Barangaroo, a site with multiple histories, is now a focal point of gentrification, sustainability and inequality. The new development is armed by one of the most prominent contemporary drivers of globalisation – the international financial sector.
Behind the façade of economic growth, just metres away from the multinational corporate offices, there are uncomfortable changes that reflect the inequitable, and destructive side of globalisation. The foreshore development achieves many sustainable infrastructure goals while the contrasting inequality of the Miller’s Point community, and their displacement, is proof that current ‘urban sustainability’ projects are paradoxically guided by economic globalisation. The narrative surrounding the expulsion of housing tenants (often with intergenerational links to place) speaks in terms of renewal and profit; however essentially it is a question of who deserves to enjoy the harbour side amenities (Darcy & Rodgers, 2015 pp. 53-54); dole bludgers or financial technocrats powering the local (and global) economy.
Inequality is no new theme for the site of Barangaroo, or any global city, however it is here that new forms of inequality come into existence (Sassen, 2000 p. 85). Processes of valorisation and de-valorisation are strongly present in Barangaroo. As a global city with an advanced economy, the “techne” finance work performed in the high-rises in Sydney, containing the likes of PwC or KPMG, is valorized, to a point where all other non-specialised or ‘expert’ service work is subordinate (Sassen, 2000 p. 82). The history of working class struggles experienced along ‘the Hungry Mile’ may be commemorated in historical appreciation, but it certainly cannot stay spatially intertwined with modern Barangaroo, which needs to accommodate for the hypermobility of the top globalised sectors (Sassen, 2000 p. 79-80).
Indigenous participation in Barangaroo, ranging from the indigenous employment programs and the community consultation processes, recognises aboriginal history. Including a stakeholder group in the development process is inclusive but also a neutralisation tactic. Effectively, it removes any acute political conflicts, inhibiting any strong movements of resistance. In this sense, gentrification has significantly changed the local political playing field (Checker, 2011 pp. 221-225).