Preparation for consultative meeting re Powerhouse Museum relocation.


The opportunity for consultation regarding the proposed ‘move’ of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta is welcomed.

As a result of these meetings the public needs to be assured that

1.    Adequate investigation has been given, or will now be given, into the desirability of moving the museum to Parramatta, and that the process will be an open one.

2.    There is a sound financial basis for the planned action, and this will be fully divulged.

3.    Adequate attention has been given to the value of the heritage of the Powerhouse Museum and to the wishes of the Parramatta community.

Over the past eighteen months, numerous questions, some quite complex, have arisen, and despite many letters and emails, few of the concerns raised have been addressed.

The purpose of these pages is to list in some detail various matters that need answers, or at least clarification. There may not be time to deal with these at the public meetings, so to assist the consultative process the questions are listed so that the appropriate people can find the answers and respond. It has been suggested that the best method of disseminating the responses would be to put them on the new website ( ).

A one-page version of the basic points on which information is needed has also been produced.



The opportunity to participate in basic discussions about the planned ‘move’ of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta is appreciated. Many people have been seeking to become involved in such discussions since this intention was announced over eighteen months ago.

The questions listed below are the product of wide-ranging informal discussion among many interested people over the last eighteen months. A small group of people has collated the many questions raised.

To save time in responses, this list of questions includes, either among the questions, in appendices or in endnotes, the facts already discovered. I accept full responsibility for any errors. As errors are pointed out I will feature them prominently on my website, within the Powerhouse Museum Alliance and similar groups, and in communications to my email list. The source of questions is basically responses to a series of emails. These have been prepared by me, and If anyone would like to be included on my email list please email me accordingly.

It is noted that the online form for registering one’s interest in participating for the current series of meetings required applicants to state their age. This is unusual.

However the only viable explanation for this is that the organisers appreciate relevant experience and qualifications, and wish to ensure that the viewpoints of such people are respected. The only other possible motivation for asking applicants’ ages is ageism, and it would be unworthy of anyone to suggest that the organisers of this event would be biased in this way.

If we examine the total group of people who have contributed they have well over 450 years of museum experience, more than 60 years of academic qualifications in museum matters, at least 1500 years of other relevant experience and over 400 years of other relevant qualifications.

Therefore we look forward to the responses to the questions being asked. These questions are printed in bold Italic typeface.

Contact person and editor: Tom Lockley, PO Box 301 Pyrmont NSW Australia , 0403 615 134
31 July, 2017



Something to think about: 1

Apparent lack of examination of the basic idea of moving the Powerhouse to Parramatta. 2

Lack of consultation. 2

Lack of attention to letters seeking information on particular points. 3

Lack of consultation with local government 3

Budgeting. 5

General matters. 6

Matters of heritage. 7

Secrecy of the investigations into the processes of the move. 8

Concerns about logistics and related matters. 11

Flooding. 12

Present directions of the museum and other related matters. 13

Matters related to the construction of the Business Case. 14

Appendix 1: Lack of serious consultation and adequate research on the basic ‘move’ idea  15

a)        People or entities who have NOT been consulted on the basic idea of the move: additional evidence. 15

b)        People or entities who possibly have been consulted on the basic process  21

Appendix 2. Summary of submissions to the Upper House Inquiry. 23

Summary of Upper House Inquiry submissions against the ‘move’ 24

Endnotes. These provide extra evidence to support the assertions made above. 31


Something to think about:

‘If we don’t have a past, we don’t have a future’.

If we destroy unique precincts in the process of creating yet more luxury residential towers or internationalised shopping centres, we are ignoring the long-term economic and social benefits of our heritage.

More importantly, if we do not preserve and publicise the remarkable achievements represented by our heritage we have failed those who came before us.

What is far worse, we will have failed the generations to come.



Apparent lack of examination of the basic idea of moving the Powerhouse to Parramatta.

Is it accepted that the ‘move’ decision was not made by Infrastructure Australia, and that they only urged that the matter be given urgent consideration, conducting no examination of its viability?[i]

Why is it that all communication that has occurred seems to have been based on the assumption that the museum will be moved to Parramatta?[ii]

Lack of consultation

The evidence clearly indicates that there has been no serious investigation of the desirability of the ‘move’ There has certainly been no such investigation by any of the experts hired by MAAS to prepare the business case. Parramatta local government has not participated any such process. The National Trust and at least six other similar organisations have not taken part in any such process. If this is not true, can you please release details?

If it is indeed true that there has been no appropriate research, can this begin now as a matter of urgency and can the decision to ‘move’ be put on hold till it is properly informed by due process?

Even the MAAS Trust, the MAAS director and the MAAS Parramatta Project director appear to have never been consulted on the wisdom of the move: they were simply informed it was going to happen. Museums and Galleries NSW, a government organisation charged with the task of assisting museum development, has apparently not been consulted as to the merits of the proposed action[iii], and Museums and Galleries Australia are definitely in opposition to the idea[iv]. See appendix 1, page 15 for more evidence supporting these assertions.

The most significant consultation may have been carried out by Ms Liz-Anne Macgregor, Cultural Ambassador for the west, but mainly with the Western Sydney Arts and Cultural Lobby[v].

Why has there been no apparent consideration of moving other cultural institutions to Parramatta? If an art gallery, for example, were to be established, the building would not require the special strengthening needed to hang aircraft from the roof or put heavy machines on the floor. Indeed, the Sydney Modern Project could be established at Parramatta. This avoids the criticism that it occupies valuable open space in the Domain and gardens. The huge expense of removing, storing and reinstalling the exhibits and the provision of steam for the steam museum would be saved.

Lack of attention to letters seeking information on particular points.

Why is it that, ever since the project was announced, when we have written to the Arts Minister or other government figure seeking information, we have typically received in answer a standard letter, eg from Arts NSW, extolling the virtues of the ‘move’ idea?[vi]

Lack of consultation with local government

There has definitely been no involvement of Parramatta Council, simply because the council is under administration: there appears to be no consultation with the administrator or with the council staff and there appears to have been no survey of Parramatta residents ( ) and there are no council representatives on the relevant committee ( see the list of steering committee members on ). Following a statement that there had been consultation, an email was sent seeking urgent confirmation of this fact and there has been no response.

See Appendix 1, page 15, for comprehensive evidence supporting the assertion that the basic idea of the ‘move’ has never been properly assessed by the proponents of the move.

Examination of the basic option has been carried out by various people and groups and this has been comprehensively ignored.

Why have the suggestions made at the inquiry and elsewhere, as well as the major investigations by NPRAG been completely ignored?

Does the Department of Planning and Environment have any experts in museum development that gave input in any assessment of the basic ‘move’ idea during November-December 2015, and if so can this research be released?

A summary of the submissions to the inquiry is found at Appendix 2, page 23. Overwhelmingly, the submissions have expressed doubts about the wisdom of the ‘move’.

The best consultation to date has been carried out by the North Parramatta Residents Action Group (NPRAG)[vii]. Basically the combined cultural associations of Parramatta have recommended the development of the authentic ‘Fleet Street’ area into a multipurpose cultural precinct. See

NPRAG documented its supporters in a document sent to the Upper House Inquiry on 3 July 2016 and also demonstrated that ‘the former council did not support the idea of the powerhouse going on riverbank’: see

NPRAGs vision has ‘the riverside theatres being increased to a new home at Fleet Street Heritage Precinct. Along with a gallery amongst the garden setting the proposed light rail route has a stop at the precinct. So along with any heritage museum that we hope to get to reflect the world heritage worthy site it would all be serviced by light rail for tourists’.

