12 years, shares his concerns. And she also does not want a second casino in her city.
“We feel its a threat for us, another threat for us. They are trying to get rid of the housing commission around here, even though it’s all heritage,” she said.
There was always going to be a development of Barangaroo, regardless of Packer’s casino ambitions. But “it’s just another nail in the coffin.”
“We feel it’s a threat for us, another threat for us. They are trying to get rid of the housing commission around here, even though it’s all heritage.
“They are going to get rid of 200 houses in the CBD, not necessarily us.”
“There were a lot of people born here — not that it gives them any privilege — it does not give them a right to be here, but its very sad. Progress happens doesn’t it, but it’s homes you worry about.”
At the end of the street, with a view over the development site there’s a cafe. It’s owner does not care the outlook through her windows will change, though is not happy there will be a rival for Echo’s Star.
“I think its too much; it’s the second one.”
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