Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor: published and unpublished
These letters refer to news reports such as those in our News Chronologies: see current  link here  and earlier News Chronology files.

You are invited to add to this page by emailing copies of both published and unpublished letters to newspapers, to mailto:  info@powerhousemuseumalliance.com
Please identify your name, the newspaper, whether published or unpublished, and the date. The letter will be added to this chronology.

24 September, 2023
‘History rewritten’
Sydney Morning Herald
From an architectural point of view, Leo Schofield is correct about the significance of Willow Grove (Letters, September 17). Through a social and cultural lens, the place was of extraordinary value to women, the nursing profession and Parramatta communities. As the Burra Charter tells us, buildings are read in their environment, not as a pile of bricks. The government is quite right to forget about creating a fake Willow Grove in some random location, after the absurd decision to demolish it for a museum which should have been built elsewhere. Judith Coombes, Lilyfield

 17 September, 2023
‘Willow Grove relocation not rewriting history’
Sydney Morning Herald
It’s understandable that Parramatta residents are upset by the loss of Willow Grove, but the blame rests solely on the mendacious Berejiklian government (“Villa will not become ‘fake heritage’ ”, September 10). All losses of heritage buildings should be mourned but the hard reality is that, from an architectural point of view, the destroyed building was far from unique. There are numerous examples of its high Victorian Italianate style scattered throughout Sydney.
However, the Roxy Theatre in Parramatta is unique, a splendid art deco picture palace that would sit comfortably among Miami’s vast stock of early 20th century architecture, the city’s major tourist attraction. The minister should be congratulated for recognising the importance of this gem. Restoration of the Roxy would go some way towards compensating Parramatta for the loss of Willow Grove. Leo Schofield, Potts Point

There seems to be something madly illogical about demolishing historic buildings to build a museum. Surely, the previous NSW government could have found a talented architect who could incorporate historic buildings as part of a new museum in Parramatta.
Paul Doyle, Glenbrook

5 September, 2023
‘Parra Matters’

Sydney Morning Herald
The Powerhouse Museum saga has been a debacle from the start. But the new structure out there on the Parramatta riverbank might become the Museum Of Immigration. Parramatta is arguably the most multicultural metropolis in the nation, the ideal home for this museum. And Premier Minns and Co, much to their relief, can demonstrate that Parramatters.
Kent Mayo, Uralla

4 September, 2023
‘Power up: restoring, not rebuilding, ticks all the boxes’
Sydney Morning Herald
May the Powerhouse Museum power on for, at least, many decades to come
(“Minns government scraps Powerhouse Museum rebuild at Ultimo”, September 2).
It is the best news I’ve heard in a long time that the museum is to be restored, not rebuilt. It is a sensible economic decision. It is a decision that, hopefully, millions of people will appreciate in the decades to come as they visit this treasure of Sydney. As for heritage, architecturally significant and interesting buildings will be saved. It is also an environmentally responsible decision. When we as a society should be working towards a sustainable future, it would have been a travesty to tear down repairable buildings for the sake of a questionably better replacement. May the collection remain intact and other exciting exhibits be brought from storage to display at Parramatta. Margot Vaccari, Berowra

 Your article describes the government’s decision as cost-saving – it is museum-saving. Hundreds if not thousands of us have been fighting for eight years to retain the Powerhouse Museum in its original form and function. We now have the opportunity to remedy the years of neglect by the previous administration and look forward to the promised (real) consultations. NSW residents and visitors own the 500,000 priceless items in the Powerhouse Museum collections and deserve to see them professionally displayed in a prize-winning heritage building.
Marina Garlick, Balmain

The Minns government is in the rare position of making a decision that basically rectifies a disastrous situation, is approved by an overwhelming majority of stakeholders, and saves a quarter of a million dollars of public funds. Given a few more wise decisions at this stage, the outcome will be wonderful. The fulminations of Damien Trudehope cannot not conceal the gross mismanagement of the whole project over the years. It has been dysfunctional, financially wasteful, and has done a lot of harm to our reputation as a cultured, democratic society. So let us all take part in the task of salvage and proper rejuvenation.
Tom Lockley, Pyrmont (original text)

Congratulations to the NSW government for scrapping the $500 million rebuild, instead opting for a much cheaper “heritage revitalisation” of our beloved Ultimo museum. Redirecting the savings towards schools and hospitals is also a very positive outcome. It is a fabulous result for NSW that the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo is going to be restored while the construction of the new Powerhouse Parramatta is scheduled to be completed next year. A big win for the arts in both Sydney and Parramatta. Helen Simpson, Curl Curl

The former government’s plans for the Powerhouse Museum were more about property development and less about what is good for the people of NSW and the Powerhouse Museum. I am glad that the government put a stop to the plans. It is a pity that during the whole long-running debacle regarding the so-called moving of the Powerhouse Museum that we lost a piece of heritage in Parramatta, i.e. Willow Grove, supposedly in storage to be later rebuilt.
Leigh Howlett, Lewisham

Fabulous news to hear John Graham, Minister for Arts has listened to community and museum experts and scrapped pulling down Ultimo Powerhouse Museum in favour of restoration.  “Minns government scraps rebuild of Powerhouse Museum rebuild at Ultimo.” Let’s hope he also listens to Parramatta community and the National Trust and cans the ridiculous and unsupported plan from the Berejiklian government to build a $7m replica of the demolished 1890s WillowGrove villa. Suzette Meade, North Parramatta Residents Action  Group [original draft]

It took nine years of intense lobbying by many and a change of government. A big thank you to all. Just a personal plea. Please do not shift, even temporarily, the Boulton & Watt Steam Engine, preserve the LOCO 1 train set and let the Catalina Flying Boat hang in piece from the roof of the Boiler Hall. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills (unpublished)

31 August, 2023
‘Tassie skills on show’
Hobart Mercury
Tasmanian visitors to the huge exhibition 1001 Remarkable Objects at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney will be chuffed to see two pieces of furniture by well-known local artist designers on show, a cabinet by Hobart-based Patrick Hall and a cupboard painted by Evandale artist Michael McWilliams. The exhibition, the biggest ever staged at the Powerhouse, is scheduled to run until the end of December. The show is set to break attendance records with over 800 visitors attending the spectacular opening last weekend. Leo Schofield, Potts Point, Sydney, NSW

28 August, 2023
‘Back to the future’
The Australian (in Last Post)
Leo Schofield has returned the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo back to its cherished glory with ‘1001 Remarkable Objects’. It’s time for the Minns government to go back in time to secure a strong museum future.  Suzette Meade, Toongabbie, NSW
Original letter submission: The return of the Powerhouse museum exhibitions we love by former MAAS trustee Leo Schofield AM (with actual museum experience) has returned the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo back to its cherished glory.  It’s only highlighted what we all know, there’s only one thing that needs to go and it’s not the Wran building. [“Unveiled today : 1001 Remarkable Objects at Powerhouse “ 26/27 August]. Over the last 5 years we have seen the sad disembodiment of this popular family institution by an out of touch government and its contracted cheer squad.  It’s time for the Minns government to go back in time to secure a strong museum future.  Suzette Meade, Toongabbie, NSW

29 July, 2023
‘Powerhouse compromise for the people’
Sydney Morning Herald
By halting the demolition of the Ultimo Powerhouse and saving $100 million, the NSW government would be doing much more than saving money (“Powerhouse compromise could halt demolition, save $100m”, July 28). One of the delights of visiting Sydney from regional NSW is visiting the amazing Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo. Thousands of students from regional NSW travel to Sydney for excursions to visit cultural icons such as the Opera House, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Gallery of NSW and the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo.
The Powerhouse is top of the list for most students and teachers as it appeals to such a wide range of ages and abilities with its interesting, informative displays. It is a world-class museum that is easily accessible to regional students once they are in central Sydney. Closing it for years and moving the vast majority of the objects to Parramatta would deny many thousands of people the pleasure that the Powerhouse has provided and continues to provide for people from various walks of life.
Fix the roof, get rid of the mould and get rid of those who would wreck a valuable cultural and educational icon. Martine Moran, Gunnedah