The role of the Council Administrator.

Basis to question:

The standard mode for local government involves democratically elected councils. If for any reason an elected council is not available an administrator is appointed.

The fundamental role of the administrator is to maintain the day-to-day affairs of the council and not to take far-reaching decisions that have not been sanctioned by an elected council.

If an urgent decision has to be made during the tenure of the administrator, it is essential that the administrator should conduct wide-ranging discussions to ensure that the measure proposed would have good public support.

In supporting the ‘move’ of the Powerhouse to Parramatta, with whom did the administrator consult, where are the records of this consultation, and what evidence is there that the decisions made would have wide public support?


There is clear evidence that the proposed institution at Parramatta will be of good standard. The Trust has indicated minimum requirements, Ms Merrillees has indicated that the display area will be considerably larger than that of PHM, and the Arts Minister has indicated that the government ‘is committed to establishing an iconic, vibrant, interactive, world-class cultural institution’.

Is it agreed that the cost of the ‘move’ exercise will be at the absolute minimum well over $500 million? Indeed Lindsay Sharp has calculated a cost of well over a thousand million dollars, and has fully documented this assessment (Upper House inquiry submissions 148a, b and e).

The sale of the ‘poles and wires’ was supposed to fund cultural projects such as the relocation of PHM. Is there enough money to fund the ‘once in a generation’ investment in these matters? It appears that the amount raised from ‘poles and wires’ will only be around $600 million.[viii]

The government is determined to make the proposed new museum an institution of world class. [ix] Is it recognised that the proceeds of the sale of the PHM site will not make any significant contribution to the costs of building the new museum in Parramatta?[x]

Is it true that there has been no arrangement of any kind for either the sale of the Powerhouse site or the purchase of the Parramatta site?

NB: If a decision was made to either purchase the new site or dispose of the old site before the project is seen to have a sound basis, this would seem to be very irresponsible.

According to the UPPER HOUSE INQUIRY it appears that it has not been decided whether the museum will be the only building occupying the site or whether it will be part of a commercial building, eg occupying the first four storeys or so of a large tower. Is this still the case?

Is the issue of necessary recurrent funding in future years being adequately considered, in government plans for all cultural institutions?

It is one thing to gain political kudos through generous development; it is even more important to enable all museums and galleries to maintain and develop their exhibition, collection, education, research and touring programs. This is particularly relevant for business plans for any development in either Ultimo and Parramatta. The efficiency dividend has been very destructive to all, and it is unlikely that local councils will want to pick up the continuing tab for a state institution.

General matters

The original plan as proposed by the government was to sell the SITE of the Powerhouse to developers for high rise and use all that money to create a new Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta ‘to rival the Smithsonian’. Is it now realised that this is a ridiculous plan?

Will the museum continue as Australia’s only museum of Arts and Sciences, and if so what is the rationale for moving it from the current position, which is far more accessible from interstate and overseas? Or is it intended to abandon the idea of an institution dedicated to the linkages, and resulting synergies, between sciences and the applied arts? The exploitation of these linkages will be increasingly important in the world of the future.

Mr Harwin indicated that one of the options was that all or part of the museum remain at the Ultimo site. Is he saying that in fact one of the proposals as part of the business case now is to not ‘move’ the museum at all?

Why is no public recognition made that there is already a very large and comprehensive MAAS museum in the west on Windsor Road, Castle Hill - 10 minutes’ drive from Parramatta Station? (This means that there will be 2 MAAS museums in close western proximity. Please provide an explanation as to why little advertising is dedicated to this 'hidden' Powerhouse (MAAS) Museum in western Sydney).

What technological museum will be provided for Sydney residents north, east and south of the CBD? These thousands of residents will have no science and technology museum as visit - Parramatta is not easily accessible from many areas. Few international and interstate tourists will set out from the CBD to travel to Parramatta, particularly if their stay in Sydney is short.

The tradition of the museum is to co-operate with adjoining educational institutions. The Technological Museum was next door to the Technical College, and visits to, and joint projects with, the museum were part of the life of both institutions. The present site is close to UTS and Sydney University. Is it realised that this gives the present site a clear advantage to the proposed site at Parramatta?

Why the emphasis on central Parramatta?
There are various many aspects to this question, for example: Is the proposed relocated museum the best use of the proposed very expensive site? Should consideration be given to the idea of creating or supporting more than one museum in the western suburbs, scattered through the area? Also, is Parramatta, as a forward-looking community, better suited to the establishment of a completely new museum rather than using hundreds of millions of dollars to relocate the traditional icons of the Powerhouse? Should the new museum be integrated with the University of Western Sydney, with resultant synergies in many fields, from elementary education to robotics?

Matters of heritage

As the Powerhouse buildings illustrate and mark the early shipping, business and trade development of the new colonial era, why are the Powerhouse buildings not a dedicated Australian Historic Site?

When travelling in America, Great Britain, Europe and Asia such the lack of appreciation of Australia's history is embarrassing - these countries treasure their history and their sites earn massive incomes from tourists. In Parramatta our early gaol and convict women's buildings are a crumbling proof of the total lack of care, education and appreciation of all government administration levels in the area[xi].

How many options have been seriously considered for keeping the Powerhouse in Ultimo? Attention is drawn to former director Rose Hiscock’s approved 2014 plan which can serve as the ‘base case’, the case for making no changes to the current position. From this basis modifications could have been developed with input from appropriate experts, leading to something that would meet the perceived needs without the disastrous financial arrangements that are apparent in the current intentions.

Considerable academic work has been done in assessing the monetary value of heritage. A quick Internet search finds many examples of this[xii]. What general calculation method has been used in assessing the heritage value of the present building?

What special consideration has been given, for example, to the following aspects of the present site?

a) The goods line walk from Railway Square passes the ABC, the University of Technology (including the Gehry building) and leads directly into the Museum. The first Harris Street Museum was built next to the Technological College and this also adds relevance to the present site. The currently nominated Parramatta site cannot possibly offer such ambience.

b) Another unique feature of present building is that the 1980's building of a Science and Technological Museum is actually on the site of the first steam-driven industrial power station in Australia. It is now the setting for one of the world’s leading collections of steam machinery. Again, this vastly adds to impact of the presentation of these exhibits.

c) The powerhouse is the only remaining 1988 construction in the Darling Harbour precinct that celebrates the bi-centennial year and this adds even more value.

d) The Powerhouse buildings are listed by the National Trust NT and at least five other professional bodies including RAIA (Significant Buildings Register), RAHS (see plaque) and the Institute of Engineers, now known as Engineers Australia (see EA plaque). The Wran Building is separately listed by virtue of its RAIA award to its design architect Lionel Glendenning and the supervising architect J W Thompson. The Heritage Report on UPH indicates extensive significance arising from history, technology and locality/social history. The former Ultimo Post office and the Harwood building are important parts of the total complex and are protected accordingly. The buildings themselves are certainly a feature of any visit to the museum and are of great interest to visitors.

In these regards, the currently proposed Parramatta site has not a fraction of the quality of the present PHM establishment.

Secrecy of the investigations into the processes of the move

Why have volunteers been discouraged from giving input?

On 9 March staff and volunteers at the museum were told that ‘The NSW Government has committed to moving the Powerhouse Museum as part of the development of a broader Arts and Cultural Precinct in Western Sydney’. ‘Despite recent changes to NSW Government, including the appointment of a new Premier and a new Minister for the Arts, planning for the New Museum continues unaffected’. Employees and volunteers were told to familiarise themselves with this information ‘so we can provide a consistent message’. Task groups of employees are being formed to discuss the general development of the museum ‘including the ‘move’ to Parramatta’, but there has never been examination of the desirability of this ‘move’ and volunteers are not included even in this sham consultation.

