Patricia Phillips came to The Rocks [adjacent to Millers Point] in 1970 after working in nursing, publishing, and other fields in Melbourne. In her interview she talks about managing the then new Argyle Arts Centre in the Rocks; the Argyle celebrations; local identities; pub crawls; her sandwich shop; tourism; Green Bans; leaving the area to take care of a family; the local community; and being a landlady in Millers Point. In the excerpt below she discusses the ‘Battle of the Landladies’ (which occurred after the transition of authority from the Maritime Services Board to the Department of Housing) in which the landladies fought to protect their longstanding arrangements for subletting accommodation in large dwellings.
This interview is part of Housing NSW’s 2005 Millers Point Oral History Project. The City of Sydney acknowledges the State Library of New South Wales as the archival custodian of the project and digital preserver of the masters.
It was very difficult to get any story on us because people perceived as us being greedy, living on public land and making lots of money, and not looking after the houses you see, it was all the wrong way around a bit. There were some, we admit quite honestly, that were not up to scratch, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that they can be brought up to scratch all right, so we persisted in our court case.
We had to do an enormous amount with the Ombudsman, everybody, they were finally the ones. We had two barristers and a solicitor, we had to. Finally after all that length of time we won every court case because they weren’t prepared, the Department [of Housing] they just used to think they would win but they didn’t. We got a twenty year lease divided into ten years by ten years. We were so tired of it all by that time, we shouldn’t have accepted that, we should have said twenty years without any interruption, we were so tired and so sick of fighting we accepted that and that was fair enough, I guess.
At the end of ten years they come in and evaluate again and up goes your rent, they work steadily at pushing you out. The rents didn’t go up immediately but slowly over a period of time they kept going up a little bit. At the end of ten years they came again, and of course the valuation was made much higher.