26 July, 2023
‘Blame pollies for heritage decline’
Sydney Morning Herald
The obvious decline of heritage management over the past decade relates to government agendas, both state and federal (Letters, July 24). Funding and influence have been consistently reduced to render the heritage authorities ineffective, their work compromised by staff with inadequate skills or resources. One is aware of thoughtful and well-designed proposals to heritage buildings and sites being inappropriately assessed by individuals lacking detailed experience in design, architecture, planning and construction. Our evolving cities face constant pressures for change. Properly administered, heritage is a key tool in resolving acceptable change, but it needs the ability to do this, ably supported by a coherent and trusted planning system. Howard Tanner, Queens Park

The current “pile-on” over NSW Heritage misses the point. It wasn’t a group of committed public servants who betrayed our heritage – they simply served the government of the day, as is required of them. They did so in an environment of inadequate budgets and expensive, highly disruptive and demoralising restructures. Whether it was Windsor Bridge, the Powerhouse Museum or the Sirius building, the government ignored tens of thousands of concerned NSW residents who individually and collectively turned up in their thousands at rallies to object to the government’s actions. Ministers instruct government employees. It is the politicians who need to be explicitly held to account for government failures. Kate Mackaness, Windsor

25 July, 2023
‘Coalition bulldozed heritage’
Sydney Morning Herald
No one should be surprised at the lack of protection of heritage assets in NSW (“Heritage watchdog’s database in woeful state”, July 24). The previous NSW government, with its thinly disguised contempt of all things heritage, made it a mission to eradicate any historic building or structure that was in the way of its ill-conceived and unwanted pet projects. A lot of damage has been done: Windsor Bridge, Willow Grove, Royal Oak Hotel, Parramatta Park and more. The current government needs to act swiftly to prevent further damage and protect our precious heritage assets. Bob Edgar, Westmead

Thank you so much, the Herald, for exposing how bad the care of heritage has been in NSW for years. So now surely something will happen. What is left of old Parramatta might survive, perhaps the Powerhouse will survive as the world-class museum it was, perhaps Sydney Living Museums might get back on track and look after the state’s most important domestic buildings, including the historic towns on the Hawkesbury River. The NSW Coalition government was a disgrace when it came to heritage. Clive Lucas, Neutral Bay

The NSW Auditor-General’s findings are a timely and sobering read. This dire situation is no surprise to all who have fought for years for the state heritage listing of the Powerhouse Museum. In fact, the 2022 Robertson & Hindmarsh report, Architectural Heritage of the Last Quarter of the 20th Century, commissioned at the request of the Heritage Council, recommends its listing. However, the nomination of the museum has been constantly “deferred” for more than two years by the Heritage Council. Meanwhile, the previous government’s plans for the demolition and destruction of this much-loved museum are still in play. Minister Penny Sharpe should ensure that members of the Heritage Council have professional expertise and knowledge in the field. The people’s museum, one of NSW’s four foundational cultural institutions, deserves better. Jennifer Sanders, Russell Lea

23 June, 2023
‘Climate keeps rival a step ahead despite sunny solstice’
The Australian (unpublished)
Tell ’em they’re dreamin….of course Melbourne is ahead of Sydney on arts and culture. (Climate keeps rival a step ahead despite sunny solstice, June 22).  Melbourne doesn’t destroy its museums or trash its heritage in a hollow pursuit of government decreed creative precincts. Melbourne is mature enough and smart enough to present a rich sweep of cultural offerings. From renowned museums and knock out art galleries with cycles of international blockbuster exhibitions, to working industrial sites and grungy, vibrant laneways to contemporary art and cool, sophisticated design – all are intrinsic to the city’s sophisticated character and vibe.
Sydney is crass – government steals the people’s historic sites – Willow Grove – the Powerhouse Museum – and spends millions to confect ‘cultural destinations’ which are really yet more knock down rebuilds at great expense masquerading as culture – or is that kultcha?’Jennifer Sanders, Russell Lea, NSW

22 June, 2023
‘Genuine time’
Sydney Morning Herald
Two years ago, an enormous outpouring of community turned up before the sun had risen to block all three entrances to the $1 billion plus Parramatta Powerhouse “convention centre” site to try to protect 1890s Willow Grove after the NSW government sent in a demolition crew. If Chris Minns wants to leave Melbourne eating his dust (“Climate keeps rival a step ahead despite sunny solstice”, June 22) then he must scrap this unpopular “place making” approach ripping down our proud city and instead embrace “place keeping”. The most popular tourist sites around the world are places to celebrate the human story. Time to be genuine, not gauche. Suzette Meade, Toongabbie

17 June, 2023
‘Powerhouse power’
Sydney Morning Herald
Good luck to the Public Service Association and the Health Workers Union in stopping the ludicrous revamping of Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum (‘‘Unions fight to save old Powerhouse’’, June 16). Unfortunately, numerous letters to the Herald have not (yet) convinced Premier Chris Minns to spend the extravagant budget elsewhere, but hopefully these two unions’ please will.
Margot Vaccari,

 18 May, 20
‘Put a stop to Parramatta Powerhouse move’
Sydney Morning Herald
When, in November 2014, the then-premier announced that the mighty Powerhouse Museum would be moved to Parramatta, the whole idea was so ridiculous that no one took it seriously (“Firm decisions crucial to future of Powerhouse”, May 17). Five minutes of serious consideration would have indicated that it was a disaster, financially, culturally and in terms of the destruction of heritage. The previous government never acknowledged this and constantly supported this ridiculous idea through the whole gamut of non-democratic processes – secrecy, false reporting of public input, equivocation, misleading information and also by completely ignoring the input of experts in the field. These are not partisan assertions: they are proven matters of fact.
Because the evidence is already clear on all these matters, it should be a matter of a day’s investigation to conclude that the whole process must be stopped now and the best possible salvage operation should be commenced. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

‘Sadly, your editorial  (“Firm decisions crucial to future of Powerhouse”, May 17) parrots previous NSW Arts Ministers, who proved ignorant historically and architecturally. The 1988, purpose-designed, award winning Wran additions are precisely right to show the Powerhouse Museum’s great industrial heritage like the Boulton and Watt beam engine and the Number 1 loco and train. All are industrial artefacts, crafted from iron and steel, core parts of the Industrial Revolution. The next scientific and design revolutions solving future challenges require (green) steel. Right now Mr Forrest and others are working on green hydrogen to assist in making that happen. Korea? What is ridiculous is your Editor’s wanton ignorance. Lapdog? More ridiculous yet: how can Government take a decision without seeing a more creative but less costly solution than the currently proposed  brick slug, reminiscent of the ‘sandcrawler’ of Star Wars? Dr Lindsay Sharp, Foxground (unpublished)

13 May, 2023
‘Powerhouse Tragedy’
Sydney Morning Herald
While the Powerhouse is shut down for three years, the planned demolition of the Wran building that will destroy the Powerhouse Museum of Science, Technology and Applied Arts will take place (Letters, May 12). Already, the removal of the museum’s collection to Castle Hill has caused its deterioration and the proposed distribution of rare examples of the Industrial Revolution to various other institutions will be the final death knell.
It is a tragedy that the public will no longer have access to this unique museum established in the 19th century, showcasing our British heritage, our colonial past and our multicultural present. This is not a makeover: it is the destruction of a precious cultural resource. Darani Lewers, Seaforth

