Inquiry into the Government's management of the Powerhouse Museum and other museums and cultural projects in New South Wales

Submission from Tom Lockley

This submission addresses specifically Terms of Reference 1 (b) (iii) whether comprehensive consultation with communities and experts has informed cultural policy and projects across New South Wales, such as that applying to heritage arms and armour collections.

#5 Consultation shortcomings

The Government’s aim of improving the cultural facilities in Parramatta, the approximate population centre of Sydney, is universally applauded.

This submission examines the ‘consultation’ processes involved in the ‘move’ of the Powerhouse Museum.

More than five years of research by email group members have found no evidence of consultation into the basic idea of ‘moving’ the Powerhouse from Ultimo to Parramatta.

Infrastructure NSW did recommend urgent consideration of the idea, but there are no recorded meetings where alternatives were discussed prior to Mr Baird’s announcement. There is no indication why this project was chosen above any other alternative.

We have been assured on several occasions that no land deal has been done, so we assume that there has been no collusion with developers.

There are strong indications that Mr Baird and Ms Macgregor did confer before Mr Baird’s announcement. Some details possible timing of informal meetings are to hand but these are not reliable so are not included in this submission. We concede that some joint conferences were held between Ms Macgregor and Mr Baird, and that is the total of all prior investigation into alternatives that has been found[i].

The Government did not consult with any major stakeholder before announcing the ‘move’ on November 26 2104. Even the Trustees of the museum[ii] and the Parramatta Council[iii] read about it in the newspapers.

Summary of this submission:

This submission examines:

1.    Research, support and consultation claimed by Mr Baird

Mr Baird: Could not name one organisation supporting the ‘move’. See below.

2.    Research, support and consultation claimed by Ms Macgregor

Ms Macgregor: consultation only with the Western Sydney Arts and Cultural Lobby, now non-existent.

3.    Consultation before the advent of Mr Harwin

Virtually none, and that was biased.

4.    Consultation done under Mr Harwin’s ministerial tenure

No attempt to deal with basic issues, deliberate obfuscation and leading questions

5.    ‘Consultation’ carried out by the Parramatta Council under Government-appointed Administrator

This was not a major effort, and was clearly predicated on the inevitability of the ‘move’.

6.    A bias towards business?

7.    The new round of consultation -2020

The tradition of downgrading the basic issues continues!

And a contrast – samples of unprompted expression of popular opinion.

***********************************

1.    Research, support and consultation claimed by Mr Baird

From the Inquiry evidence, 28 May 2018, page 35:

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: Which cultural groups that you met with supported the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum? You were telling us about your consultation. Tell us about the cultural groups that you consulted with that supported the relocation?

(short passage omitted)

Mr BAIRD: I am not going to go through every person or group that I met.

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: Not every one; I just want one. Tell me the cultural group you met with in Parramatta that said it supports this?

Mr BAIRD: I can get those details for you.

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: You are sitting there and telling us about your consultation but you cannot think of a single resident group or a single cultural group that supported it?

The Hon. SCOTT FARLOW: It was three years ago.

The Hon. TREVOR KHAN: He has taken it on notice.

On 22 June Mr Baird responded as follows:

I no longer have access to my full diary from the period in question, but know that in my time as Premier I made over 100 visits to Western Sydney where I had the privilege of meeting with many people and groups. All were appreciative of our record investment in Western Sydney more broadly, including the cultural groups.

We accept this as an accurate reply, but the truth is that, with the possible exception of the Western Sydney Arts & Cultural Lobby, who had then not had a meeting for at least a year, no art or cultural group specifically supported the museum ‘move’ in preference to other options. We agree with Mr Baird’s later statement in his short reply, Western Sydney deserves its own world-class cultural institution and one the community can proudly call its own. The Powerhouse move does not deliver this.

2.    Research, support and consultation claimed by Ms Macgregor

The only record of consultation prior to the announcement came from the Inquiry testimony of Ms Macgregor, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art and designated ‘cultural ambassador to the west’ during 2014. Because this consultation forms a major influence in her initial support for the ‘move’ it is analysed in depth.

In her corrected inquiry evidence she stated: I was very pleased to discover initially that the arts in Western Sydney had come together. It can be rare in the arts that people come together and lobby for one cause rather than everybody asking for their own bit of the pie. So I met regularly with one group—the Western Sydney lobby group[iv]. We assume she meant the Western Sydney Arts & Cultural Lobby.