A concomitant of the present situation, with the volunteers and employees being asked to ‘toe the party line’, there may be an impression given that the volunteers and indeed the staff are in favour of the ‘move’. There is considerable evidence that this is far from the case. One senior volunteer carried out a survey that indicated that there was a strong majority of volunteers opposing the ‘move’. Can we be assured that there will be no implication in any statements about the ‘move’ that it has support of volunteers?

What is the reason for all the information to be ‘cabinet in confidence?

In the Westminster system it is standard practice for discussions in cabinet to remain confidential. Once a decision is made, all cabinet members are expected to support it or to resign from cabinet.

Less clear is the application of ‘cabinet in confidence’ to prevent the contents of such things as the business case for the PHM ‘move’ from being divulged. Not only are its contents being kept secret but it is also claimed that the input to the business case from people like the consultants called to the Upper House inquiry has been held to be confidential.

(David Blunt, Clerk of the Parliaments, in his comments on the Upper House inquiry on 27 February 2017, says that the legal grounds for withholding such information is not strong.)

This process is paid for by public money and the public has a right to know what has been found. There seems no logical reason why the preliminary business case, now completed, cannot be publicly released. We have not passed to the formal negotiations on contracts for any work to be done, so the principle of ‘commercial in confidence’ cannot be applied.

Why has at least the preliminary business case not been released?

Why has the supporting material on which the business case is based not been made available to the public?

One acceptable reason for not releasing cabinet in confidence material is that there is a security risk. Can we be assured that this is not the case in regard to moving the museum to Parramatta?

If even the input data is not to be released, we have been assured that the business cases are indeed prepared in accordance with Office of Financial Management Policy and Guidance Paper tpp 08-5[xiii]. Could we have an outline of how these requirements are met, at least in regard to the Preliminary Business Case? From tpp 08-5:

·        The Business Case must include ‘the case for change – demonstration, justification and priority of the service need (section 3)’

·        The first option to be considered is the Base Case. That is, what happens if the status quo is maintained’ (section 3.4, page 13. What were the deficiencies of the present system? How is it demonstrated that the destruction of the museum in its present form and its re-erection at Parramatta is the most efficient way of meeting Parramatta’s needs?

·        ‘Agencies should consult with stakeholders early in the process…..’ (section 3.4).

·        It must produce analysis of the proposal showing that it ‘offers value for money relative to alternatives (section 4)’ (page 10, section 2.3).

·        ‘Agencies must present and fully describe realistic options and their impacts (positive and negative).

·        ‘The case to maintain or achieve a new service should be clear to any reader………’

·        A mandatory requirement of all business cases submitted to Treasury is ‘an economic appraisal (supported by financial analysis) to evaluate the costs and benefits of the options and to determine which option offers superior value for money’. Which options were examined? (A range of options must be presented and it must be determined ‘which of these options has the highest net benefit and / or which option is the most cost effective…….’ (section 4.3, page 18))

·        ‘Cost effectiveness and the priority of the proposed service should be unambiguous’ (page 11, section 3).

The Preliminary Business case has to ‘provide a range of alternative service delivery options, comparing the costs and benefits, risks, sustainability issues, technical standards and legislative requirements of each option’ (page 9, table 2). Could we please have an indication of the options considered?

Is it realised that the process was far more transparent and that the finances etc were readily available to the relevant people when the museum was commissioned? What special factors are there that inhibit appropriate disclosure in the present circumstances?

Concerns about logistics and related matters

We need to be assured that appropriate care is taken with the ‘move’ to ensure the safety of the exhibits and the provision of adequate facilities at Parramatta or elsewhere. Basic questions include:

·        What was the result of the metallurgical assessment of the Boulton and Watt machine prior to its removal? Will the flywheel have to be dismantled? If so, what preparation is being made for the metal to be cradled to prevent fracture? Will the timber framework have to be replaced? What is the ballpark figure for its removal and reinstallation?

·        The removal and reinstallation of the Catalina is a big job, and because of its size will have to be pretty well ‘last out and first in’. When it was installed, the building was in an incomplete state, and the aperture was actually 2 cm narrower than the width of the fuselage. The fuselage had to be rotated diagonally to enable it to be inserted. Could we be assured that the later alterations to the building are such that the original aperture can be re-established and the aircraft removed without damage to structural walls? Has the new building been provided with a suitable access route for the Catalina?

·        The difficulties with the Catalina are obvious. However the removal of VH-AMB, the Beech Twin Air, is more difficult because of the structure of the aircraft, where only the wingtips can be removed, and because of the state of preservation of the monocoque structure. What provision has been made for the cradling of the aircraft and its disassembly and transport? Has an assessment been made of the viability of disassembly and reassembly?

·        It is believed that the F-1 rocket engine (NASM 5311 Cat:1976-0769) was inserted before the interior fittings of the cavernous transport hall were complete. It must be removed in its support frame. It cannot rest on its flange. Does its removal mean that there will need to be a major hole in a structural wall of the transport hall?

·        The Case crane assembly in the steam area is believed to be one of the three remaining such assemblies in the world. Will it be moved to the proposed new museum? If not, can it be guaranteed that it will be preserved in situ?

·        Have plans been made for the generation and reticulation of steam in the new building? Has adequate consideration been given to strengthened floors for the installation of the steam engines, Loco no 1 and locomotive 1243? Has adequate consideration been given to the strengthened ceilings needed for the aircraft? Has the considerable cost of these been accepted rather than looking at establishing other facilities which do not need this very expensive building technique?

·        In the opinion of senior volunteers with relevant experience, supported by other experts, the task of assessing, packing, storing and moving technical instruments and other delicate exhibits is of such magnitude that there will be insufficient numbers of suitably trained and staff to handle this difficult task, especially considering the considerable staff cuts that have occurred in recent years. Could this be checked thoroughly and could we be informed of the results of this investigation?

·        Will the underground, climate controlled storage in the Harwood Building be replicated at Paramatta or at Castle Hill?

·        Will the Harwood Building workshop be replicated at Paramatta or at Castle Hill?

·        Can we be assured that the removal, transport and interim storage for the material held in the underground, climate controlled storage in the Harwood Building will be adequate? Who has been consulted on this and what is the consequent report and the suggested process?


Basic question: Why choose a site subject to a 100 year flood when other sites are available?

Subsidiary question: If the underground storage of the Harwood Building is to be replicated at Parramatta, what steps are being taken to ensure that this is not going to be flooded? If it is going to be stored on an upper storey, surely this will be at the expense of prime public area.

A more complex question

In 1970 there was a so-called 100 year flood and the area was inundated. Shops and restaurants along Church Street had huge amounts of damage, as did David Jones and area the area around.

Some twenty years later, the then State Government decided something should be done to prevent it re-occurring and The Upper Parramatta Catchment Trust ( UPRCT ) or Uppercut as it was known to its participants, was formed. Mitigation works were planned, including a large dam or retaining wall with a 2-metre hole in the bottom to let the water out gently.

The standard method of working out the likely inundation level in these circumstances is to calculate the volume of water, then calculate the height the water would reach, then trace the contours to map the inundation level. However local knowledge and experience indicated that there were special factors in the catchment areas that would cause the waters to bank up in certain areas. This would actually be exacerbated by the planned mitigation measures. This was investigated and eventually considerable modification was made to the mitigation works because of these special factors.

