Campaign to Save the Powerhouse

Responsibility for facts stated is taken by Tom Lockley, PO Box 301, Pyrmont
0403 615 134 
tomlockley@gmail.com

Bulletin 64: Preserving heritage: Can you help?

Apologies for the lateness of this information. It took a while to get advice on how to proceed, and only last night I got the final information I needed. 

This bulletin is an invitation to spend a couple of hours on next Saturday, May 1, at Parramatta, supporting the heritage preservation of Willow Grove, and by implication, drawing attention to the undemocratic actions of the Government throughout the entire ‘move’ process. In the early days, the Government was scornful of the resistance to moving the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, saying that the protesters were merely ‘inner city silvertails’ keeping all the goodies for themselves, and this is patently ridiculous. There is universal support for the improvement of cultural facilities in Parramatta, but over the years it has been demonstrated that ‘moving’ the Powerhouse Museum would trash heritage, destroy the world-class Ultimo Powerhouse MUSEUM and waste hundreds of millions of dollars. The outcome would not reflect Parramatta’s remarkable qualities. It is a totally inferior institution that will not achieve the worthy aims of the Government’s own stated goals.

It would be a good idea for us, as supporters of the retention of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo as is and where is, to be seen to support actions being taken the retention of this lovely old building in its present site.

On Saturday, May 1, the annual unions’ May Day March will be held in Parramatta. It will begin at 11 30 at Prince Alfred Square and then march at noon for just under 1 km to Willow Grove for speeches on a stage. There are multiple unions, Labor and greens groups and community participating. There is no specific marshalling area for independent groups.

A major emphasis is the Green Ban that the CFMEU has placed on Willow Grove.

So this is the plan as it stands now: a group of people with large posters supporting the actions of the Green Ban, the retention of Willow Grove on its present site, and the preservation of heritage in general, will occupy part of the area around Willow Grove. The posters will be labelled as coming from ‘Supporters of the Ultimo Powerhouse MUSEUM’. An exact meeting place will be circulated by email and / or text about 10 am on Saturday. I would expect that we would need to be in the area from around 11 am to around 1 30 pm.

We have been given a donation of $500 for signage and there will be a working bee on Friday at Pyrmont, details TBA, to make the posters.

If you are interested in attending at Parramatta or in helping to make the posters email tomlockley@gmail.com and you will receive full details as the arrangements are finalised. My phone is 0403 615 134 and I will try to answer all calls, but email is more reliable.

Other civic groups participating will include the North Parramatta Residents Action Group and the Greens. We are liaising with them and interested people will get details by email as they emerge.

For those needing more persuasion: the elected Council, before being abolished on 12 May 1916, passed several resolutions seeking to preserve the proposed museum site as open space (the River Park). This retains Willow Grove as a centrepiece, hidden in the trees. This picture comes from Civic Link Framework Plan, prepared for the elected council beginning early 2016.

(pictures in the pdf version)

The Government-appointed Administrator passed ownership of the site to the Government as a museum site on 13 July 2017, only 56 days before her autocratic term ended, ‘as a matter of urgency’. When democracy was re-established, the elected council narrowly passed an acceptance of the imposition of the Government-decreed museum on this site, basically because, despite its many faults, the alternative might be to lose the benefits of the development altogether.

This bully-boy approach is typical of the methods used by the Government throughout. Readers of these bulletins will know that even at the very outset of the disastrous ‘move’ project (announced 26 November 2014) there was no research into alternatives and no consultation – even the museum Trustees and the Parramatta Council were informed about it by reading the newspaper announcement. This scandalous lack of due process has persisted through the next six and a half years. Until July 4 last year the Government intended to destroy the Ultimo museum completely, and the ‘reprieve’ announcement of that day seems to have made little difference to the process of denuding the museum. We await the long-delayed final business case with dread, fearing the alienation of the Harwood Building and continuing degradation of the Ultimo Museum as it becomes a theme park entitled ‘Ultimo Powerhouse’.

If we get only ten or twenty people at the Saturday event, we can make our presence felt. But in the words of Suzette Meade, the leader of the Parramatta heritage movement NPRAG, ‘the more the merrier’. If you are interested in attending, please email meas soon as possible. tomlockley@gmail.com . Details are still being finalised.

a .pdf copy of this bulletin has been attached.

