West Australian authorities have dismantled Fremantle’s tent city but deep concerns remain about the long-term plan for dozens of homeless residents.
Police on Saturday cleared the Pioneer Park camp, pulling down the last remaining tents and collecting belongings.
Emergency accommodation has been offered to rough sleepers, including temporary hotel stays.
The move has been panned by advocates who say the Labor government has failed to address the crisis in any substantive way.
The dismantling came after the McGowan government took the extraordinary step of formally seizing control of the land upon which the camp was situated.
Treasurer and Lands Minister Ben Wyatt signed a revocation order under the Lands Administration Act removing the City of Fremantle as the management body for Pioneer Park.
Responsibility for the park has been granted to Heritage Minister David Templeman.
“The Fremantle council was moving too slowly so we stepped in,” a defiant Premier Mark McGowan told reporters.
“I think we did what we had to do. People have been moved out into forms of accommodation and forms of support, and that’s what we offered the whole way along.
“Unfortunately some of the organisers of that camp and members of the council were encouraging people to move in there … it was a shocking thing they were doing.”
The City of Fremantle, whose mayor Brad Pettitt is running for the Greens at the March election, has maintained it has never authorised people to camp in the park, a position it affirmed days ago in a formal motion.
Advocates insist the vast majority of the camp’s 100 rough sleepers had been genuinely homeless despite the government claiming otherwise.
“Panic-buying hotel rooms across Perth for highly vulnerable people clearly demonstrates the WA government has no emergency accommodation available, let alone housing,” House the Homeless WA spokesperson Betsy Buchanan said.
“One week in a hotel is not a solution to homelessness – only housing ends homelessness, and this government has none.”
Police this week linked the camp to a number of serious crimes in the broader area, including assaults and child sex offences.
Mr McGowan has accused “anarchists” of establishing the camp opposite the office of Communities Minister Simone McGurk as a political stunt ahead of the election.
The premier ramped up his increasingly heated rhetoric on Saturday, claiming that volunteers at the camp had had no intention of helping people.
“They just want to protest … it gives them a kick,” he said.
“They should hang their heads in shame that they did this.”
Advocates say 40 vulnerable people died on the streets of Perth last year.
About 15,000 people are on the public housing waitlist and more than 1000 are living on the streets, according to Shelter WA.