National Trust ‘verballed’

A senior local member of the National Trust has sent this report of the interactions of Parramatta National Trust with this consultation process.

The Parramatta branch of the National Trust is listed on Page 7 of the consultation report as a Targeted Stakeholder. At no time did the Parramatta Branch receive any information about giving feedback. We heard from community members that they had info via a letterbox drop about an online survey and a Webinar planned for April 7 2020.

Webinar 1 – 7 April. I sent through an email request to be made part of the session. I did not hear back from them and subsequently called. When I mentioned I was representing the Parramatta Branch they said they already had a one-on-one session organised with the Trust's Director of Conservation (head office) and they didn't need any further input from the Branch.

Webinar 2 - 23 April: I registered for this webinar as just a community member and did not specify I was from the Parramatta Branch of the Trust. When I spoke at the webinar, in summary I made three points –

Re Powerhouse Parramatta – Consultation Summary Report – May 2020 Revision 1 51, page 50: The consultation report listed inputs from the National Trust, Parramatta which are reproduced in italics. Our informant made the comments that are underlined, related to the Webinar of 23 April and any other interaction our informant was aware of.

·        Comment regarding movement of items (fragile and large) between locations, how these would be treated and how much space would be dedicated to permanent displays. I made no mention of that.

·        Comment regarding the relevance of the kitchen garden and accommodation to the new Powerhouse museum. I made no mention of that.

·        The incorporation of the Parramatta River as an important cultural landscape into the design of the new Powerhouse. I made no mention of that.

·        Comment regarding flooding and how the museum would be accessed in the event of unprecedented flooding. Yes I did talk about flooding and that the site was not suitable for the construction of a museum - didn't mention anything about access. I spoke about there being better sites in Parramatta to build and the North Parramatta Female Factory Precinct site is not flood prone and the presence of a museum on this site would create a world class attraction.

·        The importance of heritage (Aboriginal, Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace) and how it will be recorded within the development of the museum. Yes I did talk about the heritage on site and its need to be preserved - not interested in just recording it but to have the heritage retained

·        How will the permanent collection (including Bolton and Watt) be reflected in the new museum and the practicality of changing objects regularly. I made no mention of that.

·        Importance of understanding consumer demand and who is likely to visit the museum. I made no mention of that.

·        The reflection of local storytelling and how this would be incorporated into the exhibition development. I did talk about the need for Parramatta to have its own Museum that told the story of Parramatta as a special place to the foundation of (New South Wales) Australia. Also mentioned that as far back as 1899 there are newspaper articles documenting Parramatta's need for a heritage museum. I didn't ask about Parramatta storytelling (but someone did) and Lisa Havilah (CEO) said they had Parramatta Eels memorabilia and (I think) an old sign from a car yard on Auto Alley. (I could have bitten my own hand off when she said that!)

·        Comment regarding the entries to the museum (sic) and if these could be made available to public. Don't know what this means at all! (It is a point made by another questioner who was interested in seeing the other entries to the design competition - tl).

I also asked why were they calling these sessions “early engagement” when clearly they had already decided exactly what they would do without giving the community an opportunity for consultation over the last four years.