The Parramatta people prefer other options

The HillPDA study February 2017[35](page 4) and Deliotte Review of Heads of Agreement July 2017[36] cited by the non-elected Council Administrator as evidence of consultation at the Legislative Council Inquiry hearing on29 August do not canvass any alternatives to that already ‘announced’ by the Government.

The best consultation to date is North Parramatta Residents Action Group October2016: the combined cultural associations of Parramatta recommend the development of the authentic ‘Fleet Street’ area into a multipurpose cultural precinct, and local choice of arts facilities, supported eg by the 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 other proposals 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[37]. 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 are 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.

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).

We agree with Mr Borger when he said, on ABC Radio 10 July 2018, ‘we can’t be properly informed if the Government keeps all its documents under lock and key’. We feel that, given open communication from the Government, that Mr Borger’s group and the opponents of the ‘move’ would find they had a lot of common ground and a mutually advantageous solution could be worked out.

The provision of a locally based museum at Parramatta, plus for example a Questacon[38], would, we submit, be far more financially attractive. The huge cost of the ‘move’ adds enormously to the need to recoup costs through entry fees, and this additional cost means inevitably that more people will not be able to afford it. Attendances, particularly of people and children of lower socio-economic status, suffer, diminishing the cultural and social value of the museum.[39]

The Fleet Street precinct in Parramatta includes the goal, dating from 1798. Many old buildings, and good open space areas, make this attractive area the ideal location for a cultural precinct.

The Daily Telegraph of 18 July 2018 carried reports of a SECRET (sic) report indicating that the present building was completely unsatisfactory. If it is such compelling evidence, why is it not publicly available? Why do those of us who work there not notice these problems? Why is it not cheaper to remedy the defects here than build an entirely new museum? What was the role of Government funding cuts in maintenance defects?

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{35] Online at sites/council/ files /2017/Parramatta%20Museum%20Economic%20Impact%20Study%20Final.pdf

[36] Online at inlinefiles/Deloitte%20Review%20of%20Proposed%20Arrangement%20between%20COPC%20NSW%20Government.pdf

[37] This is recorded on /Open/2017/OC_10072017_MIN_409.PDF

[38] The Canberra Questacon had attendances of 511,000 last year from a feeder area involving barely half a million people ( It is a huge tourist attraction. The Parramatta area would draw figures in the millions.

[39] This logical relationship is made clear in Final Business Case Version Number: 07 Gate 2 Review Date issued: 14 February 2017, underlying sections 5. 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.6, 5.7 and 5;8.