POWERHOUSE MUSEUM: BEREJIKLIAN BUNGLES ANOTHER PROJECT – CHOPPING AND CHANGING WITH NO DETAIL

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NSW Labor says the Berejiklian Government has bungled the Powerhouse Museum move from Ultimo to Parramatta at every step of the process – “continually chopping and changing” and providing no detail on the fate of the Ultimo site.

Originally, the then Premier Mike Baird said it would cost “$10 million to relocate the Powerhouse” but it has spiralled to a minimum of more than $1 billion.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Arts Minister Don Harwin provided no answers for what was going to happen to the Ultimo site and they were unable to state the final costs.

Today’s announcement only related to buying the Parramatta land. This also gave rise to even more questions, putting further doubt into the community’s mind on the Government’s ultimate plans for the Ultimo site.

NSW Labor is calling on them to release the business case and detail the scale of the development plans at the Ultimo site.

NSW Labor says the community should not believe the Berejiklian Government’s promise that the move of the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Western Sydney will occur until they actually see the doors swing open on the project in 2022 – at the earliest.

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley and Shadow Minister for the Arts Walt Secord said the project has “lurched from thought bubble to thought bubble” – with each month revealing a new idea and new problem with the current site in Ultimo and the proposed site in Parramatta.

It has been a “comedy of errors” from day one when the previous Premier announced the promise in February 2015 for $10 million to the current minimum estimate of more than $1 billion.

There is clearly no plan and the Berejiklian Government is making it up as it goes along.

At the minimum, the move will cost taxpayers more than $1 billion and today’s announcement still allows for property developers to get their hands on the Ultimo site.

Mr Foley and Mr Secord welcomed the decision to expand Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre’s seating capacity, but criticised the Berejiklian Government’s approach to arts funding in Western Sydney, saying they needed on-going funding for programs and staff.

Mr Secord slammed the “cruel hoax” of $40 million in arts funding for Western Sydney – over 20 years, saying this amounts to a paltry $2 million a year when compared to the more than $600 million going to Sydney CBD arts organisations.

Timeline: Powerhouse saga

February 26, 2015 – The then-Premier Mike Baird and then-Deputy Premier and Arts Minister Troy Grant announce the Powerhouse Museum would be relocated to Parramatta as part of the development of an arts and cultural precinct in Western Sydney – saying the move with cost $10 million.

April 11, 2016 - The then-Deputy Premier Troy Grant said a new Powerhouse Museum would be built in an old car park site by the Parramatta River.

October 26, 2016 – Powerhouse bureaucrat Dolla Merrillees reveals size of museum at Parramatta will be smaller than Ultimo one.

February 21, 2017 – Dr Lindsay Sharpe, a former director of the Powerhouse from 1978 to 1988 says the move to Parramatta may cost up to $2 billion.

February 22, 2017 – Berejiklian Government has a change of heart and says Powerhouse Museum is not likely to move from its site in Ultimo and Parramatta will have to make do with a cut-price museum.

April 20, 2017 – The current Arts Minister Don Harwin says Powerhouse Museum’s move to Parramatta is going ahead — but some of the facility may remain at Ultimo.

July 31, 2017 – Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Arts Minister Don Harwin announce $140 million will be spent to secure a Parramatta site – with one Powerhouse Museum at Parramatta ($100 million to Riverside Theatre development and $40 million over 20 years amounting to $2 million dollars a year for Western Sydney arts.)

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“Another day, another thought bubble, another bungle. The Liberals and Nationals have divided the community through their handling of the Powerhouse Museum’s relocation to Western Sydney.

“In 2015, the then-Premier Mike Baird said it would cost $10 million and now we find after backflips and twists that the relocation will cost at least $1 billion and it will not occur until 2022.

“Today’s announcement gives rise to more question and provided very few answers.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Arts Walt Secord

“The Liberals and Nationals continue to treat Western Sydney with neglect.

“The Arts Minister Don Harwin only wants to attend black tie tuxedo events in Sydney’s CBD.

“The closest Arts Minister Don Harwin comes to Western Sydney is when he flies over the region on his way to the Adelaide Festival.

“The boast that they are going to provide $40 million over 20 years is a cruel hoax and amounts to a paltry $2 million a year.

“In addition, the Government is still refusing to tell us what they are going to do with the Ultimo site.

“Make no mistake, it looks like they are going to hand over the Ultimo site to their greedy property developer mates.