Bulletin 48: The Pointy End

25 January 2020

The Government has taken new steps in the destruction process. It has formally set in motion the process for the erection of the new Museum at Parramatta.


This is being done quietly, ‘taking out the trash’ in a media holiday time. The relevant link is below.  (A note from Tom: Please go to the page and register your interest at the ‘notify me” link. We need to show that people are watching!  Please also go to the Save The Powerhouse Facebook page and check out the latest posts, very compelling on other aspects of the ‘move’ process.)


Here is the link:




Kylie Winkworth and Suzette Meade, Parramatta activist have brought this to public attention


Here are some edited comments from Kylie and from Tom and others.


For the first time there are cross sections of the Parramatta museum showing a few planes and helicopters in a trophy hall but otherwise it is a museum in name only, with no vision, compelling concept or rationale and nothing to say about the content. Moving the Catalina into the position shown will be an even more enormous task than previously outlined,


It is a brutal, overbearing building. The larger building is set so far forward on the site it leaves just a few metres for a notional river walk. One artist rendering from the north looking across the river shows a bridge across the river connecting to what they have called Civic Link, located on the site of the demolished Willow Grove. It will be a massive wind tunnel.  The bridge will not actually be built as part of the project, although it was in the original brief. The cost of this, if it is feasible, will be pushed onto Parramatta City Council. So the Civic Link has no destination, it just dumps people on the narrowest bit of the riverbank.


The placement of the larger building project beyond the alignment of neighbouring buildings is a flood risk. It has no obvious museum resonance. The trophy objects seem to be collected in the smaller building next to Wilde Avenue. There is no basement or plant shown, nor lifts and escalators.  


It is of enormous concern that they are forging ahead despite the bushfires, the grinding drought in regional NSW and the consequent cost - and the need for more cultural support for regional communities.


The key letter is to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment  online at

In effect, it calls for a rubber stamp Environmental Impact Statement of the Parramatta project.


This letter is dated 13 January. It would seem our letters to all Liberal and National Party MPs calling for a re-think has had no effect. There is a definite law of diminishing returns in regard to major mailouts to MPs, Over the years there have been several major mailouts, and the latest, the presentations made to ICOMOS on December 2 by Kylie Winkworth and Jennifer Sanders, were of outstanding merit. However they appear to have been almost completely ignored, usually with a very few responses referring the matter to the Arts Minster who almost never replies. Occasionally someone in Create NSW sends a formula letter ignoring the issues made and just reiterating the party line that it is a good project. No Government responses have ever addressed any one of the basic issues.


It is telling that the contact person noted on p. 2 of the letter is Tom Kennedy who managed the demolition of the Sydney Football Stadium. That does not bode well for the longevity of Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace.


You won’t appreciate the abbreviated description of the PHM which jumps from the 1879 Garden Palace to … The Powerhouse has occupied the Ultimo site since 1988.


There will be display of the concept designs at Tusculum in February. (Tusculum is a beautiful heritage building, part of Sydney Living Museums, in Potts Point) So the great museum for Parramatta and western is not even being premiered at Parramatta.  But we know this is about the delivery of Architecture. Any resemblance to an actual museum is in name only. A stolen name.


Half the PHM will be closed by June so things are getting to the pointy end.



And from Tom: Thanks for the comments, Kylie.

Three attachments

A very quickly prepared series of diagrams on the site.

And I know I am a broken record on this, but the plain fact is that the Government over more than four years has not been able to challenge a single point on the fact sheet. Even if they were creating  a truly iconic building it would not overcome the fundamental problems of the project.

And a letter pointing out the gross misinformation of the document at the website linked above,  New Powerhouse- Request for SEARs. It is utterly wrong to list Infrastructure NSW as the proponent of this idea. They are doing what the Government has ordered, and it is clear from the staff movements listed on page 3 of Bulletin 46 that there is not a lot of enthusiasm for the project. It will be interesting to see how the new executive respond to the challenges. Our usual welcoming letters with fact sheet have been completely ignored.

And finally: follow up from Bulletin 47. We have, of course,  have received no response from the Premier, the Arts Minister, Create NSW, Infrastructure NSW, the CEO of PHM or the Department of Planning for our request for information on any outside peer review or even an internal ‘deep dive’ process assessing the ‘move’ idea as outlined by Ms Havilah. The Government has not been able to produce the slightest evidence of any investigation of alternatives by any Government person, simply because there has never been any, either before Mr Baird's embouchement on 26 November 2014 or even since that time.


Thanks for all the comments. I try to respond to every email, but sometimes miss out. Please do not 'reply' - send a separate email. Your information and insights mean that we have acquired an amazing lot of facts about this disastrous project.  


tomlockley@gmail.com , 0403 615 134, PO Box 301 Pyrmont 2009
tomlockley@gmail.com is the best method of communication)

Australia’s major museum of arts and sciences in Sydney’s most evocative heritage building. For more information
https://powerhousemuseumalliance.com/  See also: https://www.facebook.com/savepowerhousemuseum/  https://www.facebook.com/savethepowerhouse/ http://lockoweb.com/phm/

The business case is online at the private website http://maasbusinesscase.com/