Labor Opposition demands answers on termination of Botanic Gardens Director


Shadow Minister for the Environment Luke Foley has raised questions over the departure of the former Executive Director of the Botanic Gardens Professor David Mabberley – following O’Farrell Government’s release of its plan for widespread commercialisation of the Gardens and Domain.

Mr Foley said Environment Minister Robyn Parker had refused to answer questions around Professor Mabberley’s departure from for Botanic Gardens for the past six months.

“The Government needs to now provide a full explanation of the termination of Professor Mabberley’s employment,” Mr Foley said.

“Were his services dispensed with because he opposed this Government’s commercialisation plans for the Botanic Gardens?”
Mr Foley said when Professor Mabberley commenced in his position in 2011 he initiated an International Peer Review of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

The international peer review of all activities of the Gardens and Domain had never been done before. It brought together distinguished people from botanic gardens in London,
Berlin, Pennsylvania and Florida, who worked pro bono.

The international review found that:

“The selection of David Mabberley, an internationally celebrated scientist, as the Trust’s Director brings an exciting new voice, gravitas and a global perspective to the position.”

“Yet only months later Professor Mabberley’s services were dispensed with,” Mr Foley said.

“Professor Mabberley is a world renowned botanist. He was formerly the Director of the Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, London. He is
recognised as an eminent botanist, historian and authority on botanical art.

“The takeover of the Botanic Gardens by the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust was never mentioned when the International Peer Review took place.

“The Government waited until the world’s foremost botanic garden experts left Sydney, then moved on Professor Mabberley and brought in managers from Centennial and Moore Park to take over the Royal Botanic Gardens.

The O’Farrell Liberal Government recently released a controversial draft proposal that would see the commercialisation of the Botanic Gardens – including a multi-storey hotel.

“The voices of botanists, plant scientists and horticulturalists are being drowned out by the construction planners and commercial event organisers,” Mr Foley said.