Will the same people who did the risk assessment for Willow Grove be the same who assess the dismantling of the Boulton and Watt steam engine? Todd Hillsley, Homebush

12 May, 2023
‘Powerhouse just needs TLC, not an absurd upgrade’
Sydney Morning Herald
A powerful, faceless lobby group will not give up on its aim to convert what was a world-class museum into a conglomerate of conflicting outcomes (“Powerhouse set to shut for three years”, May 11). No government can allow a still-working museum to be closed for three years. After nine years of planned neglect, the current museum just needs some TLC. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

A generation of NSW children continue to miss out on the experience of a hands-on design and technology museum. The image of lone technology objects in a giant white space reflects a gallery approach to museology, which is depressing. I was head of collection management until five years ago and can confirm the politicised decision-making which had been occurring. The Museum was fit for purpose for multiple British Museum and V&A exhibitions, which have the highest international standards for loans. Upgrading the air conditioning will cost less than destroying the iconic Wran building and closing this much-loved museum. Judith Coombes, Lilyfield

The latest fantasies for the Powerhouse Museum prove that the Steam Age is not really over – because I have steam coming out of my ears! Dismantle the 1785 Boulton and Watt engine? The Locomotive No 1 and the Catalina could be crated up and transported to a regional gallery “if we can find a location”, says Lisa Havilah. It’s a wonder they haven’t thought of reassembling Willow Grove out on North Head and putting these priceless treasures there. I suggest museologist Lindsay Sharp be co-opted to carry out a risk assessment on the members of the brigade who keep coming up with these simply priceless absurdities. Cuppa anyone? The kettle’s boiling. Kent Mayo, Uralla

In my prime when Town Hall Square was “conceived”, I’ll be pushing up daisies by the time it’s born – if it’s born. And what a blow to Sydney’s revival. For all its faults, the previous state government proved NSW could do more than sit on its hands and wait for Godot; so keep the Powerhouse powering along and open Woolies Square. Peter Farmer, Northbridge

4 May, 2023
‘Heritage listing the Powerhouse Museum’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Thanks to Linda Morris (‘Second report casts doubt on Powerhouse demolition plans’, 2 May) for bringing the report by Roberson & Hindmarsh to public attention. The whole of the Powerhouse Museum should have been heritage listed in 2020, including the 1988 Wran Building and the Harwood Building, which housed the electric trams that were the rationale for building the power station. The Heritage Council’s declaration that the award-winning Wran Building ‘impacted the visibility of the Power House’ is a nonsense. Without Neville Wran’s decision to create the museum, there would be no Power House, as it would have been demolished years ago. The current proposal to replace it with a large, ugly brick building would ensure that even more of the original Power House would be rendered invisible. That project must be stopped, and Alan Croker must be invited to complete his Conservation Management Plan. Debbie Rudder, Maroubra

When, in November 2014, the then Premier announced that he intended to demolish the Powerhouse Museum, no one took him seriously. The economics were appalling, and no one thought that this award-winning building was under threat. The National Trust (NSW) itself requested that the museum should be listed, but this application lay untouched for over two years. Then eventually a listing appeared: it was for the original buildings only, leaving the Government clear to demolish the 1988 additions. The principal reason given was that the museum as such had ‘local significance only’. The massive protests, from museum experts, from the arts community, from organisations such as the International Commission on Monuments and Sites, and, most of all, from the general public indicate that THE Powerhouse MUSEUM has great significance for this nation. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont (unpublished)

‘Heinous Heritage Heretics’
Unsurprisingly, the consultancy firm [Curio Projects] hired by the former Berejiklian government to report on the low heritage significance of the now demolished WillowGrove in Parramatta, has also been hired to do the same for the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo. Is it any wonder the mastermind of this cultural chaos, former Heritage and Arts Minister Don Harwin also appointed the CEO of the same consultancy firm to the State Heritage Register Committee. It’s time for the Minns government to clean house. Suzette Meade, Toongabbie (unpublished)

I think it is patently clear from reviews and correspondence that NSW politicians and bureaucrats alike need to think carefully about their knowledge (or lack of it) and competence in making decisions about museums when they have certainly not demonstrated that they are clear in their thinking about exactly what a museum is and does.   And if this irks them, then they should be willing to write an opinion piece in SMH and/or elsewhere to clarify for the rest of us  where their decisions are misinterpreted.  Maybe if they had to spell it out for us they would be forced to listen to opinions other than ones which fit the audience/revenue criteria. Jane Burns AM, Randwick (unpublished)

29 April, 2023
The Sydney Morning Herald
‘Lauded Powerhouse merits best treatment on heritage’
The minister is right to call in the Ultimo Museum project report by heritage consultant Alan Croker (“Hidden report puts $500m project under a cloud”, April 27). The Powerhouse Museum was a Neville Wran-inspired bicentenary project, significant in itself. The opening in 1988 hugely revitalised public interest in things technological and Wran should be thanked and remembered for that. The project, rightly, won the 1988 Sir John Sulman medal for a state building of excellence, particularly noting the adaptation of an old power generator to an educational drawcard. This award is not made lightly and is not given every year. The Powerhouse was and is considered exceptional as a landmark standard for adaptive reuse. It is not understandable that the NSW Heritage Council considers the building was not of state heritage significance.
This needs a public explanation and let’s hope Arts Minister John Graham makes public all the information. Les Reedman, Cooranbong

In 2014, premier Mike Baird received and accepted advice that demolishing the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo and recreating it in Parramatta was a win-win scenario. On July 4, 2020, the government announced that the Powerhouse Museum would remain in Ultimo. This was greeted with great joy. It quickly turned into false hope.
A vast amount of money was allocated to convert the museum into something entirely different. Sham public consultations were conducted and as the election loomed, a frantic effort was made to make their plans non-reversible. This government must do what is in the best interest of the public and not allow past bad decisions and faceless bureaucrats to rule. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

With public interest in the Powerhouse Museum (Letters, April 28), mention ought to be made of the heritage importance of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and its northern approaches at Milsons Point, the site of a proposed linear bike ramp, under consideration by the Heritage Council. I hope the new state government will take an interest and not write it off as a folly of the previous government. It is still possible, with enlightened leadership, to provide rideable step-free access without destroying the heritage features of the area. Ian Curdie, Lavender Bay

28 April, 2023
‘Heritage Debacle’
Sydney Morning Herald
Neville Wran was perhaps NSW’s most significant premier in the 20th century (“Hidden report puts $500m project under a cloud”, April 27). The Powerhouse Museum is a potent lasting reminder of his many significant environmental, social, human rights, constitutional and electoral reforms. It is shameful Lionel Glendenning’s clever, sensitive conversion of Sydney’s first power station should be thoughtlessly abandoned to desperate postmodern revisionism, drawing attention to the very worst disingenuous heritage subterfuge. Philip Drew, Annandale

26 April, 2023
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
In 2016, the last time you published a letter of mine, I described the museum board as a ‘ship of fools’. Sadly, folly has increased exponentially since then. The article by Linda Morris on the Conservation Management Plan (CMP) commissioned from a leading heritage architect, Alan Croker, by Government is a case in point. In Budget Estimates last year, our now Minister for the Arts correctly asked a senior Public Servant if they had commissioned more than one CMP. The unequivocal answer was, in effect, ‘no’ to an observer…
Question: ‘Why were two conservation management plans commissioned?’
Answer: ‘There’s only one that was commissioned’.
Now it appears that Mr Croker was commissioned, along with another entity later on, to research and write a CMP and was paid more than $80,000 for it. One imagines his contract and the accompanying letter would confirm that? This, to long suffering voters who can only afford to ‘eat or heat’, is not chump change. To make matters worse it appears that this report somehow got ‘lost’ in the system. The fact that it was apparently ‘deep-sixed’ because the (Create/Destroy) regime didn’t like Mr Croker’s fundamental recommendation that the entire 1988 PHM was worthy of heritage listing- a view completely endorsed in the Robertson and Hindmarsh report- indicates that both Government and the Heritage Council seem to have deliberately and egregiously covered up this finding…If not, please explain? Dr Lindsay Sharp, Foxground