The inference from her evidence is that the group recommended, or at least strongly supported, the museum ‘move’.

There are two aspects of all this that must be elucidated: who is this group, and what did they say?

The Western Sydney Arts & Cultural Lobby[v] included Artists, Arts Workers, Bankstown Arts Centre, Bankstown Youth Development Service, Blacktown Arts Centre, Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Cultural Arts Collective, Curiousworks, FORM Dance Projects, Information and Cultural Exchange, Parramatta Artists Studios, Parramatta Riverside Theatres, Peacock Gallery and Auburn Arts Studio, Penrith Performing & Visual Arts, Powerhouse Youth Theatre, Westwords, Writing & Society – UWS, University of Western Sydney and Urban Theatre Project. In this submission it stated that not all views expressed may necessarily be those of all members of the lobby.

The lobby has never had a website and does not have an ABN. The most significant member groups are closely associated with the University of Western Sydney, and the major media releases by the WSA&CL were made by Medianet, the same organisation used by UWS. These were:

1.    Nov 25, 2014 - WESTERN SYDNEY ARTS AND CULTURE LOBBY WELCOMES GOVERNMENT FUNDING INITIATIVES FOR THE WEST, (the day before the Premier announced the Powerhouse ‘move’).

2.    Dec 16, 2014: The Western Sydney Arts and Cultural Lobby has welcomed the release of the NSW Government’s long awaited metropolitan strategy ‘A Plan for Growing Sydney’. This includes (page 91, our underlining) the statement that the possible relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta may create further opportunities for enhanced arts and cultural facilities’ but the Premier, over three weeks before, had already announced that the ‘move’ would take place. The timing of this release, almost at the same time as the Government document, suggests that it may be part of a collusive strategy designed to demonstrate public support for Government projects, with the support of the University of Western Sydney.

3.    Feb 26, 2015 - The Western Sydney Arts and Cultural Lobby today endorsed all recommendations contained in a ground-breaking new study commissioned by Deloitte … (this report has been shown to be thoroughly incompetent, see our submission #1, Introduction, page 2, point 2. As to timing of this release, similar comments apply as with the previous paragraph).

4.    Apr 6, 2017:Media Alert It's Time: The NSW Government must look West when funding cultural Infrastructure. The main point is the imbalance of funding and there is also again support for the Powerhouse ‘move’. This was the latest statement from WSA&CL that we can find.

On February 26, 2015[vi]David Capra, as spokesperson for the WSA&CL, is also reported as calling for the Australian Film, Television & Radio School and National Arts School to be relocated to Parramatta. This is a clear recommendation from WSA&CL.

However in their submission to the first Inquiry (12 August 2016) they only support the move of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta (they do not recommend it). Even this support is conditional: the State Government must ensure that the Powerhouse Museum is funded to a standard of its international peers and is of a higher standard than the facility at Ultimo. A key point, also consistently made, was that the commitments to the ‘move’ project must not involve the reduction of funding for the operations, artistic and capital programs of cultural organisations in Western Sydney[vii].

So, who is this group? As mentioned previously they have no ABN, no website, and since early 2018 seem to have disappeared. In February 2019 we phoned all institutional members for whom we could find phone numbers, seeking contact details and / or information of meeting times and places. We contacted, by phone, email and letter, the Museum of Contemporary Art, asking Ms Macgregor and her office people if they had contact details. We also phoned the Sydney Business Chamber (whose offices also serve the Western Sydney Business Chamber) and sent an email through the website contact form seeking any information they had. No-one provided any information.

This is the only group that we can find who may have been consulted on alternatives at the outset of the ‘move’ idea and we submit that the facts as stated raise various questions about the motivation, independence and research processes of the group. We make no judgement on these matters but compare this group to the North Parramatta Residents Action Group (discussed on page 12 and in other submissions) which has been functioning vigorously since well before the museum ‘move’ was announced, has conducted many successful events and is still flourishing, with contact details readily available. NPRAG has consistently opposed the ‘move’ of PHM, seeking community involvement in heritage preservation in Parramatta and the use of the Female Factory as a cultural campus. The addition of a relevant Parramatta museum to this area could make the basis of a world class cultural centre,

Incidentally we have on several occasions tried to contact Ms Macgregor, former ‘cultural ambassador for the West’, to ask her if she still supported the ‘move’. These included a registered letter delivered on 16 August 2018 but have had no reply.