Will the panel ask the people working on the flood level problem to check on this matter and report back when this is done? UPRCT data should still be available.

Present directions of the museum and other related matters

In the Upper House inquiry the Minister for the Arts stated that one of the options was that all or part of the museum remain at the Ultimo site. Does this mean that in fact one of the proposals as part of the business case is to not ‘move’ the museum at all?

The Minister for the Arts is on record as saying that the Powerhouse area will be used for ‘cultural purposes’.

Is this simply to avoid the bad publicity of destroying a significant building, and to save the cost of moving the large machinery? Will the remaining purpose of the ‘cultural precinct’ simply be a token gesture which will not reflect the complexity and breadth of the museum’s scope and significance, and may simply be a space to hire for other ‘cultural’ purposes?

Is it an absolute guarantee that the buildings will be preserved in their traditional form and not be demolished?

Affiliated Societies

The terms of reference for the Upper House Inquiry include

c) opportunities to revitalise the structure, reach, and impact of museums and galleries, and their research and collecting priorities

d) access to the collections of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the Australian Museum and any other state collections held in trust for the people of New South Wales, and programs that promote physical and online access

In the past these matters have often involved societies that have had a formal affiliation with the museum[xiv]. This has not been mentioned over the past few years.

What is the current policy within the museum regarding the affiliated groups, and who oversees it?

Matters related to the construction of the Business Case

We are assured that the business cases are prepared in accordance with Office of Financial Management Policy and Guidance Paper tpp 08-5. Could we have an outline of how these requirements are met, at least in regard to the Preliminary Business Case?

The Preliminary business case must ‘provide a range of alternative service delivery options, comparing the costs and benefits, risks, sustainability issues, technical standards and legislative requirements of each option’ (page 9, table 2). Could we please have an indication of the options considered?

Please note: in asking the questions in this section we are not asking for the contents of the business case to be divulged, though the evidence is that the withholding of the business case and the expert opinions that support it. We simply want reassurance that the appropriate processes are being followed.

General question re financing

It has been noted that the MAAS act of 1946 gives only one firm commitment as regards financing the museum and that is in section 15, Statutory endowment, where the government is committed to pay ‘exclusive of payment of salaries of members of staff and working expenses of the Museum …………… an annual endowment of two thousand dollars or such larger amount as Parliament approves. Some people, mystified as to why the Trust has not objected to the move, are wondering if the government has threatened to withhold funds unless the Trust supports the move?.


Appendix 1: Lack of serious consultation and adequate research on the basic ‘move’ idea

a)    People or entities who have NOT been consulted on the basic idea of the move: additional evidence

Parramatta City Council Administrator

A full search was made of the archives of the Parramatta Sun and the Parramatta Advertiser and there was no mention of any event that could be construed as consultation with Parramatta local government regarding the basic idea of the ‘move’. A search of the Parramatta Council website had similar lack of success. ( gives access to an excellent overview of Council’s overall cultural policy, and it involves many possible initiatives, of which the museum ‘move’ is only one, and it is clear that this is an outside initiative. The Council (administrator) welcomes the concept of the ‘move’ of the museum and the website claims that in a survey ‘there was also strong support expressed for the establishment of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) in Parramatta’ but that is a response to the question asking if people approved of the idea, not a question asking for people to express a preference among alternatives. In the Council paper The Deloittes paper Review of the Heads of Agreement between City of Parramatta Council and the NSW Government to establish an arts and cultural precinct, Thursday, 27 July 2017, prepared for the council, also gives no indication of consultation about the basic ‘move’ idea and alternatives).

We emailed the Council seeking information and received the following reply (my underlining):

From: Christopher Snelling
Date: Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 3:16 PM
Subject: Enquiry to the City of Parramatta

Dear Mr Lockley,

I am responding on behalf of the City of Parramatta in relation to your enquiry regarding public consultation in relation to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) future relocation to the City of Parramatta. The future relocation of MAAS is a decision of the NSW State Government and no public consultation has been undertaken to date by the City of Parramatta.

MAAS has recently concluded a series of public consultations through both face to face surveying and an online survey in relation to MAAS Parramatta. To date the City of Parramatta has not received any information in relation to the recent public consultation undertaken by MAAS.

For further information on the MAAS public consultation please contact MAAS directly through the contact details on their website.

Kind regards

Christopher Snelling
City Activation Marketing and City Identity City of Parramatta
PO Box 32, Parramatta NSW 2124
( (02) 9806 5081 | 0417 081 168 * Links |

This email was circulated widely, then on March 5 2017 Mr Dwyer, Parramatta City Council Manager was quoted as saying that the Council was enthusiastic about the process. I therefore wrote to him as follows:

from:     Tom Lockley <>


date:      Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 1:11 PM

subject: Move of Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta: Quite urgent!

I have on several occasions contacted Council by various means asking for details of the time and place that Council discussed and evaluated the proposed move of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta.

Lack of response to these contacts, plus an assiduous reading of the local press, plus a thorough search of the Council website, plus careful investigation of the Legislative Council inquiry into the museums, have led me to the conclusion that the matter has not been fully discussed by Council.

I have documented proof that there has never been an appropriate examination of the desirability of the move by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, or by any agency of the State Government.

I have made public assertions that the matter has never been discussed appropriately by Parramatta Council, and I have written to this effect in widely distributed pamphlets.

I do not want to promulgate a falsity.

In view of the enthusiasm expressed by Mr Dwyer, Parramatta City Council Manager, for the move of the museum to Parramatta, I assume that I was wrong. Could you please direct me to the records of such a discussion by the Council, or send me any appropriate material, eg report of a cultural committee attached to the council and its acceptance by the council.

On receipt of this material I will immediately and publicly withdraw the assertions I have made regarding the council's lack of activity in this regard.

( reports Mr Dwyer's enthusiasm for the project.)

In view of the seriousness of this matter I would hope for a quick response. It should not be too difficult and I do want to correct any false statements I may have made.

No response was received to this email.

The MAAS Trust

The evidence indicates that even the Trust has never been asked to consider the desirability of the ‘move’ and indeed has never been briefed by anyone on the way the ‘move’ proposal was researched and examined before being announced

o   Certainly they were first informed about the ‘move’ by Ms Rose Hiscock, the former Director of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences at the Trust’s 9 December 2014 meeting. (MAAS BOARD OF TRUSTEES responses 27 Sept).

o   Professor Shine: [at the outset when presented with Ms Hiscock’s report] the Trust did not request a detailed consideration from MAAS staff on the pros and cons of the proposed relocation. Shine document 14 NOVEMBER HEARING RESPONSE TO QUESTION ON NOTICE

o   They were not briefed about financial aspects of the sale of the Ultimo site (5 September 2016 Ms MERRILLEES also Professor Glover) After questions on notice it became clear that there was no written briefing supplied to the trustees on the reasons for the move.

o   Also Professor Glover believes that he has never attended a meeting of the Parramatta Project Control Group, one of the groups that are involved in the planning for the ‘move’ of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta.

o   Wednesday, 19 October 2016 Professor GLOVER: I am trying to recall a conversation with the Department of Premier and Cabinet. I do not recall a recent conversation with departmental officials. (He later said) I have certainly had conversations with staff within the Premier's office, and with staff within the office of the Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts. At no time has he indicated that the reasons for the ‘move’ were discussed.