24 April, 2023
‘Power Out’
The Australian newspaper (with extra original text)
Henry Ergas has captured perfectly the intrinsic inanity of the Powerhouse Museum debacle. (‘Crisis in our museums reaches far and wide’, 21/4). Museums of applied arts and sciences are lauded – indeed protected – across the developed world as permanent repositories of yesterday’s tomorrows.  Well, everywhere, that is, except NSW.
What began as a brazen landgrab by government to fund an overly ambitious infrastructure program morphed into a pseudo-altruistic ‘vision’ to share the arts with the western suburbs of Sydney.  As if this wasn’t enough, without a shred of shame, the proposal then backtracked into a disingenuous desire to ‘renew’ the Powerhouse in Ultimo by removing its central premise – applied arts and sciences – and turning into a shopping mall of fashion and contemporary art, as if there wasn’t enough of both in this city.
 With a new government in NSW, it’s time for this duplicity to stop and for the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo to be restored to its position of pre-eminence in Australia.
Dr Nicholas Pappas, NSW.  President, Board of Trustees, Powerhouse Museum 1999-2010

22 April, 2023
‘Museum crisis sees our priceless scientific heritage swept aside’
The Australian newspaper
Henry Ergas (“Crisis in museums reaches far and wide”, 21/4) highlights how nationally and internationally celebrated technological heritage and the prize-winning building created to house the Powerhouse Museum in the 1980s have fallen victim to the followers of fashion and their Ultimo Creative Industries Precinct.
The recent demolition of the PHM Transport Exhibition has already given a world-class display of incompetence and deliberate destruction that makes laughable current assurances about safely removing, storing and reinstating priceless, complex objects such as the 1785 Boulton & Watt steam engine and Locomotive No 1, the first steam train to run in NSW. The new NSW Labor government declared itself before the election determined to maintain a “world-class museum for a world-class collection” at Ultimo.
Now is the time to stop the cavalier and corrosive approach of current PHM management, with its refusal to be guided by the expertise of curators and conservators. I call on the state government to halt this vandalism and save what is left of the PHM at Ultimo. There is plenty of scope to develop a creative industries precinct without totally destroying one of the world’s great museums. David Miller, Maroubra, NSW

With compelling logic, after more than nine years of community endeavour to save the Powerhouse Museum, and evoking the highest of journalistic essay writing, Henry Ergas demonstrates the catastrophic failure of our “cultural elites” as they pursued the destruction of the much-loved, highly regarded, internationally recognised achievement of the Wran era – the legacy of the Powerhouse Museum with its industrial, social history, arts and sciences collection and distinctive architecture. It’s time to stop the destructive demolition, removal and erasure of the 143-year-old museum. Indeed, the 1988 project’s achievement was, at its core, an example of a unique melding of history, heritage, collection and architecture – an apotheosis of applied arts and applied sciences and architecture. Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea, NSW

Congratulations to Henry Ergas for shining a long overdue light on the fate of the once great Powerhouse Museum. Since the former government’s decision to “relocate” it to Parramatta, this scheme has been beset with controversy.
It’s time for an overhaul of the current direction of this costly project. With 143 years of history, the museum’s amazing legacy calls for a refreshing 2lst century interpretation.
Andrew Grant, Northbridge, NSW

The magisterial article by Henry Ergas is entirely accurate: Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum is at the last gasp prior to destruction. As facts emerge- with more on the way- it is increasingly urgent that the Minister for the Arts and the Minister for Heritage take firm, evidence-based action. In nearly fifty years of museological practice I have not seen such secretive, ill-advised, fiscally and culturally unjustified projects. In my professional opinion – while completely supporting major investment in the cultural and community life of Western Sydney- this current regime demonstrates deeply sub-optimal ability. As Mr Ergas says, futuristic Applied Arts and Sciences- and the museum’s world-class collections- can together stimulate innovative, sustainable, family-focused, challenging and exciting new exhibitions within restored, fit-for-purpose buildings, dating from 1988 and before. At much less cost, reinterpreting those majestic objects loved by the public. Time for a root and branch approach to current follies?
Dr Lindsay Sharp, NSW (Founding Director, Powerhouse Museum) (unpublished)

Henry Ergas’s article, (Crisis in museums reaches far and wide), is a clarion call for all who value our history, culture and knowledge. The Powerhouse Museum is being trashed – all the 1988 Museum being demolished as well as the 1898 Engine House leaving only external brick walls of the Ultimo Power House. Why the wildly expensive, extensive destruction – the dissolution of the unique marriage of the Museum’s amazing collection of arts, sciences and industry on exhibition in the impressive architecture and industrial heritage of the Powerhouse Museum? Yet again, the current fad for a vacuous infrastructure project is trumpeted as a cultural boon but the opposite is happening. Our culture, our heritage – the foundation for our society to understand the past, embracing the future, is deemed irrelevant in this shallow, throwaway, me-focused, screen obsessed world. No civilised society destroys a museum. Jennifer Sanders, Russell Lea, NSW (unpublished)

Thank you Henry Ergas for telling us exactly what is happening at the Powerhouse Museum (‘Crisis in our museums reaches far and wide’, 21 April). For too long the wannabe ‘creatives’ and their taxpayer-funded faux Medicis have cut a swathe through our cultural landscape, sweeping aside important objects, ideas and stories, ignorant of the deep creativity of scientists, engineers and those committed to a craft. It is not too late to steer the museum back to its mission of collecting and explaining the history and current expression of that immense creativity, thereby inspiring generations of young visitors to set their sights high above mere fashion and vacuous fun.  Debbie Rudder, Maroubra (unpublished)

14 April, 2023
Re: The Design Issue,  in The Australian
I know we live in a dystopian world but your paper’s constant reference to the Parramatta ‘Powerhouse’ is ridiculous Orwellian double speak as there is no ‘Powerhouse’ within cooee of what will essentially be an entertainment venue.
Indeed the NSW Government’s Minister for the Arts has said as much stating that Powerhouse Parramatta deserves its own name and identity. Perhaps the people of Parramatta could have a say at long last?
Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea: Architect of the real Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, Sydney

27 March, 2023
‘Morrisson, Berejiklian can share blame for Liberals’
Sydney Morning Herald
It appears voters couldn’t overlook the icare scandal, the transport debacles, the wall raising of Warragamba Dam, the destruction of Willow Grove, the Powerhouse Museum shambles, the parlous state of public schools and hospitals, the Penrith Stadium rebuild, the dubious overseas trade appointments et cetera. Indeed, NSW does need a fresh start.
Rhonda Seymour, Castle Hill

Labor must terminate the Powerhouse Museum culture wars that Mike Baird started in 2014. We can only hope that the relentless downgrading of the museum will cease and restoration work can now start on a museum that once had recognition around the world.
Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

Now that he’s won, can somebody please take Minns aside and explain to him that taxing people who need to move is indefensible. Perrottet was on to something when he proposed offering housing buyers the choice between an upfront stamp duty and an annual payment.
And while he is at it, Minns needs to get serious about gambling reform, and to save the Powerhouse at Ultimo. These things would make him worthy of re-election in four years’ time. Nicholas Reid, Hughes, ACT