3.    Consultation before the advent of Mr Harwin

There was almost no consultation with the public.

The first indication of any attempt at consultation that we are aware of occurred on the evening of 14 November 2016 when a firm called 'Instinct And Reason', 420 Elizabeth Street Surry Hills, conducted a focus group research activity into the ‘move’ to Parramatta. The participants were told that the museum was moving to Parramatta and then asked what they would like to see at that site. This set the pattern for future so-called consultation that continues to this day.

This firm is mentioned in Stakeholder Engagement, part of the Business Case, page number not available, ‘Meeting with Mr Parry and others at PHM 14/10/2016’.

4.    Consultation done under Mr Harwin’s ministerial tenure

The appointment of Mr Harwin as Minister was soon followed by announcements that there would be consultation, initially restricted to asking what features the public wished to see in the Powerhouse Museum at Parramatta. The many people opposing the ‘move’ were heartened on 19 April, 2017[viii] when Mr Harwin announced that the process would be extended to ‘consider other options’, and the New MAAS museum website was set up, ostensibly to facilitate communication and consultation and many questions were addressed to this website seeking information on such matters as the issues raised in our submission #2, ‘Fact sheet’. No relevant responses were ever received.

On 24 July at Parramatta and on 27 July at Ultimo rehearsals for the ‘consultation’ meetings were held[ix]. We are informed that the facilitators at each table were briefed on techniques for handling the discussion: allow negative comment on the ‘move’ and ignore it in their report.

The meetings themselves were held on 25 July (Parramatta) and 30 July (Powerhouse Museum). Chairperson / MC was Mr Brian Elton of Elton Consulting. Elton Consulting had been hired to demonstrate the benefits of the project[x].

After an introductory session outlining the ‘move’ and proclaiming its virtues, participants at each table were presented with two questions – what features were wanted at the new Parramatta museum, and what could participants suggest for the remaining cultural institution at Ultimo. Our information indicates that at every table people expressed dissent about the whole ‘move’ idea but these sentiments were ignored in the published summary, which purely dealt with answers to their stimulus questions. SMH writer Linda Morris published a good account of the Parramatta meeting[xi]. At Ultimo, former trustee and benefactor Trevor Kennedy tried to speak about the larger picture but this was rejected by Mr Elton.

Elton Consulting’s report stated that they had 1153 respondents to a questionnaire (not made public), reached 545 people at ‘pop up’ displays at shopping centres, received 16 written submissions, reached 272,515 people by Facebook posts and had 177 people at the two major stakeholder meetings[xii]. We have sought more information on the written submissions and the Facebook figures with no success. Unlike the Save the Powerhouse Facebook site, which is going from strength to strength, we cannot find the site referred to by Elton.

In summary, during the time that Mr Harwin was Minister for the Arts there was some pretense at consultation but it was all predicated on the inevitability of the ‘move’ idea. The Government has typically exaggerated the amount of support that the ‘move’ idea has and downplayed the massive resistance to the ‘move’.

5.    Parramatta Council

No public consultation about the Powerhouse Museum ‘move’ was carried out by the Council or its administrator before November 2016[xiii]. Over a period of about five months, early in 2017, under the non-elected administrator, some work was done to demonstrate support for the ‘move’. It included focus groups, surveys, submissions and also about 100 interviews. The survey of March 2017 engaged 528 residents[xiv]. ‘The focus groups that were held in February and March 2017 included 58 people. We received 55 submissions in relation to the draft cultural plan[xv]’. Also, 65 people attended ‘wide ranging discussions about the cultural priorities’.

Though the leading questions were less blatant than those of the Government ‘consultations’ there was a clear bias towards support of the ‘move’. It was always presented as part of a general program of positive action. We do not know the full details of these activities, but our opinion is that they were an attempt to garner, and demonstrate, support for the ‘move’, not to examine its ramifications.

On March 5 2017 the Parramatta City Council Manager was quoted as saying that the Council was enthusiastic about the process. As the matter had not been mentioned in council minutes, we asked him to justify this assertion and no reply was received. Our information is that the council is deeply divided, with a large majority against the ‘move’, but it has been decided not to openly reject the museum and an uneasy truce prevails.

The council strongly supports the retention of the heritage buildings on the museum site (resolution 6 July 2019).

