Campaign to Save the Powerhouse

Responsibility for facts stated is taken by Tom Lockley, PO Box 301, Pyrmont
0403 615 134

Bulletin 56: still not where we want to be…

The latest from the Government:

The Government has created a heritage listing for the Ultimo Power House and is in the process of conducting consultation regarding revitalisation of the Powerhouse Museum.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

But here is the translation.

The heritage listing is in effect a licence to destroy the world award-winning museum conversion and the 1989 Harwood building. The exhibits of the museum are not considered part of the total heritage of the site. Reading the ‘small print’ It covers only the original power station walls. See the first attachment.

Judging from its past record, consultation has previously meant that the Government records only the answers it wants to the questions it wants to ask. We hope for something genuine this time.

And as for rejuvenation of the museum, PHM was a world class Museum for the first twenty years or so in its present building. Since at least 2010, with the destruction of the Inspired: design across time which had been planned as permanent base for design displays, there has been constant downgrading of the traditional areas. This continues even after the July 4 220 announcement, for example with the removal of major items such as the Bugatti and the Bechstein piano on July 31. It is not a matter of making a world-class museum but of recreating it – not exactly as it was, but with the same spirit. As a recent letter to the Herald said ‘My suggestion would be to create a place which inspires and educates visitors about the wonders of science, technology and design; a well-funded jewel in Sydney’s crown interpreting our technological past, present and future’. (The writer added ‘But wait a minute …)

But I suppose that nearly six years of battling has made us all very cynical, so maybe this time there will be something good coming out of the new consultation that will occur. The situation is a lot better now than it was a few months ago, and surely the forces of reason will prevail.

So what can we do?

There is another survey for us to fill in ( ).  It is not a textbook example of push polling as per the authority on this subject, Sir Humphrey Appleby . But it does ask for simple answers to complex questions and if you find it hard to respond to it you might like to download attachment 2 and use it as a guide to say what you want, then send to . My effort is attachment 3.  Incidentally, the suburb of Darlington has been letterboxed with postcards seeking their participation – it will be interesting to know if this applies to other suburbs.

So, once more unto the word processors, dear friends, once more; stuff up their inboxes with reasoned argument and wisdom. The game’s afoot: the savages are on the run. So let us therefore conduct ourselves so that when the Parramatta and Ultimo museums stand proud and strong, generations still to be born will say we did not fail them. (thanks to Bill S and Winnie C for the phrasing of this paragraph).

Please respond to the survey, one way or the other, and it might be an idea also to send an email to Mr Harwin, Ms Berejiklian and any of the other usual suspects protesting against the heritage assessment.

But to conclude, some positive signs. It looks as though the recent study into overland flooding of the Parramatta site has got through: see Linda Morris’ 7 September article on the powerhouse museum alliance website. Within the museum, use of in-house experts seems to be developing again – at MDC at Castle there is a special display on the Olympics. See . And maybe there will be proper consultation about the future of the museum despite the continuing intransigence of the few politicians still supporting the ‘move’.

And the final attachment – for the real tragics – is the revised statement about the ‘Finding” response to the report of the previous Inquiry. We submitted a GIPA asking for information about the independent review panels that oversaw and apparently approved the decisions made about the museum, and the revised statement, incorporating the results, has been sent to the current Inquiry. Thanks to all the people who gave information and ideas to this process.

The next hearing of the current Inquiry is October 2, online as usual.

Thanks for reading, and your continuing input.

Tom Lockley
0403 615 134

Attachment 1: the heritage order
Attachment 2: Blank survey form for your comments
Attachment 3: my response to the survey
Attachment 4:
Supplementary submission 118a