19 February, 2023
‘Powerhouse Philistines’
The Sun Herald
The ill-considered change in the name of the Powerhouse Museum is yet another nail in the coffin of an excellent and much-loved institution (‘‘What’s in a name? Powerhouse drops the ‘‘m’’ from its title’’, February 12). It is also eye-wateringly expensive. It is ludicrous for the name ‘‘Powerhouse’’ to apply to all three facilities. Neither the ‘‘Milk Crate’’ at Parramatta nor the Inaccessible Discovery Centre at Castle Hill have any connection with a powerhouse. In Ultimo, only the shell of the former Powerhouse building will remain with no supporting exhibits. This is cultural vandalism by a government of Philistines and the opposition is no better. Future generations will mourn the loss of a once-great institution, and present ones should deplore the ongoing waste of taxpayer money on this travesty. Marina Garlick, Balmain

So now the truth is out: the NSW Liberals just do not want a museum in Ultimo. They want a fashion show, or a theatre, or perhaps just some more cheap apartments. It is a shame, for as Sydney grows, what the people will need are more museums, not fewer. More scientific institutions that ask hard questions about climate change and overpopulation. More technological museums that talk about Australian discoveries and innovations, and ask why we are building things overseas. More educators that ask hard questions about who we are and where we are going. Can’t think why the outgoing government wouldn’t want that.
Allan Kreuiter, Roseville

11 February, 2023
‘Powerhouse Museum and Cadmans Cottage’
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
The coincidence in today’s SMH of relevant references to policy decisions on The Powerhouse Museum and on Cadman’s Cottage prompts me to write to implore some people in authority to wake up to their responsibility to be properly informed before creating ‘new’ agencies such as the ridiculously titled Place Management within the NSW Government management.  Politicians who look for quick fixes to put lots of unrelated problems in one box need to be held to account when later their predictions go pear shaped.   I repeat: they should wake up to their responsibilities. Jane Burns AM, Randwick

10 February, 2023
‘More detail needed from Minns and Labor ahead of poll’
Sydney Morning Herald
When it was announced in 2014 that the Powerhouse would move to Parramatta, the premier at the time claimed the sale of the Ultimo site would pay for a museum to ‘‘rival the Smithsonian’’, with money left over (‘‘‘Not like running a school tuckshop’: Perrottet, Minns clash in first debate’’, smh.com.au, February 9). This was soon proved to be ridiculous, but the government is determined to carry it through regardless. This appalling situation would not have occurred if there had been reasonable financial oversight at the beginning. The finance minister at the time was Dominic Perrottet. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

27 January, 2023
‘Liberal delivery list’
Sydney Morning Herald
Your digital correspondent claims “the current Liberal dynasty has delivered more than any state government in history”. It depends what you call “delivering” (Digital view, January 26). They leased the profitable Land Titles Registry, letting profits go elsewhere. They’ve sold billions worth of public assets including important heritage buildings, removing public amenity but helping a few. They’ve delivered another batch of unaffordable tolls. They’ve delivered poverty wages for public servants. They’ve delivered faulty trains, light rail, and ferries. They’ve handed over Barangaroo to gambling spivs and the high-rise industry. They’ve ruined the Powerhouse Museum in the view of many. One of their premiers expected us to just accept that pork-barrelling is the order of the day. Yes, I suppose you could say they’ve delivered. Peter Thompson, Grenfell

26 January 2023
‘Museums better off’
Sydney Morning Herald
The leadership problems at Museums of History NSW are no surprise (“Leadership strife grips new museums body”, January 25). The third CEO at Sydney Living Museums in 10 years has departed the position at short notice and unexplained circumstances. In 10 years, visitor numbers plummeted, opening hours dramatically declined, 8000 members were lost, millions in bequests withdrawn, a vigorous public and publications program wilted. In the same period, the organisation spent huge amounts rebranding itself with two new and different names, and bizarrely, merged with State Records. The most expert and experienced staff in historic place management in the country left, costing the taxpayer millions in redundancy payments. The government has no one to blame but itself for this appalling mismanagement. Hubris, self-congratulations and cronyism are no substitute for knowledge, skill and experience.
Thankfully the newly appointed interim CEO has stated that he will avoid “dumbing it down – that kind of Disney-fication you see around the world”. He has shown at the State Library how, in the right hands, popular appeal and deep knowledge can make happy bedfellows. Peter Watts, Lilyfield

1 January, 2023
(Save the Powerhouse community group; email letter)
Branch Secretary Brian Yao reports that at its December branch meeting, the Pyrmont/Ultimo branch of the Labor Party voted unanimously for the reversal of the proposed “renewal” of the Powerhouse Museum.
The motion http://tiny.cc/qgr2vz, proposed by Bill d’Anthes, “calls on the Labor Leader of the Opposition, Chris Minns and the Shadow Arts Minister, John Graham to pledge that when elected to Government (in March 2023) to review and reverse the decisions leading to the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo being dismantled…”, that “the Powerhouse at Ultimo must be retained in its current form as a Museum of Technological Sciences and Engineering…” and that the Powerhouse collection currently in storage in Castle Hill should be completely returned.
Wishing all Powerhouse supporters everywhere a happy New Year and renewed determination to continue the battle!

22 December, 2022
‘Look for treasures in a museum, not a view’
Sydney Morning Herald
“A building or a place for the keeping, exhibition, and study of objects of scientific, artistic and historical interest”, is how the Macquarie Dictionary describes a museum (“Paul Keating doesn’t own Barangaroo”, December 21). The current NSW government does not appear to like museums and except, for perhaps the Australian Museum, has done everything to get rid of them or turn them into entertaining spaces with views.
Views seem to be more important than places to show treasures. The Powerhouse collection has been put into storage, the Historic Houses Trust’s various museums are mostly locked up and there is now a proposal to squeeze the proposed Aboriginal museum into the small Museum of Sydney.
Even the addition to the art gallery is not a museum, it is a place for entertaining with fine views. It would seem they don’t want the museum put in the Cutaway under the Barangaroo headland because it has no view. I have visited museums all over the world and none relies on views, they are in internal spaces. Clive Lucas, Neutral Bay

15 December, 2022
‘Broken promise’
Sydney Morning Herald
In July 2020, the government announced that the Powerhouse Museum would be saved (Letters, December 14). This has turned into a major broken promise. We are now faced with the complete transformation of the Ultimo site. The only memory to remain of the Powerhouse Museum will be the empty shell of the Powerhouse itself and the old post office. Missing in action, the Wran & Harwood Buildings. The three amigos, the Boulton & Watt steam engine, LOCO 1 and the Catalina flying boat will be retained for political reasons. They have zero relevance in a Design & Fashion Museum and must not be allowed to become a freak show. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

14 December, 2022
‘Going down hill’
Sydney Morning Herald
Lionel Glendenning is irate his enlightened 1988 design for the Powerhouse Museum will be desecrated (Letters, December 12). Your correspondent needs to understand the halcyon days of architecture are over, at least around Darling Harbour. Glendenning’s articulate IMAX has now been replaced by a fat blob while across the water the glass vaulted Festival Markets is being erased for soulless high-rise apartments. Sydney is definitely on a downhill slide. Ian Ferrier, Paddington