The Director of MAAS and the Project Director of the ‘move’

o   Ms Merilees and Mr Parry, of PHM, also appear not to have been consulted re the desirability of the move. When questioned at a volunteers meeting they both avoided confirming that they had been consulted. The announcement of Ms Merilees’ appointment indicated that she had been tasked specifically with achieving the ‘move’.

o   UPPER HOUSE INQUIRY : Ms MERRILLEES Friday, 17 February 2017 I think that that [the pros and cons of the move] is a question for Government and I am not here to answer questions on Government policy.

Experts hired by MAAS

o   The following experts hired by the government who gave evidence on Friday, 17 February 2017 were also not tasked with investigating the basic premises for the move.

o   JOE AGIUS, Director, Cox Architecture

o   RACHEL MAREE NEESON, Director, Neeson Murcutt Architects Pty Ltd

o   STEVEN CASEY, Director, Advisory, KPMG


o   PETER ROOT, Senior Project Consultant, Root Projects Australia


Organisations not consulted

From Tuesday, 6 September 2016 UPPER HOUSE INQUIRY evidence was given by the following stating that they have not been consulted on the desirability of the move

o   Trustees of the Historic Houses Trust. (Mr ROSE)

o   DONNA RYGATE, Chief Executive Officer, Local Government NSW

o   SALLY WATTERSON, Arts and Culture Project Manager, Local Government NSW. She was told it was a ‘done deal’ by Parramatta’s GM

o   Local Government Association p 30

o   Dr BARRETT, Chair, Board of Museums and Galleries of NSW: This is a government body, part of Arts Australia: ‘ Our organisation has not been involved in the discussion with the Government about the proposed move’.

o   Mr Howarth, Museums Australia: ‘The [consultation] process has not taken place; that is the trouble. I would think three to six months is probably the minimum for an appropriate consultation with the people not just of Parramatta but of greater Western Sydney about their particular needs and interests. Equally the process needs to look at the impact of the removal of the Powerhouse from the Ultimo precinct…….. With respect to the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum, we note—and this is true amongst our members—that there is widespread concern about the process, or lack of process, in the proposed move. Our recommendation is that the ‘move’ process be put on hold for the time being, until a more thorough investigation has taken place. We also would like as part of that, if indeed it is the Government's final decision to ‘move’ the bulk of all key parts of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, that it look at the impact that would have on the innovation precinct of Ultimo, probably the hottest innovation precinct in Australia’.

·        No representatives of any of the following groups have been mentioned as having been consulted:

o   Museum experts

o   Academic groups

o   Educationists

o   Client groups. All focus groups have been presented with the statement that the museum is to be moved, and asked what they want to see in the Parramatta site. For example on Monday evening November 14 2016 a firm called 'Instinct And Reason', 420 Elizabeth street Surry Hills, conducted a focus group research activity into the ‘move’ to Parramatta. The participants were told that the museum was moving to Parramatta and then asked what they would like to see at that site

o   Information and Cultural Exchange, Parramatta (no mention of Powerhouse to be found on their website

o   Museum volunteers. There are over 200 volunteers, many of whom are highly qualified and have enormous experience in the museum environment.

·        The Arts and Culture Advisory Committee, consisting of Barney Glover, Brett Clegg, Catherine Livingstone, Chris Freeland, Dan Rosen, David Gonski, Genevieve Clay-Smith, George Souris, Gretel Packer, John Kaldor, Ken Crouch, Michael Dagostino, Nicholas Moore, Peter V’Landys, Rosemary Blight, Sam Mostyn, Samantha Torres, Simon Mordant and Wesley Enoch, has not issued any statement indicating that the group has investigated the desirability of the move, though two members have been mentioned as possibly supporting the move. There is no mention thus far of any consultation or research by the committee on the website of Arts NSW, but the present round of meetings indicates that there may be some movement in this regard.

·        Submissions to the current inquiry being held by the NSW Legislative Council almost universally request comprehensive local consultation to meet local needs. As well as NPRAG, the ‘Fleet Street’ concept is strongly supported by submissions 21, 117, 142, 142b and 149. Specific topics for consideration include migration (13, 21, 37, 51, 149), early history (NPRAG and subs 21, 42, 119, 143), 149 with special emphasis on Aboriginal history (21, 31, 51, 149), a multipurpose display area (36, 51, 149, 143, 96b, 142b).

·        The best consultation to date has been carried out by the North Parramatta Residents Action Group (NPRAG)[xv]. Basically the combined cultural associations of Parramatta recommend the development of the authentic ‘Fleet Street’ area into a multipurpose cultural precinct. See

As part of information obtained by FOI, a list of meetings between 3 December and 26 February 2015 is given below. Note that there is no mention of any possibility of consultation about the desirability of the move.

·         3 December: CEO, Head Curator, Penrith Council Director Culture Penrith Regional Gallery: MOU and long term partnership (Note Agenda item 5.4).

·         3 December 2014: CEO,,Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) Parramatta: Meeting to discuss collaborative projects.

·         17 December: Parramatta site visit CEO Sydney Water: Executive familiarisation with Parramatta and potential sites.

·         22 December: Executive Planning day: Discussion of 'Principles for Success'.

·         21 January: Trust Workshop: Draft Museum of the Future and workshop outputs sent to Trustees.Trustees subsequently requested not to circulate the document.

·         2 February: Cross government agency meeting — initial review of site options MAAS, NSW, Urban Growth, DTI.: Briefing from Urban Growth NSW on initial desktop review of site options.

·         2 February: Museum of the Future Snapshot — tabled and circulated prior to Trade and Investment Discussion. Initial conversation on establishment of working groups and steering group — lead Trade and Investment and Infrastructure NSW.

·         Commitment to circulate details of Terms of Reference and steering groups detail (not received at time of writing report).

·         6 and 7 February:Secretary DTI Discussions with Director and President:Discussion with Secretary regarding Museum of the Future reference to Ultimo site.

·         Secretary invited to address Trustees at 4 March meeting.

·         5 February:Roundtable Meeting in Parramatta,Parramatta City Council Mayor, CEO, Director of Property and Development, Director Marketing and City Identify,Lord Mayor's Chief of Staff, Acting VC UWS: Relationship building and discussion re opportunities.

·         24 February:Deputy Secretary DTI, Director INSW:Terms of Reference (tabled at meeting).

·         26 February:Building Western Sydney's Cultural Arts Economy launch, Launched by the Premier Baird.:Building Western Sydney's Cultural Arts Economy launch, (Deloitte) includes data and recommendations regarding cultural infrastructure in Western Sydney. Director MAAS participation on launch panel.

(Prepared by: Rose Hiscock, Director)

b)    People or entities who possibly have been consulted on the basic process

The following are the only sources that we have found that have been mentioned during Upper House Inquiry as people who may have been asked to advise on the basic ‘move’ idea.

Even if this is the case, their advice has not been presented to the Inquiry or as far as we can find out anywhere else:

·        Ken Crouch from Screenworks in northern New South Wales. He is a member of Arts and Culture Advisory Committee, (see above), and may have been employed as to conduct a ‘peer review’ of the basic ‘move’ idea. References to this are ambiguous.

