Bulletin 47: 2020 vision

The Parramatta monstrosity.

There  has been enough comment on the recently released museum design, but just an additional thought: one of our correspondents has pointed out that the idea of raising all display areas above flood height also means that the Catalina and all the other Very Large Objects will have to be inserted at level 1- as if this was not difficult enough already, The Catalina, for example, will have to be the last thing out of Ultimo and the first into Parramatta, according to Peter Root, the Government’s own expert, involving huge holes in the walls at each place. If it can be done, it will cost huge additional amounts.

Entirely missing ‘peer review processes and governance panels’

On 5 December I had a second interview with Ms Havilah, as representative of Mr Harwin, to whom she reports. I have previously taken her through our ‘one sheet’ paper that lists the fundamental flaws in this idea, and she has not been able to rebut any of the facts presented, but this time I concentrated on the matter of the ‘peer review processes and governance panels’ that Mr Harwin had proclaimed as sole justification for persisting with the ‘move’ process (response to the final report of the Legislative Council Inquiry, 17 July 2019).

We had pestered Infrastructure NSW, the Arts Minister, the Department of Premier and Cabinet and MAAS museum for more information, without the slightest response. Ms Havilah told me that this had been done by a process called ‘deep dives’ carried out by Infrastructure NSW. These, if they exist, could not possibly qualify as ‘peer review’, but again we sought information to see if the Government was making even a token gesture of getting outside professional advice. We asked all agencies for information about participants, meeting frequency, topics covered and so on. We stressed that we needed a response which we could assess over the holiday period we could assess what had happened. If it exists, these details would be available on computers and available within seconds. There has been again absolutely no response.

It is therefore fair to say that there has never been expert assessment of the ‘move’ idea at any time, much less in the crucial time before the announcement of the idea on 26 November 2014. The Government has strenuously resisted advice that shows the manifold errors of this disastrous plan, and continues to back this silly idea regardless of cost.

Volunteers no longer ‘gagged’

The interview I had with Ms Havilah resulted from an incident at the opening of the Linear exhibition, when I was threatened with being expelled from the occasion when I sought to speak directly with Mr Harwin, who was free at the time. Ms Havilah, to her credit, did not support this action, and has changed the instructions to her staff. No longer will volunteers be required ‘to present a favourable view’ of the ‘move’ idea.

Remember that Mr Baird’s original proposal was for the sale of the site of the Powerhouse, providing enough money for a museum ‘to rival the Smithsonian’ with some left over! As the FACTS have become apparent, why have the proponents not seen sense?

We are a democracy, and this stupid decision must not proceed. This link leads to a statement which the Government obviously accepts as being true. It has been submitted ad nauseum to the Government and they cannot find anything wrong in it, because it is 100% facts.

This email group has been functioning since May 2016, and almost daily informed facts and comment are received. Thanks to all the people involved: best wishes for a relaxing holiday to prepare for an active  2020.

Tom Lockley, convenor.


Clarification: The Australian Institute of Architects

In publicty for the design brief and related matters, the Government made much of a statement that the design competiton had the support of the Australian Institute of Archtects. But the Government cannot take comfort from any idea that the Institute of Architects supports the ‘move”: See https://www.architecture.com.au/news_media_articles/sydney-and-parramatta-both-need-a-maas-facility , April 2019, which states their position very clearly:

The Institute recently endorsed the design competition developed for the new MAAS in Parramatta. In doing so, the Institute has endorsed a competition process, not a policy.

NSW Chapter President Mr Andrew Nimmo stated  ‘…we would like to see a MAAS Parramatta facility go ahead … but the facility should complement the Ultimo Powerhouse, not replace it. [The Powerhouse Museum] contributes to a cultural ribbon that stretches from Central Station to the converted 19th century goods line, weaving by highlights including the ABC and Frank Gehry’s Dr Chau Chak Wing building. The Powerhouse building’s form, its history and its siting within this publicly valuable precinct is integral to the social, cultural, technological and economic story of Sydney.’

There is also the issue of the Ultimo Powerhouse’s high architectural value, which should be celebrated and retained. The adaptive reuse of the building in 1988 won the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter’s highest honour, the Sulman Medal, and it has earned listing on the Institute’s own Register of Significant Buildings. To this end the Institute recommends the government grant the Powerhouse Museum the heritage listing and protections that it deserves as a matter of priority.


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

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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 https://maasbusinesscase.com/