13 December, 2022
Powerhouse architect critical of Ultimo ‘deathstar’
Sydney Morning Herald
If half a billion dollars is the answer, then the wrong question has led to diabolical consequences in the destruction of the Powerhouse Museum (“Powerhouse reveals new horizons, new opening”, December 12). Eight years of sustained community protests to save their beloved Powerhouse Museum have been swept aside.
God help Ultimo: A “Star Wars sandcrawler” has come to a standstill, looming over Harris Street, a veneer of brickwork on an overwrought concrete frame. If this is the best design, the other efforts must have been appalling.
Token museum objects “lost in space” with bemused visitors wandering aimlessly in volumes with no reference to their industrial past – or any curatorial storyline. But, of course, it’s the “object as art” isolated from its contextual history.
This is the gutless destruction of award-winning architecture in an orgy of unnecessary overdevelopment on Harris Street – hang the carbon expense. The “death star” of the Empire Strikes Back at hapless Ultimo and the people’s museum – the Powerhouse Museum – to be obliterated.
Lionel Glendenning, 1988 Powerhouse Museum architect, Russell Lea

29 November, 2022

‘Powering Down’
Sydney Morning Herald
There is no point in debating Powerhouse Museum figures (“Sharks help win bigger bite of visitor figures”, November 28). The museum will close its doors next year and will re-emerge in a few years’ time as a commercial/entertainment hub that includes a design and fashion museum. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

22 November, 2022
‘Misleading museums’
Sydney Morning Herald
The Museums of History NSW should come with a product disclosure statement (“Indigenous flotilla to mark Opera House’s half-century”, November 21). It is a misleading name for small group of historic houses and heritage places, all but one in Sydney, opportunistically repackaged with the former State Archives. The real museums of history in NSW are the more than 330 community museums and historical societies in villages, towns and cities. For decades, these unsung cultural institutions, managed by volunteers, have done the real work of collecting and interpreting NSW history. The $240,000 spent on rebranding the misnamed Museums of History NSW is three times the $80,000 in funding the state government allocates for volunteer museums. After nearly 12 years of a cultural spendathon, two contemporary art museums in the city, and the looming $500million demolition of the Powerhouse Museum, where is the plan to support the real museums of NSW history?  Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

21 November, 2022
‘Don’t close the Powerhouse’
(Letter to Powerhouse Museum Alliance webpage)
I have read much of the body of your statements in regard to the closing & moving of the Powerhouse Museum and I’m in full agreement with you. At a recent National Trust photography  exhibition, it was pointed out that Australia would be the first developed country to demolish an architecturally designed & significant historic museum that is only 31 years old – what a stinging indictment of Sydney’s values!
When my children were younger, our family were all members, and over the years have seen many fantastic exhibitions such as Star Wars, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and later such things as the Fashion Awards, costume jewellery and too many to mention. We always enjoyed being in this unique space and fantastic location, a mandatory destination every school holidays.
The last time I went this year, I thought it was closed, a horrible empty shell of a place with barely anyone wandering around and no wonder as there was practically nothing to see – this wonderfilled museum had been gutted. I was so shocked and saddened! Please don’t give up & let the State government sell out Sydney’s culture and heritage to greedy developers!
Sasha Tracey, Springwood, Blue Mountains

29 October, 2022
‘No credit on carbon’
Sydney Morning Herald (with edited statements included)
If the government was serious about reducing carbon emissions from its infrastructure developments it could start by cancelling the wasteful $500 million demolition of the Powerhouse Museum (‘Zero-emission zones to be created across Sydney’, October 28). This multi-award winning museum was built just 34 years ago. It was designed with state-of-the-art facilities for a working life of 100 years. The government promised museum renewal, but instead all trace of the 1988 Powerhouse Museum is set for demolition. [The museum’s co-located collection centre is also being decommissioned. A huge new store at Castle Hill is set to take the planes, trains and automobiles evicted from their majestic exhibition spaces in the PHM. The end result will be a smaller museum with half the current exhibition space, diminished access to the collection, and thousands of tons of unnecessary carbon emissions. Still the government says this ridiculous scheme is sustainable.] There is something deeply wrong with the way the government is destroying Sydney’s heritage when entirely fit for purpose buildings can be renewed for a fraction of the cost to taxpayers, and with far lower carbon emissions. Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

10 October, 2022
‘Hope for Heritage’
Sydney Morning Herald
There is a glimmer of hope for Sydney’s heritage (“Minister topples towering proposal”, October 8) following weeks of disturbing news stories about development proposals and government decisions that will result in further loss and destruction of historic sites and buildings, including compromising one of our oldest museums. Oh, that Barangaroo could remain as the low rise, green space I thought was promised. An easily overlooked line, “He moved from a city rich in history – Cleopatra, Caesar, Alexander the Great – to suburban Melbourne” (“Rock star, Marxist and religious revolutionary”, October 8), reveals perhaps the commonly held view that Australia has no history to value. The “difficult adjustment” spoken of in that article might be that we need yet to open our eyes to see, learn about and appreciate our unique Australian history, Indigenous, built and natural. We should not give in to those who tell us we need to offset the costs of preserving heritage by, for example, stabbing the foundations of a high rise through the middle of a heritage-listed building. Sue Frost, Newport

9 October, 2022
‘Parramatta no Powerhouse’
Sydney Morning Herald
Not only does the new museum planned for Parramatta appear to be an event centre masquerading as a museum (“More event centre than museum: report”, October 2), it has also adopted an alias and in the process stolen a distinguished identity. It is not the Powerhouse Museum; that institution, however emasculated it may be in the future, still stands proudly in Ultimo. Phil Rodwell, Redfern

8 October, 2022
‘Broken home’
Sydney Morning Herald
Sorry to say that like Humpty Dumpty who sat on a wall, Willow Grove will never be put back together again (Letters, October 7). Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

Waiting to hear when Willow Grove will be rebuilt will probably take as long as waiting for the National Parks and Wildlife Service to remove the temporary COVID fees charged to camp in the vast majority of parks. Michael McFadyen, Kareela

 7 October, 2022
‘Lost heritage’
Sydney Morning Herald
Any update on when the NSW government plans to reassemble Parramatta’s heritage-listed Willow Grove? Martin Frohlich, Adamstown Heights

27 September 2022
Out of esteem’
Sydney Morning Herald
Transport Minister David Elliott is right when he waxes lyrical about the majesty of Locomotive 3801 under steam (“A ticket to ride on one Aussie icon as it crosses another”, September 26). But good luck to Ajay Negi and his plans to study steam engineering. Elliott’s government is full steam ahead dismantling and scattering the Powerhouse, one of the world’s great industrial heritage museums. What of the museum’s 1785 Boulton and Watt engine and the landmark Steam Revolution exhibition, both run on live steam? Meanwhile, the museum’s signature transport exhibition of trains, planes, automobiles and much more is being disappeared for frock parades and parties. The Powerhouse is being erased, never to be experienced by kids like Ajay again. Debbie Rudder, Maroubra

Those old enough to remember the era of steam trains may feel differently to the enthusiasts of today. Sticking your head out the window meant risking a face covered with gritty soot. Men who worked as stokers had the back-breaking task of feeding the hungry beast. But the passage of time somehow turns negatives into nostalgia.Joan Brown, Orange

26 September 2022
‘A true Powerhouse’
Sydney Morning Herald
I was standing in the Powerhouse Museum (Letters, September 24) watching a demo of the Bolton and Watt engine once, and an English gentleman said to me, “I’m from Leeds University and we don’t have one of these.” He was highly incensed. Marcia Horvai, Pennant Hills

I join the chorus of derision about Arts Minister Franklin’s $500m destructive plan dedicated to fashion and design in place of the much-loved Powerhouse Museum (‘Once great museum is being destroyed’, letters, 24 September). Instead, he should fund long overdue maintenance, reverse the alarming attrition of expert collections staff, redevelop the Museum’s renowned exhibitions and reinstate the Harwood Building’s essential facilities.  In short, renew the Powerhouse Museum as promised on 4 July 2020 – all for half the cost. Andrew Grant, Northbridge: former Senior Curator Transport, Powerhouse Museum (unpublished)