·        David Borger, Western Sydney Director of the Sydney Business Chamber has been a prominent advocate for the establishment of a cultural precinct at Parramatta, and the inclusion of the Powerhouse Museum as a focus of such a precinct. He has discussed with members of the planning group ‘about opportunities for a cultural presence in Parramatta’.
He is a former Mayor of Parramatta with credentials in town planning. He now runs a private planning consultancy firm, advising developers. He has no apparent museum, arts or science background.
He submitted a letter with 39 signatures supporting the ‘move’
on 19 April 2017 and its sentiments are echoed on but with no deep consideration of the issues. In his evidence before the Inquiry he asserted that there was wide support for the ‘move’ but did not provide any details of appropriate research (INQUIRY INTO MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES Tuesday 6 September 2016 page 47)

·        Liz-Anne Mcgregor, 6 July 2017: Cultural Ambassador for the West. She met regularly with one group—the ‘Western Sydney lobby group’ (sic). ‘The idea [for the move] came up that one way to do that [have improved cultural facilities] would be for Western Sydney to have a State institution in Western Sydney. That was how it began’.
I believe she meant the Western Sydney Arts and Cultural Lobby. This group consists of unspecified individuals and 13 organisations, almost all of which are art and theatre groups. There are no museums or historical groups.
Two of these groups are based on UWS. Their major press release is seen on , (Medianet is a professional organisation also used by UWS). They seek increased funding for the arts, notably in their area, and demonstrate a lack of equity in the present situation.
In their submission they do not want the Government funds only to be ‘used for the relocation costs of the MAAS to Parramatta’.
A SMH newspaper story quotes David Capra, the famous artist who is spokesperson for the group, as saying that the group wants ‘two major tertiary institutions – the Australian Film, Television & Radio School and National Arts School’ to ‘relocate to western Sydney’.
It also backs ‘the already-mooted ‘move’ of Powerhouse Museum from its present site in inner-city Ultimo’. This is hardly a ringing endorsement of the Powerhouse ‘move’ proposal.

Appendix 2. Summary of submissions to the Upper House Inquiry

The inquiry deals with general matters of museum policy as well as the proposed move, on which this report concentrates.

The ‘anti-move’ submissions are listed overleaf.

Also, several submissions were neutral in their view, typically seeking more information and proof of proper research and they are not detailed in these notes.

There were 199 submissions, some individuals making more than one submission. Of these 39 addressed other issues related to the terms of reference. Of the remainder, 126 were individual submissions opposing the move, (from 98 people), and 28 were group submissions opposing the move. These included the National Trust and other major heritage groups and the North Parramatta Regional Action Group.

The 6 pro-’move’ submissions included two (nos 48 and 110) that are ‘out of town’ general support for government policy, and three ‘establishment’ submissions: NSW government, Museums and Galleries Australia, and MAAS executive. None give a convincing rationale for the ‘move’ in terms of refuting any of the arguments against it. None give any indication of having been involved in research or other investigation of the ‘move’ idea.

The remaining submission was from the Western Sydney Arts and Cultural Lobby. This group consists of individuals and 13 organisations, almost all of which are art and theatre groups. There are no museums or historical groups. Two of these groups are based on UWS. Their major press release is seen on , (Medianet is a professional organisation also used by UWS). They seek increased funding for the arts, notably in their area, and demonstrate a lack of equity in the present situation. In their submission they do not want the Government funds only to be ‘used for the relocation costs of the MAAS to Parramatta’. A SMH newspaper story quotes David Capra, the famous artist who is spokesperson for the group, as saying that the group wants ‘two major tertiary institutions – the Australian Film, Television & Radio School and National Arts School’ to ‘relocate to western Sydney. It also backs the already-mooted ‘move’ of Powerhouse Museum from its present site in inner-city Ultimo’. Hardly a ringing endorsement.

The presentation from Suzette Mead and Jon Hillman of Parramatta was very forceful and illustrated the way that Parramatta citizens wanted their own project, not just a relocated Powerhouse. They have common cause with PHM.

Summary of submissions received re Powerhouse 'move'

Total received


Less submissions on other subjects


Submissions re Powerhouse


Individual submissions

Opposing move


In favour of move


Group submissions

Opposing move





These expressed general support for the decentralisation policy




Check total



Summary of Upper House Inquiry submissions against the ‘move’

1.0 Submissions: from the Powerhouse Museum Alliance

167: Powerhouse Museum Alliance: purpose and support: Submission Background for this informal lobby group of professionals.

Nicholas Pappas: Submission 113: Abdication of statutory responsibilities by trustees and lack of inspection transparency in government processes.

Jennifer Sanders: Submission 142: Mythbusting: addressing the arguments to move the museum  Submission 142a: Costs and risks of moving the museum  Submission 142b: A cultural plan for the 21st century  Submission 142c: Moving Museums: a brief survey Submission 142d: Planning for NSW’s Cultural Development: a tale of two proposals

Grace Cochrane: Submission 96: Expectations of Audiences: constituents must be considered Submission 96a: Sustainability? Appropriate investment for sites and programs  Submission 96b: For the Record: Briefing paper for Premier, August 2015

Kylie Winkworth: Submission 149: Ten important issues regarding the proposed move of the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta; and consideration of alternative strategies to support museum development.

Lindsay Sharp: Submission 148: I: The Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta ‘move’: a critical analysis of the NSW Government’s planning and costing processes: Submission 148a: II: The Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta ‘move’: a critical analysis of the NSW Government’s suppressed planning and costing documentation…: Submission 148b: III: A possible alternative focused on human creativity and the creativity of western Sydney’s multi-cultural Communities Submission 148c: IV: Widespread consultation required in the greater western Sydney region as to what kind of new cultural facility they wish to see established in Parramatta. Submission 148d: V: Site selection process in Parramatta. Submission 148e: VI: Commercial aspects driving Ultimo site divestment/sale by Govt to facilitate the unaffordable, destructive and impractical concept of ‘moving’ the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta. Submission 148f: VII: Performance by Board of Trustees, dominance by Government, sub-optimal project oversight, potential conflicts of personal interest, reduced access and risks to collections, misleading messaging and lack of transparency. Decline of museum’s educational role; senior management project competence, appropriate design and exhibit development abilities and internal curatorial skills base. Submission 148g: VIII: The new museum project in Western Australia – comparison with the ‘Powerhouse Museum move’ to Parramatta Submission 149h: IX: Committee of Review proposal; an appraisal of the ‘Powerhouse Museum move’ to Parramatta project in terms of consultation, location, planning process, cost and scale.

Trevor Kennedy: Submission 141: Plea to review decision, from PHM Life Fellow and benefactor.

Anne Schofield:: Submission 103 and 103a: Comments from PHM Life Fellow, Honorary Associate and benefactor, on responses from donors and benefactors, criticism of funding cuts, consultation process and others

Marco Belgiorno-Zegna AM: Submission 162: International comparisons with proposal and no successful examples; value in satellites; inconsistency with other cultural institutions; Government’s unwillingness consider any improvement in accessing the Powerhouse site from the Haymarket/Darling Harbour side, including Light Rail access; ‘…nothing other than an attempt by the NSW Government to curry favour with the western Sydney electorate. In pursuing this strategy the Government is merely taking a short-term view that may be in its own interests and not those of the people of NSW.

2.0 Related papers: Individuals who oppose the relocation and suggest better alternatives

Lionel Glendenning: Submission 155: Government cultural planning  Submission 155a: Powerhouse Museum: cultural Submission 155b: Urban design and architecture

Bernice Murphy: Submission 158: Questions significant presumptions, consequences, and shortfalls in both process and long-term outcomes; some irreversible consequences; alternative planning for direct access, stimulus and enrichment of communities radiating around Parramatta. Submission

Des Griffin: Submission 132: Within broad policy discussion, includes: The proposal to move the Powerhouse Museum to the western suburbs, specifically Parramatta, is one of the most ridiculous proposals concerning cultural institutions in the history of this state. Its rationale and costing are more than seriously flawed, the promoted reasons and outcomes are laughable and the major considerations which the government has addressed have been concealed.

