On Saturday March 5 a picket involving 30 protesters closed down Inner City Towing and Smash Repairs, a business owned by notorious slum lord Frank Cassar. The crowd heard speeches from those affected by Frank and his family’s thuggery and scams and joined in chants of “Put Cassar behind bars!” and “VCAT, VCAT why so slack, Make Frank pay our money back!”. The protest received coverage on various media outlets including ABC radio and a story was broadcast on Channel 7’s current affairs program Today Tonight (to view it visit the archive at au.todaytonight.yahoo.com)
Cassar, who owns owns rental properties and rooming houses around Fitzroy, Clifton Hill and Elsternwick, has ignored dozens of fines and orders imposed by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the Magistrate’s Court since 1999 for his flagrant violation of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. It is estimated that Cassar has racked up more than $60,000 in fines and other money owed to tenants for offences such as taking bonds and failing to lodge or return them, failing to provide condition reports and statements of rights and duties, and improperly obtaining possession of premises (that is, illegal evictions). He is alleged to have entered people’s houses without proper notification and demanded money from tenants when no money is owed. He has also been charged with failing to comply with the tribunal’s orders for him to repay bonds and unused rent to former tenants.
Although Cassar has so far eluded prosecution efforts by the Yarra council and others may finally be catching up to him. According to Yarra Councillor Steve Jolley council staff towed away 3 tow trucks and 2 unregistered sedans relating to the Fitzroy-based business owned by Frank Cassar on March 8th. Further to this, papers were lodged in VCAT with the assistance of Council lawyers and Cassar is due to face the Melbourne Magistrates Court on April 12th appealing $40,000 in fines.
Cassar advertises rooms and houses on Gumtree.com and a large proportion of the people affected by his actions are international students, travellers and people who struggle to get a proper lease. Tenants who have previously suffered at his hands organised the rally and have been posting messages to Gumtree warning others of his dodgy ways. They can be contacted at email@example.com or via www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_180844695283268
Another protest is planned to take place at Consumer Affairs Victoria. The date is yet to be decided.
Picket Australia’s Worst Landlord Frank Cassar
Saturday March 5, Noon onwards
Inner City Towing and Smash Repairs, 64 Kerr St, Fitzroy
Above: Today Tonight story from 2006
Frank Cassar has been accurately labeled Australia’s Worst Landlord. He steals tenants’ bonds, refuses to carry out repairs, enters homes without proper written notice, and demands money when none is owed. Despite numerous media stories on Cassar’s willingness to prey on international students, single mothers, travellers and low income earners, Cassar is still operating his rental properties, including those around the Fitzroy area. Dozens of VCAT Tribunal orders have been made, demanding that he pay tenants what he owes them, but Cassar believes he is above the law and the orders never get paid.
On Sat 5th March at 12pm, a picket will take place at his business, Inner City Towing and Smash Repairs, at 64 Kerr st, Fitzroy. This will demand he pay what he owes to tenants, highlight the failure of regulators to deal with such scammers and warn off those who might otherwise rent from him. This picket will be attended by various media outlets, which should mitigate any hesitation to attend the picket based on reports of Cassar’s violence and the violence of his thug sons and stand-over men. Please pass on the word, both about the picket and why this landlord must be avoided.
The fight against the demolition of Ballerrt Mooroop College’s gym and surrounding public spaces continues. Following a series of rallies and public events members of the Koori community and their supporters continue to occupy the school’s gym to prevent the destruction of key elements of Melbourne’s only Indigenous school. Currently work is being held off as the school community has applied for a protection order of the site’s cultural precinct under Aboriginal heritage laws. Please drop by the school, at 208 Hilton Street Glenroy, to show your support for the occupation or call 0415 683 202 or 0401414967 to get further information and receive regular updates.
Please support the occupation of Ballerrt Mooroop College. Visit the occupation at 208 Hilton Street, Glenroy and join a rally in support of the college, and in opposition to the NT Intervention, at an appearance by Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin at Readings Bookstore (309 Lygon St, Carlton) on Tuesday, 5.30pm, 30 November 2010. For more details on the threats to the college:
Media Release 16 November 2010 No 1
Protest Rally to Support the Ballerrt Mooroop College (BMC)
Again Pike’s Consultation, Communication and Equity Go Missing
A major series of protests and Rallies involving local residents and supporters of the Ballerrt Mooroop College is being held this Wednesday morning to protest the inequities in the building of a new school on the existing BMC school site at Hilton Street Glenroy. The Broadmeadows Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (BLAECG) and Traditional Owners have called on the community and supporters to rally for the school and to register their protest at what is becoming an inequitable funding and space arrangement.