Another case of exaggeration of support by the Government:

In evidence to the Inquiry on Wednesday, 12 September 2018 [xvi]the Arts Minister gave one of the very few indications that the ‘move’ had wide support. My underlining:

The Hon. DON HARWIN: What is absolutely clear is that despite what is being said by some, the vast majority of those working in arts and culture in this State think we are doing the right thing too. Let me just name a few. For example, I could name Robert Love, the General Manager of the Riverside Theatre, who thinks we are doing the right thing; or I could name Craig Donarski, the head of the Powerhouse Arts Centre in Casula, who thinks we are doing the right thing; or Michael D'Agostino, the head of the Campbelltown Art Gallery, who believes we are doing the right thing; or the Manager of Arts and Culture with responsibility for the Penrith Regional Art Gallery and the Lewers bequest and the Joan (sic), she thinks we are doing the right thing; and Jenny Bisset, the head of Arts and Culture in Blacktown, she thinks we are doing the right thing; or Rosie Dennis, the head of Urban Theatre Projects, who thinks we are doing the right thing; or Joanne Kee, the head of the National Theatre of Parramatta, who thinks we are doing the right thing. They are all just the Western Sydney people. There are plenty of people beyond that who are excited about what we are doing. They think finally there is a government that gets cultural equity in this State and is doing something about it and they want us to keep going.

None of these spontaneously supported the cause by making Inquiry submissions or in other ways. The overwhelming majority of submissions from a who’s who of artistic and museum experts and organisations and strongly opposed the ‘move’ idea. This is dealt with elsewhere.

We contacted by email, mail and phone, each person named and asked them to confirm their support for the Powerhouse move, but none did so. Ms Lee-Anne Hall, Manager of Arts and Culture with responsibility for the Penrith Regional Art Gallery and the Lewers bequest, pointed out that she had actually appeared before the Inquiry on Tuesday, 6 September 2016 as part of a group from Regional and Public Galleries NSW, specifically opposing the move. [A MAAS volunteer, highly experienced and qualified in the arts field] discussed the matter at length with [one of the other people mentioned among the names underlined] and was told that the people listed were in favour of having more money spent in the cultural field. They were not in favour of moving the Powerhouse, but were not willing openly to oppose the government[xvii]. (Museum volunteers and employees had been instructed that they must present a positive image of the move, and there is fear that any employees or funded institutions opposing government policy will be victimised, hence the anonymity of the previous sentence).

The Sydney Business Chamber and its Western Sydney branch

The most vocal non-Government supporters of the ‘move’ are the Western Sydney branch of Sydney Business Chamber, through their spokesperson Mr David Borger. In his evidence to the Inquiry on Tuesday, 6 September 2016, pages 47ff he made a compelling case for the improvement of cultural facilities in Parramatta, but a far less compelling case for moving the Powerhouse Museum. He did not appear to be aware of the particular problems involved in this action or of the waste of hundreds of millions of dollars that would occur (in comparison with the erection of a new facility in Parramatta). Over the years we have made several attempts to contact Mr Borger and enter dialogue but have had no response. Our submission #8 An Alternative Project would be a far better business proposition for Parramatta than the proposed museum, which will have to rely on large admission prices to cover its cost.

6.    A bias toward Business?

The MAAS Stakeholder Engagement Register from 19 April 2017 to 30 October 2017 shows the following:

Meetings involving the Sydney or Western Sydney Business Council: 2 May, 8 May, 2 May, 19 May, 8 June, 15 June, 13 July, 21 July, 8 August, 30 August, 12 September, 22 September. 13 October, 20 October: total meetings 15

Meetings involving arts and museum organisations: Powerhouse Museum Alliance 21 July, 28 July, 22 August, Save the Powerhouse 21 July; total meetings 4.

7.    The new round of consultation: summary

It is necessary, as part of the building process, that INSW conducts a public consultation regarding the construction of what is now being called ‘Parramatta Powerhouse’.

Parramatta residents from the email group reported that all their acquaintances were cynical about the chance of this being a genuine consultation. No notice had been taken of four years of input from many Parramatta people. As outlined above, page 6, consultation outreach typically stated that the museum would be transplanted, and comments sought were about aspects of this fait accompli. Ms Havilah and Ms Cochrane said that this was not so, that this round of consultation was the early stage of a new process. The project had not been ‘determined’ and the site was still only the ‘preferred’ site so all options were still on the table[xviii].

A statutory requirement of the design competition for the new museum at Parramatta is a period of consultation. Most thought that this round of so-called consultation would be of similar shonky standard and they were correct in this thought.