Thanks to everyone for their involvement and interest,

Tom Lockley

Campaign to Save the

 Powerhouse

Responsibility for facts stated is taken by Tom Lockley, PO Box 301, Pyrmont
0403 615 134 
tomlockley@gmail.com

Bulletin 64a: Abandonment of plans for May 1

As a result of an unfortunate combination of circumstances, the idea of arranging a public demonstration of support for the retention of Willow Grove by supporters of the Powerhouse Museum has had to be abandoned.

I believe that I have contacted all the people who have indicated their support, but if anyone has been missed, please accept my personal thanks. Also, thanks to the interstate people for their interest and support: you are receiving this 'local' news because I cannot easily separate the recipients from distant places.

I suggest that all Powerhouse Museum supporters attending on May 1  make contact with the North Parramatta Residents Action Group and indicate their support for their position opposing the destruction of Willow Grove.

There is no doubt that the retention of Willow Grove on its present site is common cause among all people involved in opposing the ‘move’ project. The facts remain as stated in Bulletin 64. The proposed demolition and irrelevant relocation of Willow Grove is just part of the appalling story of autocratic decision-making, profligate financial and cultural wastefulness, disrespect for heritage and the spurning of expert advice that has characterised Government actions of the past 6½ years. The ‘move’ project will be a cultural disaster, but even more than this, is an affront to the idea of democratic, responsible government in this state.

A relatively minor matter: in Bulletin 60 it was noted that INSW had an edict that the word ‘museum’ was not to be used in conjunction with the total ‘move’ project. The bureaucrats were to refer to ‘Powerhouse Parramatta’ and ‘Powerhouse Parramatta’, which is to us a clear indication that neither establishment could be classed as a museum. As a token protest, these bulletins will henceforth refer to THE Powerhouse MUSEUM. The proposed Parramatta erection is not the Powerhouse and it is not a museum. We will endeavour to find an accurate, non-obscene, descriptor for this proposed structure. It is not the Powerhouse and not a museum. Suggestions are welcome!

We desperately hope to see that the destruction on level 1 in the Transport Hall is indeed part of a rejuvenation that demonstrates a vast improvement on what was removed, but this does not seem to be a likely outcome of the present process. Strong, but well-sourced, rumours indicate that more bad news is to come.

Incidentally, we have formally asked for the release of the fire regulations and/or the report of a qualified fire safety inspector that necessitated the destruction of the level 1 display cabinets, and you can be sure that this information will be circulated as soon as it arrives.

Tom Lockley

Campaign to save the Powerhouse
Australia’s major museum of arts and sciences in Sydney’s most evocative heritage building.
 For more information
https://powerhousemuseumalliance.com/
See also the 
Save the Powerhouse Facebook page

 

The present view from the south approach. If the museum goes ahead, the whole area will be a mass of high rise with little open space.

The Government-appointed Administrator passed ownership of the site to the Government as a museum site on 13 July 2017, only 56 days before her autocratic term ended, ‘as a matter of urgency’. When democracy was re-established, the elected council narrowly passed an acceptance of the imposition of the Government-decreed museum on this site, basically because, despite its many faults, the alternative might be to lose the benefits of the development altogether.

This bully-boy approach is typical of the methods used by the Government throughout. Readers of these bulletins will know that even at the very outset of the disastrous ‘move’ project (announced 26 November 2014) there was no research into alternatives and no consultation – even the museum Trustees and the Parramatta Council were informed about it by reading the newspaper announcement. This scandalous lack of due process has persisted through the next six and a half years. Until July 4 last year the Government intended to destroy the Ultimo museum completely, and the ‘reprieve’ announcement of that day seems to have made little difference to the process of denuding the museum. We await the long-delayed final business case with dread, fearing the alienation of the Harwood Building and continuing degradation of the Ultimo Museum as it becomes a theme park entitled ‘Ultimo Powerhouse’.

If we get only ten or twenty people at the Saturday event, we can make our presence felt. But in the words of Suzette Meade, the leader of the Parramatta heritage movement NPRAG, ‘the more the merrier’. If you are interested in attending, please email meas soon as possible. tomlockley@gmail.com . Details are still being finalised.

a .pdf copy of this bulletin has been attached.

Thanks to everyone for their involvement and interest,