Wurundjeri Elder Margaret Gardiner said that “the Ballerrt Mooroop College has been on the site since 1996 and the College Council has not consented to the development of a new $18m school on the same land for the Glenroy Specialist School (GSS). The DEECD has denied the community due process in this whole affair and the Minister is receiving poor Aboriginal education advice to the detriment of our students and community. The DEECD intent is to assimilate our school into some mainstream melting pot that will not lead to real improvement in our students educational aspirations. The Premier and Prime Minister are not investing in our School as they are in others Ms Gardiner stated.
Builders are moving in to destroy the BMC’s gymnasium to make way for 170 bus and car parking spaces. Parking space seems to be more important than the health and fitness of Indigenous students. This is not the way to educationally and culturally engage the Aboriginal community in closing the gap or Aboriginal education strategies aimed at providing our students with quality education services she said. The government has failed to deliver funding equity and progress in the development of the BMC’s student numbers, facilities or aspirations.”
A spokesperson for the BLAECG Mr Gary Murray said that; “we call on the government educational bureaucrats to redesign the Glenroy Specialist School plan. Alternatively, the GSS development should be relocated to the soon to be vacated Glenroy primary school site. Mr Murray said that the College needs to be developed to its fullest educational and cultural potential as it is the only Aboriginal school in Melbourne. We seem to be getting squeezed out by bureaucratic stealth and irrelevant registration from our culturally and historically significant school site, amazingly in the Premier’s own electoral area, regeneration has now become denigration and another Northland’s battle is looming Mr Murray said.”
Our community is fed up with the arrogance, bullying, disrespect, discrimination and lack of real equity in the departmental processes to impose another school on our site when there are other school sites at Glenroy primary school for the GSS project. Our College is getting squeezed out, our main community hall and school gym is being demolished to make way for GSS bus and car parks. There will be around 16-22 bus parking spaces. The community also loses the Park as well for car parking and buildings. The fauna are impacted on as trees will be cut down. The peaceful environment changed to everyone’s detriment. It is time the whole Community took action.
The GSS project has $18m in grants to develop, the BMC school has a paltry $750,000 to grow the school which is poor economic modeling and peanuts at a stampeding educational elephant.
WHY IS GSS IMPOSED ON OUR SITE WHEN THE GLENROY PRIMARY SCHOOL IS AVAILABLE OR OTHER SITES? THERE IS NO FREE, PRIOR AND INFORMED CONSENT HERE OR EQUITY!
Mr Murray said that the BMC is the only Aboriginal School in greater Melbourne, so why is it being treated different to other school projects around the Premier’s electorate! This school should be allowed to grow and expand in terms of students and facilities, it should be an educational and cultural showpiece with state of the art education facilities and programs. What is going on here!
Broadmeadows Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Spokesperson Gary Murray and Wurundjeri Elder Margaret Gardiner Mobile 0415 683 202
On Friday November 12th the “No More Band-Aid Solutions: End The Housing Crisis” rally closed down Victorian Housing Minister Richard Wynne’s electoral office in Collingwood. Despite sweltering heat and a looming rainstorm 80 to 100 people joined the protest playing drums and percussion, setting up tents and a clothesline and plastering Wynne’s office windows with band-aids and squatting stickers. Organised by the City Is Ours the rally called for immediate and genuine action against homelessness and housing stress and an end to the Victorian government’s support for profiteering developers and landlords.
Yarra Councillor and Socialist Party candidate for Richmond Steven Jolly outlined the dire state of public housing and called for a mass campaign to end the housing crisis. Indigenous activist Sharon Firebrace spoke about the lack of government action regarding housing for Indigenous Australians as well as how the rising cost of living has resulted from the increased corporatisation of essential services and accomodation.
Annie Nash from Flat Out, an organisation which supports women exiting prison, and Andy, who is a support worker assisting homeless and injecting drug users, both explained how affordable and adequate housing is central to solving the problems that these communities face. Richard Tate, from the Homeless Front, spoke about how successive Liberal and Australian Labor Party led governments had created homelessness through the privatisation of public housing. In between the speeches the crowd joined in chants such as “1234- Show the ALP the door, 5678- Dick has passed his use-by date”, “Drum Wynne Out!” and “Stamp Duty Sux! Public Housing- Spend More Bucks!”
Little Hotel de Ville, from Community Radio 3CR’s Roominations program, entertained the crowd with acoustic tunes and bush poet Henry Lawson made a comeback from the grave to perform his revolutionary indictment of poverty and homelessness “Faces In The Street.” 100s of leaflets (see text below), as well as watermelon and other delectables, were handed out to the crowd and passers-by.
