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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Forget about trivago

Lanz Priestley and his pregnant partner Nina Wilson in Martin Place.
It's his twelfth child, presumably not all by the same partner


While trivago's website promises "Never pay full price on hotels", Lanz Priestley promises that you will never pay anything for your four-star hotel room in Sydney's CBD.

And he should know! He set up squats in cities around the world, including London and Brazil, before he pitched up in Martin Place in December, attracting more than 65 people, at times more than a hundred a night, to the shelter within weeks.

Martin Place, heart of Sydney's - ehem! - financial district

Dubbed the Mayor of Martin Place, Lanz, who's originally from New Zealand, succeeded in having the hundred-odd members (or should that be without the hyphen?) of the now dismantled Martin Place camp accommodated in the four-star $174-per-night Ibis hotel overlooking Darling Harbour, as well as in other hotels, hostels and motels in the city, all courtesy of the long-suffering Australian taxpayer.

When word spread weeks ago that the homeless were being moved into hotels, homeless people from Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane hitched rides to queue along Martin Place to secure rooms.

"There were more than 300 people queueing to get hotels", camper Salvatore Migenta, 64, said. "Martin Place was packed from Phillip Street to Macquarie Street. The hotels were booked and people were staying in expensive ones and now they are putting people up in cheaper ones. It was crazy."

Let them eat cake and stay at the Ibis Darling Harbour
A before-picture of a room at the Ibis Hotel Darling Harbour

Says Adam Armstrong, 38, who has been sleeping rough for seven years, "I’ve got a roof over my head at the Ibis. I’ve got a TV and my phone. I’m not too lonely, but it would nice to have a lady in there for company". Naturally, Adam feels a bit lonely after having shared the same cardboard box in Martin Place with several others. While those uncaring authorities gave him his own room as doubling up would have been against his human rights, they should at least have laid on a free hooker. He might as well drink the mini-bar dry and dial up room service for Lobster Thermidor before complaining to his local member.

Another camper, Ricky Mates, was told on Saturday he could check into the Ibis Darling Harbour. "The fridge is mini, but the shower is nice and I can see out onto the Harbour, it’s beautiful", he said as he slipped on his thongs to take the lift down to the à la carte restaurant for dinner.

I'm still trying to get hold of Lanz's mobile phone number to arrange accommodation for my next Sydney visit. Who knows, by then he may already have his own website. Hotel? Lanz Priestley!


P.S. How the world has changed! In the old days, the authorities would have dealt with vagrancy by offering free accommodation in the local lock-up. And those who couldn't afford the rent would share a house. No one ever thought of dumping themselves on the rest of society. And here's the real kicker: those 'homeless' no doubt collect all possible welfare benefits; if three or four would pool that easy money, they'd have as much to spend on rent, food, and clothing as the average family. Of course, they couldn't afford to live in the CBD but neither can I. What's wrong with supporting rural and regional Australia and taking them to a quiet motel in the country where the grass is green and the damages they inflict on the place are a lot cheaper to repair?