Quentin Bryce Law Doctoral Scholarship

The tent city should be dismantled. Only one group should be able to use Sydney’s public spaces: irritating brands

Why help a group of vulnerable people when brands could be selling people their products instead?

Martin Place's tent city Martin Place's tent city

Over the last several months there has been a group blatantly misusing Sydney’s famous plaza, Martin Place. They are supposedly ‘homeless’ (if they are without a home why don’t they just go back to their homes? Perhaps this is a bigger question for another article.)

Tangents aside, the cost to everyday individuals like myself is enormous: for example, I must walk slightly longer on my daily commute around this encampment (a distance I calculated to be twenty whole meters). But more importantly, the tent city displaces the existence of a group far more important to society: brands.

Regardless of one’s political beliefs, there is one thing upon which we can all agree: it is far more important to have brand building operations of giant, multinational corporations than to provide a temporary liveable space to society’s most vulnerable people.

Take Uber, a humble ridesharing company based in San Francisco, California. Until recently this benevolent giant gracefully paid brand representatives to stand and hand out “ten dollars off your first ride” vouchers to finance workers on their lunch break. Now? These friendly folks are nowhere to be seen.

Where is Uber’s justice? Where is the justice for British backpackers who earn extra drinking money by working for marketing companies to sell passers by charity subscriptions? Where is the justice for brands like TAB, who uses Martin Place to sell gambling to members of the public on Melbourne Cup day? When will we take their needs into consideration?

Moreover, the tents themselves are an eyesore. Why can’t there be something more beautiful in our public spaces — like a stand that sells bluetooth connected crocs or a food truck that sells burrito bowls for $45 dollars each?

One thing is clear: nothing could be worse for public interest than a group of people simply trying to survive and mind their own business.

Student services counters have been closed all across campus. Art: Rebekah Wright.

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