Christina Sumner: Submission 136: 1) Access to the collections; 2) The sale of the Powerhouse Museum site in Ultimo and its proposed move to Parramatta, and whether there are alternative strategies.

Debbie Rudder: Submission 143: a. Question costing process and conclusions for move; PHM needs new investment rather than costly move; better strategies for museum and gallery development on Western Sydney; b.Adequacy of funding support for collection-based museums, and transparency of advice; c.consider Castle Hill venue; impact of efficiency dividend on museum programs; value of web-site access.

Andrew Grant: Submission 105. To discredit the argument advanced by Infrastructure NSW that the current location of the Powerhouse Museum is “remote” and therefore unsuitable because it falls outside a proposed “Sydney CBD cultural precinct”. It also expresses concern about apparent inconsistencies between the Government’s previous and current policy on this matter and in the decision-making process.  105a. Loss of the current site of the Powerhouse Museum would be a great loss to Australia’s cultural heritage.

Sandra McEwen: Submission 135: Mismanagement of public funds; inadequacy of proposed site; barrier to tourists; breakup of synergistic creative associations.

Patricia Johnson: Submission 121: Opposition to sale and relocation of Powerhouse Museum; request for better alternatives for Parramatta.  

Belinda Nemec: Submission 93: Recommendation to reverse ill-thought out decision; relationship between the collections, exhibitions and programs of MAAS and the Ultimo site is extremely important; if moved to Parramatta, it will close entirely within twenty years, through lack of visitation and community support. Better options for Parramatta.

Louise Douglas: Submission 144: Absence of research and strategic analysis is perplexing; Western Sydney cultural facilities should be enhanced; not convinced that there is strong enough foundation for moving the Powerhouse to Parramatta, but support different solutions so the cultural facilities of Western Sydney can be enhanced.

Rosalind Ward: Submission 153: Alternative strategies; costs of moving; impact of efficiency dividend

Terence Measham: Submission 65: Significance of both collection and buildings; need central location.

Shirley Fitzgerald: Submission 90. The future of the Powerhouse Museum, and access to its collections.

Leo Schofield: Submission 119. A dozen cogent reasons as to why this proposal is not only misguided but also absurdly costly, in terms of both money and loss of prestige.

Tom Lockley: Submission 137, a,b,c: Oppose the relocation; heritage value of buildings and large exhibits; and other issues such as costs, safety, place in Ultimo.: Submission

Pyrmont History Group: Submission 0015: For people of Ultimo and Pyrmont – and of the inner city as a whole – access to their own industrial and social heritage.

Ultimo Village Voice: Submission 0022: Opposes the sale of the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo and its relocation to Parramatta, while firmly supporting the establishment of new cultural facilities in Western Sydney. Mrs E Bosel: Submission 169: Concern at inadequacy of site and safety of collection; the move will devalue potential for cultural tourism; no alternatives other than purchasing an adjacent building in Ultimo and curtail any plans to proceed with a move to Parramatta.

Darani Lewers: Submission 118: Serious flaws in proposal to relocate; consideration of alternative strategies.

Jane Burns: Submission 139: Oppose the move; questions of access, sale and transparency of process.

Charles Wilson: Submission 156: Concerned the proposed relocation to Parramatta will effectively kill off the Museum as a significant cultural institution; should stay in …the tourism, creative and education precinct of Ultimo.

Janet De Boer: Submission 101: Access to collection from interstate; opposition to demolition of buildings; lack of adequate consultation re both Powerhouse and Parramatta.

Carl Andrew: Submission 104: Significance of collection; importance of central location.

Sue Boaden: Submission 120: Oppose total move; consider better options. .

Marina Garlick: Submission 97: Danger that we will lose the Powerhouse and western Sydney will get a substandard facility. Other options better for Parramatta.

Tim McDonald: Submission 122: Oppose move: proposal appears arbitrary, lacks context, appears to be policy making on the run, politically motivated rather than a considered response to process and fails to respond to identified needs of the community.

Irma Havlicek: Submission 128: To protect the Powerhouse Museum and its outstanding collection, is to leave it where it is; resource it adequately where it is, so that it can do its vital job of educating and enlightening visitors…; build a brilliant museum in Parramatta, and lend objects to it from all of Sydney’s state museums.

Garry Horvai: Submission 78: Criticism of government decision and process in the face of existing Powerhouse strategic plan; opposition to proposed move. .

John Petersen: Submission 157: Closure of Powerhouse Museum’s Migration Heritage Centre as a consequence of efficiency dividends and budget cuts, is an example of high level of inequity in arts and cultural funding for ethnic communities and rural and regional areas of NSW. .

Tor Larsen: Submission 5: Observations on audiences for both the Powerhouse in Ultimo, and for Parramatta; lack of transparency in planning.

Rebecca Spindler: Submission 82: Opposition to move of Powerhouse; government has a visibly, very poor record of community consultation; move is symbolic of the Baird government consistently placing the desires of big business over the needs of its citizens. Better opportunities for Parramatta. Jesse Adams Stein: Submission 12: Powerhouse Museum to be retained at its existing location in Ultimo: Cost, Community, Heritage and architecture, urban amenity, linkages with educational institutions.

Robert Jeffrey Mellifont: Submission 19: Oppose moving Powerhouse from harbourside where it is part of an existing cultural and heritage precinct for existing and growing audiences. 0019 Mr Jeffrey Mellefont

Ms Jeanie Kitchener:: Submission 112: Feels strongly about maintaining the Powerhouse museum on its current site; where museum designed around the original power station.

John August: Submission 106: Oppose the sale and total relocation; look at better options

Dr Megan Hicks: Submission 133. Consideration of new museum in Parramatta and maintaining site in Ultimo.

Kylie Winkworth: Submission 149 a-e: extra papers re NSW museum policies: a: Potential funding impacts on museums and galleries affected by council amalgamations. b: NSW government policy funding and support for museums and galleries; & opportunities to revitalise the structure, reach and impact of museums in regional NSW. c: NSW government policy; Opportunities to revitalise the structure, reach and impact of museums; Impact of the efficiency dividend; Development and transparency of advice.  d: Access to the collections of NSW government museums. e: The economic impact of museums and galleries on cultural tourism; Sydney and regional NSW.

3.0 Related papers: Institutions (among others) that oppose the relocation and suggest better alternatives

21: Save the Powerhouse campaign  

15: Pyrmont History Group   

40.The Design Institute of Australia

44, 44a. North Parramatta Residents Action Group:

61. Professional Historians Association of NSW.

50. Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials.

22. Ultimo Village Voice .

29. Blue Mountains Cultural Centre – Blue Mountains City Council:

51. NAVA: National Association of Visual Arts 42. Museums Galleries Australia

60. The Australian Ceramics Association.

46. The National Trust of Australia .

131. Oriental Rug Society of NSW.

166. Australian Society for History of Engineering and Technology (ASHET).

159. Australian International Council on Monuments and Sites.

108. Engineers Australia

27. Engineers Australia NSW Division – Engineering Heritage Sydney: Submission .

30. Greater Western Sydney Action Heritage Group



Endnotes. These provide extra evidence to support the assertions made above.

