ABSTRACT – Global city discourses rearticulate the relationships between the state, urban space and the global economy. At the local level, global city reconfigurations stamp the mark of a global economic order onto local citizenship practices. Public housing is a legacy of specific national (welfare) states where citizenship rights arose from territorially bound constitutional discourses, and is incompatible in its current form with the consumer-based rights and responsibilities of a global economic order. At the same time, property markets in high-value areas of cities like Sydney, Australia, see not only increasing presence of international investment but fundamental changes in planning and governance processes in order to facilitate it. Global market-oriented discourses of urban governance promote consumer “performances of citizenship” and a graduated approach to the distribution of rights, including the right to housing. In this article we explore what is new about neoliberal approaches to public and social housing policy, and how public tenants respond to and negotiate it. In Australia tenants’ right to participate in local-level democracy, and in housing management, must be reconsidered in light of the broader discourses of consumer citizenship that are now enforced on tenants as a set of “responsibilities” to the market and state.