Bulletin 49, 23 April 2020

Key message for busy people: Despite current rumour, the decision to ‘move’ the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta is NOT a ‘done deal’. A new round of consultations is under way. Details are as below, but please do not hold off on making responses to the various consultative processes listed below or making any representations on this matter to the Premier, now also Arts Minister.

In this bulletin:

1.     Current consultations

2.     Details of the major consultation

3.     Stuff for the tragics

Current consultations

These are the ‘open’ consultations at the moment: if you wish to participate in today’s webinar, below, get your email in now. Sorry for the late reminder

Participation in Zoom Webinars (Consultative sessions) run by Ms Cochrane’s group,  The Project Team. Phone: 1800 679 121
Email: Powerhouse.Parramatta@infrastructure.nsw.gov.au
The next webinar is 23 April : 1:00pm – 3:00pm and prior registration is necessary.
See: http://www.infrastructure.nsw.gov.au/projects-nsw/new-powerhouse-museum-in-parramatta/ . For those unaccustomed to Zoom, have no fear: if your computer, tablet computer or smartphone has a microphone and a camera, all you have to do is click on a link provided and follow simple instructions.

Others:

New Legislative Council Inquiry into Museums and Galleries
See https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/listofcommittees/Pages/committee-details.aspx?pk=264
Submissions are due on March 3. There is an online 
 questionnaire which gives respondents a chance for free-form responses of up to 500 words. I found it hard to fill in as later questions tended to overlap some of the early ones so there is a guide to the questions attached. It was included in the last bulletin. If you made a submission to the last Inquiry it would be worthwhile dusting it off and resubmitting it. If you would like some ideas or fact checking please be in touch: we have lots of people who can help.

See also Infrastructure NSW online survey: at https://swipengage.com/#/new-powerhouse-parramatta .
This requires some answers of up to 250 words and though the questions are often phrased so as to elicit specific responses, this can be ignored in view of the fact that the project has not yet been ‘determined’ and that therefore the ‘leading questions’ are not prescriptive .

There is also the Pyrmont-Ultimo consultation at https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/pyrmontpeninsula run by the Planning Department. There is a questionnaire.  Deep in the small print, it is stated that the Powerhouse Museum is not included in this consultation but surely the at least the change to the streetscape caused by this is relevant!

Background to the MAAS museum consultation re the Powerhouse Museum ‘move’ to Parramatta.

We have information that constituents approaching MPs to voice objections to the ‘move’ of the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta are being told that this is a waste of time as the process is irrevocably committed – it is a ‘done deal’.

This is not so. A new round of consultations is under way. and at a webinar on 7 April Ms Havilah, CEO of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences confirmed that that the project had not yet been ‘determined’, and that, for example, the site proposed for the Parramatta Museum was only ‘preferred’. There are still statutory requirements to be fulfilled before the process is ‘determined’, and until these requirements are met, it would be illegal for commercial arrangements (such as the sale of the Ultimo building site) to be commenced, and we have repeated assurances from the Government that no such undertakings have been made.

Ms Kylie Cochrane, a Public Relations expert from the firm Aurecon, has been appointed to assist this consultation process, and she and Ms Havilah agree that these consultations are still at an early stage. On 6 April in a phone conversation Ms Cochrane assured me that she was employed to conduct a genuine consultation, not like the so-called ‘consultations’ of mid-2018 where Elton Consulting was hired with the brief to present a favourable impression of the ‘move’ idea.

Both Ms Havilah and Ms Cochrane have stated that their aim is to achieve the best possible outcome for the Powerhouse Museum, and I believe that we should act accordingly.

At this time of crisis due to the Coronavirus, it would seem to be desirable to hold off on any major financial decisions. There is also a consultative process under way regarding the future development of the Pyrmont / Ultimo area, of which the Powerhouse is an important feature There is also in prospect a new Legislative Council Inquiry on museums, especially the ‘move’, and it would be ethical, even illegal, to proceed before these processes were  completed.

So please do not be afraid to exercise your democratic rights. Perhaps you might like to address the Premier, Ms Berejiklian, who is now the Minister for the Arts. A few of our correspondents have noted the great job she is doing re the Coronavirus and say that it is a great pity that she is also now totally responsible for the Powerhouse situation.

Thanks, as usual, for reading all this stuff, and PLEASE if you have any comments  do not use ‘reply’ – write a separate email. It is great to hear from you all: we have a mighty brainstrust giving a wide range of information and comment about this sad situation.

And finally, may we all come through the current health crisis. The effect it is having on so many people is distressing, and the catastrophic effect it will have on our economy has to be borne so that life will be preserved. But still the situation is that we cannot just waste a billion on the disastrous ‘move’ project. It is particularly worrying that the destruction of the Powerhouse may be a presented as a prelude to the construction of the Parramatta facility  as  a ‘shovel-ready’ project for economic recovery.

For the tragics

The second attachment is an article I submitted to the Herald. I emailed it at 7 40 last Sunday evening and before 8 pm I had a reply from the editor, thanking me, but saying that Corona virus was occupying too much space for this article to be considered.

Tom Lockley