Campaign to Save the Powerhouse
Responsibility for facts stated is taken by Tom Lockley, PO Box 301, Pyrmont
0403 615 134


Bulletin 54: Still active!

Tomorrow, Wednesday 29 July 2020, is the first day of sitting of the new Legislative Council Inquiry into Museums. Four days of hearings are currently planned. See the website . The public are not attending: the hearing is being streamed online- connection details will be made available  tomorrow at . There are many witnesses, the main interest being the return of Mr Harwin (9 30). He will be supported by Ms Foy of the Premier’s Department and Mr Simon Draper, CEO of Infrastructure NSW. This will be their first appearance in regard to the Parramatta Powerhouse project: all Government officials that appeared at the mammoth first Inquiry (June 2016 to July, 2019) have moved on, typically to lesser positions: this is not an indicator of good organizational health. After this session we will see Professor Glover and Ms Havilah.

The fight to save the Powerhouse is not over. The big task now is to make sure that the Ultimo site is indeed vibrant and exciting, and that the heritage buildings combine with forward-looking projects that  produce a synergy that results in a world-leading institution for public recreation and education. Also, as part of the overall plan, the ridiculous Parramatta proposals need to be drastically changed. These are as big a scandal as the original proposal to destroy the Powerhouse.

This bulletin consists of

·          Notes on current developments of PHM

·          The problems at Parramatta

·          A link to a recent article from Art guide Australia:  I think it is spot on, with one important rider: the argument is not between left and right, but between people who value heritage and history and, frankly, the money-grabbing and ignorant barbarians. Many people who have given great support to the Powerhouse fight are traditional conservatives who are in despair at the attitudes of many current Government policies and indeed deeply ashamed of  them. ( )

·          And a quick outline of the Sydney Fish Markets developments which share many of our problems.

The Powerhouse Museum – present situation.

The euphoria over the recent decision to retain the museum at Ultimo remains.

But it is not untinged with doubts. I have had several emails asking if this means that the traditional major exhibits in the museum will remain as there have been strong rumours to the contrary. I have raised this with Ms Havilah, CEO of the museum, and she says that the major exhibits in the Powerhouse Museum will remain in their present site.  While we have learnt, over the years to be wary of promises made by the Government, thee is room for optimism.

There are encouraging signs of revitalisation. The museum is open, free of charge, but with restricted entry due to the Covidvirus situation.. Online booking is available; see and the Transport Hall is now open. Interactive sections such as the Wiggles are closed. The current exhibition of Australian-made Maton guitars is getting good reviews, eg in the Australian. It has been curated by in-house experts, whose skills have been underutilised over recent years.

The museum has certainly been run down over recent years. Financial problems have been exacerbated by low morale in employees and volunteers engendered by the ridiculous ‘move’ plan. There is a huge amount of good will and enthusiasm to assist the museum and it is hoped that this will be fostered. The next weeks will be vital in this regard.

Parramatta problems.

The Government appears to be determined to put a museum that the Parramatta people do not want on a site that the people want kept open for public use, and in the process will waste huge amounts of money. There is clear evidence that the informed opinion in Parramatta would vastly favour cultural facilities that reflect Parramatta’s special characteristics, and certainly the Fleet Street area has the potential to be one of the great cultural precincts of the world. The museum / arts community of the world must continue the efforts displayed in saving the Powerhouse to ensure that a sensible outcome is achieved for Parramatta.

Our Parramatta fact sheet has been modified to reflect the new situation, and a copy is attached. Thanks to all the people who contributed: it is being sent to Government organisations so that they have the opportunity to correct any errors.

Fish Markets.

Members of the email group have highlighted similarities between the Powerhouse struggle and the Government’s handling of the redevelopment of the Pyrmont Fish Markets. These include lack of consultation of knowledgeable stakeholders, top-down administration, and massive waste of money. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that once a project is labelled as being ‘State Significant’, democratic process is entirely disregarded. Attached is a one page statement regarding the project, with a presentation of a preferred alternative.


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