No More Band-aid Measures: Fix The Housing Crisis
People from all walks of life are affected by the housing crisis. Sole parent families, youth, indigenous people, migrants, people exiting prison, and pensioners are some of the hardest hit, but 100 000s of Victorians are also struggling due to rental and mortgage stress. Now that it’s election time the Victorian ALP is desperate to convince voters that they believe in social justice and care about those suffering under the rising cost of living. However Housing Minister Dick Wynne and the rest of the government must be judged on their record, not on their rhetoric and empty promises.
Over the past eleven years the Victorian ALP has:
- Sat back while rental and house prices have rocketed, pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars in stamp duty in the process.
- Failed to invest increased tax revenues into public housing, allowing the waiting list to blow to out to more than 41 000 while existing infrastructure literally crumbles.
- Allowed the housing shortage to grow to the point where 58 000 people, many of them families with children, were forced to access over-stretched homeless services in Melbourne during 2008-09.
- Continued Jeff Kennett’s privatization of public housing and services via “public-private” partnerships that allow private developers to make huge profits while the public bears the risk and carries much of the costs.
- Failed to restore the rental rights abolished by the Kennett government, allowing landlords to ramp up rents at will whilst avoiding their responsibilities concerning the upkeep and repair of properties.
- Sold off large tracts of outer suburban land cheaply and then allowed developers to leave much of it unused in order to prop up record house prices.
- Ignored the 1000s of beds lost through rooming house closures and then talked up the opening of one new facility.
- Set up a toothless Rooming House Taskforce which rarely prosecutes rogue operators and does not require limits on rents, or government acquisition of rooming houses that close.
- Failed to tackle the speculators who are leaving 1000s of properties empty across Melbourne.
The problems that the ALP, and the Liberals before them, have created can be solved through:
- Greatly expanded investment in public housing
- Legislation to limit rent increases
- An end to illegal evictions
- An improvement in standards for rooming houses and the prosecution of rogue operators
- Increased funding for housing cooperatives
- Support for green housing
- An end to the privatization and corporatisation of housing.
When you vote in this election please consider which candidates will take real action against the housing crisis and which ones will continue to pour public wealth into the pockets of property developers and private corporations.
Voting alone will not solve the crisis. The City Is Ours is one of a number of community groups taking action around the housing crisis. We work with homeless people, rooming house residents, public housing tenants, struggling renters and other organisations to collectively take action and seek real change on the issues we face. Visit our website at www.melbournecio.org or join us at our next meeting at Community Radio 3CR (21 Smith St, Fitzroy) on Saturday November 27 at 1pm.
The City Is ours is holding a series of meetings in the suburbs to bring together those affected by the Housing Crisis in order to discuss their experiences and what can be done to solve issues such as homelessness, rising rents, rooming house closures and the privitisation of housing. Both meetings will feature Les Twentyman OAM from the 20th Man Fund plus other speakers. Join us at the following:
St Albans Meeting
7pm Tuesday 26th October
Grantham Green Community Centre
Grantham Pde, St Albans
Melway 26 F3
6pm Wednesday November 3rd
Hume Global Learning Centre
1093 Pascoe Vale Road
NO MORE BAND-AID SOLUTIONS. END THE HOUSING CRISIS!
6:30pm Thursday 14th October
Corner of Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton
LES TWENTYMAN, OAM from the 20th MAN FUND
STEPHANIE MENDIS from the HOTHAM MISSION ASYLUM SEEKERS PROJECT
A representative from the COUNCIL OF SINGLE MOTHERS AND THEIR CHILDREN
Screening of THEIR VOICES, a documentary about homelessness
All speakers will discuss how the housing crisis is hurting Victorians, outline the solutions that are urgently required and take questions from the audience. Housing Minister Richard Wynne has been invited, but has stated he will be unavailable.
Join us for the End The Housing Crisis Rally at Housing Minister Richard Wynne’s electoral office at 112 Smith St, Collingwood from 4.30pm on Friday November 12th to demand:
• Greatly expanded investment in public housing
• Legislation to limit rent increases
• An end to illegal evictions
• An improvement in standards for rooming houses & the prosecution of rogue operators
• Increased funding for housing cooperatives
• Support for green housing
• More research into sustainable infrastructure improvement and alternative living options (such as housing cooperatives)
• An end to privatisation and the corporate control of housing
Presented by City Is Ours
Events endorsed by Community Radio 3CR, Communications Workers Union Victoria, Friends of the Earth, Green Renters, Earthsharing, Socialist Party, Homeless Front, Socialist Alliance, 20th Man Fund, Freedom Socialist Party, Food Not Bombs, Fitzroy Legal Service, Revolutionar Socialist Part. Unitarian Church.