West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has doubled-down on comments he made regarding Fremantle’s ‘tent city’ being established by “anarchists”.
Earlier this week, the premier accused activists of establishing the camp over the Christmas period as a political stunt ahead of the March election.
“I’m amazed at how much that’s grown over the past few weeks,” Fred Botica remarked to the premier on Wednesday morning.
“One of the things I always believed all my life was being understanding and compassionate towards people in need and people undergoing hardship and doing the right thing to try and help get people get back on their feet,” Mr McGowan said.
“Professional agitators are doing this, and they’re encouraging people who are already in services – some already had places to go – to go down there and camp as part of some kind of protest movement.”
About 100 people are sleeping in tents at Pioneer Park, located opposite the office of Communities Minister Simone McGurk.
It’s understood the ‘stunt’ is meant to draw attention to the issue of homelessness, something the premier is, according to Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup, seeking to deflect.
Mr McGowan said there are services, including beds, available.
“Yet these people are encouraging vulnerable people, who they are exploiting, to go and stay at that park… Extinction Rebellion are running the show down there.”
The premier urged those who are in need to take advantage of the services available.
About 15,000 people are on the social housing waitlist and more than 1000 people are living on the streets, according to Shelter WA.
Meanwhile, WA’s rental vacancies have hit record lows amid a moratorium on evictions and rent increases.
Mr McGowan previously said his government was investing “more than ever before” into new social housing and homelessness services.
On Tuesday, the Liberals announced they would deliver 100 interim accommodation beds in Fremantle within six months of being elected.
Mr Kirkup is expected to announce a major social housing commitment later in January.
– with AAP