24 September, 2022
‘Once great museum is being destroyed’
Sydney Morning Herald
Since 1988 more than 22 million visitors have delighted in and cherished the experiences of the Powerhouse Museum (“University joins forces with Powerhouse in landmark deal”, September 23). The museum was an award-winning world leader in interactive, immersive and engaging experiences, all the while maintaining best museum practice. Its online collection access was leading the world well before the muddled access now offered by this deeply confused organisation. The Powerhouse Museum is not saved – it is being dismantled and destroyed. Jennifer Sanders, Russell Lea; former deputy director Powerhouse Museum

Vale the Powerhouse Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. It should now be known as the Powerhouse of Design and Fashion. Can somebody please explain to me why the Boulton and Watt steam engine, Loco 1, minus its historic carriages, and the Catalina flying boat need to remain as a permanent reminder of the destruction of a once world-class museum? Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

Someone needs to inform Arts Minister Ben Franklin that the Powerhouse Museum was never “big square rooms full of glass cabinets”. Over many years as a primary school teacher, I accompanied hundreds of schoolkids on exhilarating excursions to Sydney and the Powerhouse was always a feature of the hectic itinerary. I shudder at the thought of the scenario now. “What’ll we see there, Mr Mayo?” “Frocks, kids.” I imagine the collective whispered reaction might be something that sounds like “frocks”. Kent Mayo, Uralla

For readers that don’t speak government press release. Ben Franklin, Arts Minister, on the future of Powerhouse Ultimo, says that “the days of museums having boring exhibits is a thing of the past”. Translation: “More room for fashion parades and after-5 functions.” And the heritage destroying Powerhouse Parramatta is to get only seven exhibits a year. In comparison, Ultimo used to have 45 exhibitions a year. Now, lots of time and space for it to be a function centre for the remainder of the year.  Suzette Meade, Toongabbie

It would seem that the fashion elites have won the battle of the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo over the myriad families and school groups who still throng the traditional technological displays with the glories of the Boulton and Watt beam engine. The fashionistas may have the ear of the politicians, though I doubt their displays will attract the attendances the technological items still attract despite decades of insufficient support. Peter Wotton, Pyrmont

 8 September, 2022
‘Developer windfall leaves us without a Science and Technology Museum for 2-3 years’
Sydney Morning Herald
Two things stand out from the latest announced NSW Government plans to close the magnificent Ultimo Powerhouse Museum for at least 2-3  years (SMH article 8/9/22 “Plans power ahead in Ultimo, power down in Parramatta”). First is the thoughtless readiness to deprive Sydney of access to any form of a Science and Technology Museum for at least 2-3 years. Second is the haste to lock in a design decision prior to the State election next year — in a clear attempt to allow the airspace above the current forecourt to be exploited by developers to build a multi-storey annex on it, and to re-develop the Harwood building..
This land grab trounces a remarkable and sympathetic award-winning and timeless existant design by architect Lionel Glendenning, and I believe is one of the main subtexts driving the original ill-conceived decision to ruin the Ultimo Powerhouse, and behind the current outrageous proposal to deprive Sydney of access to a Science and Technology Museum for upward of 2-3 years.
We all could have had two magnificent Powerhouses in Sydney without absolutely ruining the Ultimo Museum in the process. Extremely galling when one realises the greedy commercial decision behind its proposed ruination. Dr Chris Roberts, Lilyfield (not published)

1 September, 2022
‘Museum Piece’
To solve the Elgin Marbles issue, relocate them to the new Powerhouse Museum at Parramatta, on the basis that the advocates of this bizarre venture have clearly lost their marbles (Letters, August 31). Kent Mayo, Uralla

22 August, 2022
‘Comments on exhibition’
(Sent to Powerhouse Museum Alliance)
This morning I went to the Powerhouse Museum to see an exhibition regarding eucalyptus trees, entitled ‘Eucalyptusdom’. It is a wide-ranging display of exhibits relating to the historical, cultural and industrial meanings and uses of members of the Eucalyptus family for both First Nations and post-colonial people. This morning was the first time I’d been to the Powerhouse this year, and it was very sad to see it in such a reduced state. ‘The entrance’ was hardly an entrance, just a door into a large dark space with one steam locomotive in the distance and a single staff member asking where I wanted to go and indicating ‘you can get a map there’, waving vaguely into the distance.  She then showed me a very inconspicuous entry point to the exhibition. My first unsettling impression was how very dark it was.  If I looked towards a large display case I could not make out where the other end of it was, and if I would be able to walk around it.  I could not see if I would run into anything if I kept walking.  This was a dominant feature of my time in the exhibition – groping my way around, hoping not to fall.   I thought how young children could be frightened and reluctant to go into such a dark space.  As if to confirm this, a grandmother with a small child, about 3, told me he had drawn back and not wanted to go in, for not only was it dark, there were ‘strange sounds’ (rustling of leaves, a choir faintly singing).
The exhibition itself was informative, evocative and interesting, when you weren’t challenged by the difficulty of getting around it and actually being able to see the exhibits and read the notices.  There were some beautiful woodwork and ceramic pieces, a few dresses designed to be in keeping with the themes.  The large notices in the display cases were both poetic and informative; people can judge for themselves whether they were pretentious or in keeping with the purposes of the exhibition.
So much research and thought must have gone into curating the exhibition, it is a pity its presentation was so ‘viewer-unfriendly’.  It was often difficult to work out which notice related to which exhibit, and some notices didn’t seem to relate to anything.  The perhaps a half a dozen or so people who were there at the same time were obviously interested but had the same difficulty peering to read the notices and see the exhibits in the dark. I progressively gave my feedback calmly and courteously to a nice young woman who said she was relaying my comments to the curators.  As I was about to leave, another staff member appeared and told me I could have picked up a ‘Large Print Guide’ to the notices from somewhere.  ‘ Somewhere’  was nowhere in sight.  A bit late for me at that  stage, anyhow.  But if you are thinking of going – it closes at the end of next week – you could ask about the Guide.  And I’d like to know what others think.
As for the goat track to and from the light rail stop, past old buildings, up and down flights of steps and poorly maintained, narrow and steep footpaths, it added to the sense of trepidation which was the hallmark of my outing this morning.  I am now told it’s best to get out at the ITAC stop, but the tram announcement is that you get off for the Powerhouse Museum at Paddy’s Market. Leone Huntsman, Pyrmont.

21 August 2022
‘Capital overlooks Indigenous culture’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Sydney will never become the nation’s culture capital without a world-class national centre for Indigenous culture and art (“Move over Melbourne: Sydney’s push to be nation’s culture capital”, August 14). Infrastructure NSW identified a national Indigenous centre as a priority in 2016 and still first nation’s people are being ignored and sidelined in their quest to establish one. An Aboriginal cultural centre at The Cutaway at Central Barangaroo has been rejected in favour of the establishment of a “premier events facility”. Another proposed centre, a building identified as an Indigenous culture centre in the original Blackwattle Bay project, has been inexplicably deleted without comment in the revised plan currently being exhibited. Local Aboriginal ancestors lived their lives on the shores and surrounds of Sydney Harbour. Barangaroo Central and Blackwattle Bay both present a wonderful opportunity to preserve and present the oldest living culture in the world – a place developed in consultation with Aboriginal people, staffed and governed by them, a keeping place to preserve cultural artefacts and showcase arts, dance, storytelling and events to all Australians, and indeed the world. Adrienne Tunnicliffe, Pyrmont