Zoom meetings were held, conducted by Ms Havilah, Ms Kylie Cochrane, a PR expert from the firm Aurecon, and Mr Tom Kennedy, of Infrastructure NSW. Mr Kennedy was deeply involved with the pre-election destruction of the Sydney Football Stadium, and we have sought to have an undertaking that no irrevocable action will be taken to damage the Powerhouse Museum until the various statutory requirements are complete, the Covidvirus crisis is over, and the forthcoming new Inquiry is complete. There has been no progress so far.

The dissidents – and there are many – were given a chance to speak. At a Zoom meeting meeting aimed at Parramatta people on 23 April I counted 20 active participants. The chief takeaway was that no respondent was fully happy with the ‘move’. The most favourable opinions were four grudging acceptances of the inevitability of the ‘move’. At least 15 respondents stressed consultation deficiencies.

However, on 15 May a beautifully prepared report was issued by Aurecon. Some comments:

·       Among the aims of the process are to generate enthusiasm for the new museum and establish project advocates. (another aim, to correct misinformation about the process, is clearly not being carried out!)

·       There was no mention of the general objections to the ‘move’ idea. Discussion of the rationale behind moving the museum away from its current location in Ultimo is the only mention of widespread open opposition to the ‘move’

·       There was no mention of the widespread dissatisfaction with the convenors selective reporting of the consultations

·       an infographic demonstrates 14 benefits of the proposal but none of its disadvantages (page 4)

·       There are copious lists of stakeholders to be consulted, and considerable lists of communication established, but little general information about the content and reaction. For example a Facebook site, now apparently offline, had over 100 ‘comment’ posts but we do not know their content. We do know that at least 7 of our group posted comments that were negative in regard to the whole ‘move’ idea.

·       A webinar consultation with the Powerhouse Museum Alliance[xix] is listed as occurring on April 2. I emailed ten leading members of PMA, including the webmaster and the public officer, for details. None had participated. The chief convenor has emailed: No member of the PMA took part in a webinar on April 2 or any other day. We deliberately took no part in these consultations knowing from experience that there is never an accurate record of the discussions, especially if you disagree or dispute and that being listed in such Consultation reports means that you are on record as having had your say.

·       One highly experienced and qualified member of our email group reported on a the public on-line 'consultation' conducted by NSW on 23 April. This person asked - how much of the PHM's collections are significant in terms of Parramatta and western Sydney? There was something said about how they had Parramatta Eels jerseys in the collection, but the question clearly wasn't understood. The questioner explained that significance assessment is a standard museological process and the information should be easy to extract from collection data. The question was ‘taken on notice’ but no response has been forthcoming.

8.    The National Trust

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 – 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 –

·         BAD SITE - flood prone

·         HERITAGE - do not destroy Willow Grove and St Georges Terrace - held in high esteem by the community.

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.

*  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.

 

Buried in the middle of table 4 on page 19 the key issue is mentioned. Consultation participants raised the idea to leave the Powerhouse in Ultimo and build a new museum and cultural complex in the historically significant precinct of the heritage listed Female Factory. The response was INSW has been tasked with the delivery of Powerhouse Parramatta in the location outlined in the EIS. Issues regarding site selection were dealt with by the project Business Case and is not a matter for the EIS.

The only problem with this is that the basic issue has never been assessed, and, as is the theme of all the submissions in this group, this is the basic cause of the disastrous ‘move’ idea.

Ms Cochrane has a reputation for avoiding delays and costs[xx]. This, rather than genuine consultation, seems to be her goal.

There is some reason for hope: an infographic on page 6 says the final aim the consultation is to place the final decision-making in the hands of the public. ‘We will listen to you’[xxi].

This must be the outcome of the forthcoming Inquiry.

And a contrast – unprompted expression of popular opinion.

North Parramatta Residents Action Group is a civic leader in Parramatta. On 8 October 2106 they conducted a day-long seminar involving over 15 local cultural groups which recommended the development of the authentic ‘Fleet Street’ area into a multipurpose precinct and local choice of arts facilities. Details of the group are on their website, and they meet regularly and openly.

Well thought-out submissions were made to the first Inquiry. The NPRAG suggestions were supported by Inquiry Submissions 21, 117, 142, 142b and 149. Specific projects suggested include migration (13, 21, 37, 51, 149), early history (North Parramatta Residents Action Group and subs 21, 42, 119, 143), 149 with special emphasis on Aboriginal history (21, 31, 51, 149) and a Questacon or multipurpose display area (36, 51, 149, 143, 96b, 142b).