[i] Evidence that that the ‘move’ decision is made by the government alone

Time sequence of the decision

The ‘move’ suggestion was first made by Infrastructure NSW on 24 October 2014, and they stressed the need for consultation and further examination. It has been taken over as definite policy with by the government with almost no consultation, not even with Parramatta Council. Research into the move has been dominated by the assumption that the ‘move’ will proceed.

Statement from PHM Director

Ms MERRILLEES Friday, 17 February 2017 I think that that [the pros and cons of the move] is a question for Government and I am not here to answer questions on Government policy.

Incorrect statements from Ms Torres(Project supervisor from Arts and Culture, and Arts Minister

1.     Monday, 5 September 2016 SAMANTHA TORRES The relocation of the MAAS is a clear direction from the Government (5 September). ‘It is uncontested that government accepted a recommendation from Infrastructure NSW to relocate the museum from the current site in Ultimo to a site in Parramatta’.

3        Mr Harwin, 6 July 2017. ‘The MAAS headquarters moving to Parramatta as is the museum as a whole………. Actually, this was part of the State Infrastructure Strategy considerations from the first point that the State Infrastructure Strategy was released in 2012’



On 29 September 2016 UPPER HOUSE INQUIRY Mrs Torres was unable to produce modelling done by Infrastructure NSW. She took this task as a ‘question on notice’. The document in response to this question that was produced on 14 November from Infrastructure Australia recommended nothing more than the urgent consideration of the move.


[ii] For example we have information that on the evening of 14 November 2016 a firm called 'Instinct And Reason', 420 Elizabeth Street Surry Hills, conducted a focus group research activity into the ‘move’ to Parramatta. The participants were told that the museum was moving to Parramatta and then asked what they would like to see at that site. No research investigating attitudes to the ‘move’ itself can be found, despite enquiries to PHM and Infrastructure Australia.


[iii]  Search of website  30/7/2017




[v] (UH transcript September 4 page 8). This group consists of individuals and 13 organisations, almost all of which are art and theatre groups. There are no museums or historical groups. Two groups are based on UWS. Their major press release is seen on http;// , (Medianet is a professional organisation also used by UWS).


[vi] Letters to the government which question the efficacy of the ‘move’ are typically answered by letters that ignore the matters raised and simply proclaim the virtues of the ‘move’ without offering evidence in support. See, for example, http;// page 2




[viii] UPPER HOUSE INQUIRY, Tuesday, 6 September 2016 The Hon. WALT SECORD; Dr Watterson, your colleague mentioned the $600 million cultural infrastructure fund from the sale of poles and wires. From that there is funding of $2.2 million for the Sydney Opera House, funding for the Powerhouse Museum ‘move’ and funding for the Sydney Modern Project. There will not be much left out of the $600 million.

[ix] UPPER HOUSE INQUIRY 1 September 2016 ‘The board of trustees supports the ‘move’ to Parramatta. However, as the trustees of the collection we believe it is our responsibility to ensure that in that ‘move’ a number of things are taken account of. One of them is that the site is fit for purpose and appropriate to the construction of the museum, as the Premier and the New South Wales Government have indicated. Secondly, we need to ensure that the capital funding required to build the iconic museum that the Government has referred to and the operational funding that is required to operate the museum into the future are appropriate to the vision that we have for the museum in Parramatta. Finally, we need to ensure that the remit of the museum to provide access to the collection for the long-term is achievable’.

Monday, 5 September 2016 Ms MERRILLEES; It is really important to note the Premier's commitment to 40 per cent more of the collection being on display and that is what we are working towards.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017 Mr Harwin; Government is committed to establishing an iconic, vibrant, interactive, world-class cultural institution in Parramatta to further grow and promote an accessible and diverse arts and cultural environment in Western Sydney. We have a huge responsibility to deliver this institution in our State's fastest growing and most diverse region, Western Sydney, and also of course in greater Sydney's second central business district, which is Parramatta.

This implies a building of value of at least $500 million

[x]The maximum value of the cleared site was estimated at $250 million when the ‘move’ process was announced. Source; Andrew Zhang, Manager of Hookers Real Estate, Pyrmont, basing this value on comparison with the ‘hellhole’ site owned by Sydney Council opposite Wentworth Park. [x] Its value if the existing buildings were retained on the site was considerably less.
The ‘book’ value of the land is
$48,000,000 (Market value – based on existing use and restrictions of site as a Museum) and the ‘book’ replacement value of the buildings is quoted as $214,873,000. (answers to questions on notice - Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences - 27 September 2016). If the building is demolished this building cost becomes an unmitigated loss. The cash value of the heritage of the buildings and the institution as a whole is not included in these figures.

Calculations based on input from many people with expert knowledge indicate that the cost of removing and storing the material from the museum will be at least $200 million, and if the building is cleared the cost of that will be about $10 million. If the buildings are to be retained then the cash value of the land will be less, and if the buildings are to be used for cultural purposes the cash value of the land will be nil. The land at Parramatta will cost around $120 million and will either involve the use of a smaller site or the demolition of heritage-listed buildings.

[xi] Comment from a PHM volunteer of wide experience and high qualifications.


[xii] Sample examples;

Calogero Guccio, Domenico Lisi*, Anna Mignosa and Ilde Rizzo University of Catania – Dept. of Economics and Business, Italy Has cultural heritage monetary value an impact on visits? An assessment using Italian official data June 2015

John Carman University of Birmingham, UK Heritage value; combining culture and economics March 2014

David Throsby (Macquarie University) The Value of Heritage October 2007

Keith Hooper and Kate Kearins Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand, and Ruth Green University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand Knowing “the price of everything and the value of nothing”; accounting for heritage assets May 2004

The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, Assessing the Values of Cultural Heritage, May 2002


[xiii] Mr LIMKIN, Upper House Inquiry, Tuesday, 6 June 2017


[xiv] From the 2011-12 Annual Report; 15. AFFILIATED SOCIETIES The Museum provides facilities and resources to the following 43 affiliated societies (representing some 20,000 people); Antique Arms Collectors Society of Australia; Art Deco Society of NSW; The Asian Arts Society of Australia Inc; Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (NSW Division); The Australian Ceramics Association; Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society (Ku-ring-gai) Inc; Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society (Sydney) Inc; Australian Association of Musical Instrument Makers (NSW Branch); Australian Flute Society Inc; Australian Lace Guild NSW Branch Inc; The Australian Numismatic Society; The Australiana Society Inc; The Aviation Historical Society of Australia (NSW) Inc; Ceramic Collectors Society Ceramic Study Group Inc; The Colour Society of Australia (NSW) Inc; Design Institute of Australia, NSW Chapter; The Doll Collectors Club of NSW Inc; The Early Music Association of NSW Inc; The Embroiderers’ Guild NSW Inc; The Furniture History Society (Australasia) Inc Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia NSW Inc; The Knitters’ Guild NSW Inc; The Metropolitan Coin Club of Sydney; National Space Society of Australia Ltd; Object - Australian Centre for Craft and Design; Oral History Association of Australia (NSW); Oriental Rug Society of NSW Inc; Philatelic Association of NSW Inc; The Phonograph Society of NSW Inc; Pyrmont Ultimo Historical Society; The Quilters’ Guild Inc Royal Aeronautical Society, Australian Division, Sydney Branch Inc Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain; NSW Chapter Royal Society for The Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (NSW Chapter) The Silver Society of Australia Inc; Sydney City Skywatchers Inc; Sydney Space Association The Twentieth Century Heritage Society of NSW Inc; Walter Burley Griffin Society Inc; Watch and Clockmakers of Australia (NSW Branch); The Wedgwood Society of NSW Inc; Woodworkers’ Association of NSW Inc.