There are many other examples of Parramatta people’s keenness for proposals other than the Powerhouse ‘move’. For example on 10 July 2017 a public forum (Outcomes of the Public Exhibition of the draft Development Control Plan for the Parramatta North Urban Transformation Precinct) was held by the Administrator in which participants could express their feelings on various subjects[xxii]. Over 1000 submissions had been made supporting the development of the Fleet Street area as a cultural precinct. A succession of speakers made the basic point that this was a desirable outcome. These included Jenny Brockman, Andrew Quah, Suzette Meade of NPRAG, Ronda Gaffey (representative of the Parramatta Female Factory Friends), Brian Powyer, Auntie Kerrie Kenton, Professor Helen Armstrong of Saving Sydney’s Trees, Warren Moss and planner/developer Donna Savage. There is no doubt that there is a very strong lobby favouring development of the Fleet Street area as a cultural precinct over the planned extension of high-rise, destruction of heritage buildings and alienation of open space that is involved in the current museum plans.



[i] In Legislative Council Hansard for Wednesday, 7 August 2019 page 22 the Hon. SCOTT FARLOW is quoted as saying  On several occasions the committee heard that the proposal did not come out of nowhere. Liz-Anne McGregor conducted the analysis of the need for a cultural institution in western Sydney and the suitability of the Powerhouse Museum to move, rather than creating a new cultural institution or transferring any other cultural institution. We have on numerous occasions asked for a copy of, or details of, this analysis but have received no response. Refer to Ms Macgregor’s interactions with the Western Sydney Arts and Cultural Lobby as outlined on pages 4ff in this submission, which is the total information that is publicly available.

[ii] Inquiry evidence. 14 November 2016 page 34: Professor Shine

[iii] Inquiry evidence, Monday, 28 May 2018, page 25, Mr Dyer

[iv] Ms Grasso Inquiry evidence Monday, 5 September 2016 Page 28

[v] This information comes from their submission to the first Inquiry, Submission No 36, Date received: 12 August 2016.

[vi] Sydney Morning Herald, article by Andrew Taylor.

[vii] Submission, fifth page.

[viii] Press release 19 April 2017

[ix] MAAS Stakeholder Engagement Register, Business Case, 2017.

[x] Communications and Engagement Strategy Business Case attachment O, 2017, page 6

[xi] https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/support-from-western-sydney-to-keep-the-powerhouse-20170726-gxjhbr.html. eg Among resident groups, however, there seemed to be little mood for the downgrading of the Ultimo site. One attendee said: "I wouldn't like to see it diminished in any way. The whole thing is constructed to sell off the site to their mates, to developers, so they can make squillions. I'm dead against that." Heritage activist Phil Bradley said it should not be case of either or. The United States' Smithsonian Institution consists of nineteen museums and galleries as well as a zoological park. "Western Sydney residents don't support the wholesale removal of a world class museum from Ultimo just as western Sydney residents recognise that we deserve to have one as well," he said.

[xii] The MAAS Project Elton Consulting, Business Case page 9

[xiii] email, Manager, City Activation Marketing and City Identity City of Parramatta, Tue, Nov 1, 2016

[xiv] The questionnaire that formed the basis of this consultation is online at https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/other/11050/AQON%20-%20Ms%20Amanda%20Chadwick%20-%20Parramatta%20City%20Council%20-%20received%2012%20September%202017.PDF and the single question about the Powerhouse simply asks if people want the museum to be relocated in Parramatta, with no background information and no alternative suggestions.

[xv] Ms Chadwick. Parramatta Administrator, Inquiry evidence Tuesday, 29 August 2017, page 9

[xvi] Page 18-19 

[xvii] We are informed that the director of one of these organisations has recently publicly supported the ‘move’ but we cannot find details.

[xviii] Phone call from Ms Cochrane, 5 May, and statement by Ms Havilah at Zoom meeting 7 May

[xix] It appears that one member of the PMA did have discussions with Ms Havilah, making it clear that he was acting as an individual rather than as a member of any group.

[xx] https://www.aurecongroup.com/thinking/insights/airports/people-profile-kylie-cochrane

[xxi] Source: International Association for Public Participation – IAP2 International. Public Participation Spectrum

[xxii] This is recorded on https://businesspapers.parracity.nsw.gov.au /Open/2017/OC_10072017_MIN_409.PDF