‘Sydney CBD already has a unique cultural icon in the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo.’
There’s nothing comparable to this threatened gem in Melbourne or anywhere else. It doesn’t need redesigning, rebranding, or reimagining itself as a “fashion hub”. The building and the collection it houses work in perfect harmony. All it needs is some decent ongoing funding. Could the NSW government take the money it’s about to waste on the Ultimo rebuild and build a high school on the Pyrmont-Ultimo peninsula? Then the area will have a school and a great museum for the kids to hang out in after school and on weekends. Linda Newton, Ultimo

19 August, 2022
‘Indigenous cultural centre’
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
After the biggest cultural infrastructure spend in generations why is it so hard for the NSW government commit to an Indigenous cultural centre in the Cutaway that reflects the aspirations of First Nations people? (“State dumps plan for Indigenous centre”, August 19) The government has spent $380 million at Walsh Bay, but can’t find in its tiny policy heart the will to support an Indigenous cultural centre. It is condescending to presume the Museum of Sydney can be rejigged for Indigenous culture. This is a museum designed to interpret the First Government House site. It is hard to think of a less appropriate place to celebrate Indigenous culture than the museum that marks the site of European power and occupation. Is this cultural debacle about control or money? If it’s money the government could always use some of the wasteful $500 million it is blowing on the unnecessary demolition and development of the former Powerhouse Museum.  Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

5 August, 2022
‘Planning woes are rife’
Sydney Morning Herald
Most would give a sigh of relief on reading your article (“Landmark exhibition uncovers the Sydney we’ll never see”, August 4). However, it would be foolish to imagine that planning abominations are not still taking place throughout Sydney.
The nexus between the state government and developers is alive and well. It’s “let it rip” for developers (equals lucrative profits) and infrastructure money for the state (equals a chance to forever proclaim new “initiatives”). The state has worked assiduously to amalgamate councils and to set up developer-friendly rules in the form of Local Environment Plans, all for developers and their own gain. The result has been a proliferation of soulless enclaves and mediocrity. Sydney has become a city determined not by how its people want to live in respect of their environment and heritage, but by a hungry horde of developers. David Catchlove, Newport

‘Powerhouse debacle’
I share the objections of the majority of submissions, and your correspondent, that the current planning DA is the destruction of Ultimo’s Powerhouse Museum (Letters, August 4). I spent almost two years with others in a now apparent faux consultation process, laughably misnamed a “masterplanning dialogue”, attempting to advise the government to simply renew the Powerhouse Museum, as then treasurer Dominic Perrottet and arts minister Don Harwin promised the people of NSW on July 4, 2020. After all, it was the people’s love and respect for one of Australia’s leading museums which saved it from the government’s wrecking ball.
Instead, a secret DA is revealed to be an abomination costing an eye-watering $500m to smash any semblance of the extraordinary, internationally recognised Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo for 142 years. The Powerhouse Museum can be renewed as promised for half that amount but the government is not listening. Lionel Glendenning, design architect, Powerhouse Museum

4 August, 2022
‘Reject the premise’
Sydney Morning Herald
As one of the many who have opposed the destruction of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, I have noted a few comments from people of like opinion (“Six of 104 support museum concept”, August 3). There is a growing reluctance to make a submission because in the past the fundamental objections to the whole project have been ignored. No discussion is reported regarding the basic idea. Reports only deal with details of the implementation of the government’s plans. And there is a strong feeling that continuing to be involved in the “consultation” acknowledges that the few autocratic decision makers have a right to destroy this building, its collections and reputation, and our engagement legitimises their actions. It is not the private property of this small group: it belongs to the public, and it is long past time that our voices should be heard. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

13 July, 2022
‘Curb the cash splash’

Sydney Morning Herald
Your correspondent (Letters, July 12) has thrown out a challenge to readers to identify government projects that should be scrapped. Top of the list should be the plan to turn the Ultimo Powerhouse into a glorified function centre, with a few items of clothing scattered among the huge, early industrial innovations that are too big to move to Parramatta – at an estimated cost of $450-$500 million. This represents a huge opportunity cost to the people of NSW, who desperately need more funds invested in the health and educations systems, public housing and carbon emissions reduction strategies. The architect who gave us this prize-winning institution has estimated the existing structures could be brought back to life as a museum displaying old and new technological innovations, located in the heart of the government’s much trumpeted “Innovation Corridor”, for an estimated $250 million. Sharing the top of the list of scrapped projects should be the plans to construct another function centre branded as a museum on the flood-affected site in Parramatta, while the former heritage Female Factory is crying out for refurbishment as a museum displaying items relevant to the people of western Sydney, who oppose the imposition of the relocated Powerhouse on this unsuitable riverside site. Elizabeth Elenius, Pyrmont

2 July, 2022
‘Don’t forget Lismore’
Sydney Morning Herald
I think few people in NSW would begrudge losing the upgrade to the Powerhouse Museum (“Powerhouse Ultimo renovation goes to new heights”, June 27) if the money were redirected to flood mitigation and assistance for the people of Lismore and flood-ravaged areas. Lyndsay White, South Grafton

28 June, 2022
‘Powerhouse refit a $500m waste’
Sydney Morning Herald
Can I assume from the spokesperson’s long-winded response to being asked if any buildings would be demolished (“Powerhouse Ultimo renovation goes to new heights”, June 27) that what he or she was really saying was “probably”? Richard Tainsh, Potts Point

The people at Create NSW must know that the Powerhouse Museum was the inspiration for Tate Modern and many other adaptations of industrial heritage buildings for cultural purposes.
It is shocking that Create NSW and the MAAS trust, leading a museum that purports to care about architecture and design, is intent on erasing all trace of the Sulman award-winning architecture and adaptation. Instead of “museum renewal”, the people of NSW are getting renewal of the government’s 2018 development agenda for the Powerhouse Museum’s assets, at a staggering cost of $500 million to demolish a museum that is just 33 years old. After seven and a half years of battling to save the Powerhouse, taxpayers will be funding a wasteful, destructive, policy-free museum infrastructure project, once again made without considering options and without the benefit of a museum strategy. No wonder they slid the news out while the community was fretting about jobs for the boys and a $25million flagpole. Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

What is hidden in this proposal is that the current operating museum will be shut down for some years. The current exhibits will be removed, some permanently. When it reopens, it will be touted as a design and fashion museum. A museum can become famous by what and how it exhibits inside, not how it looks on the outside. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

28 June, 2022
‘Powerhouse Museum heritage manipulations’
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
The Powerhouse Museum is being disappeared with the connivance of government entities falling into line with former minister Harwin’s creative precinct ‘visions’ and lyric theatre follies. When Harwin was Minister for Heritage as well as Arts, the Heritage Council shut down consideration of the National Trust’s nomination of the Museum for State heritage listing. Instead, Heritage NSW commissioned an expert study “Architectural Heritage of NSW of the Last Quarter of the Twentieth Century’, the brief including a justified listing of 30 – 35 places that are likely to be of State heritage significance.
Recently released in response to public requests, the Powerhouse Museum is on the list. Typically, two Appendices detailing the reasons the Museum is likely to be of State heritage significance have been witheld, reserved for internal Heritage NSW uses – mothballing no doubt.
So the conservation management plan’s heritage assessment produced for the $500m development project on the Museum’s home, is way off piste with its heritage remarks. Jennifer Sanders, Russell Lea

27 June, 2022
Powerhouse Ultimo renewal goes to new heights
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
Ref: (“Powerhouse Ultimo renovation goes to new heights”, June 27). On 4 July 2020 then Treasurer Perrottet and former Arts Minister Harwin announced that ‘Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum..will continue to welcome visitors to its world renowned exhibits..’ and that the existing Ultimo Museum will complement the new future focused Parramatta facility. Then ensued two years of faux public consultations and demolition of family favourite exhibitions like the magnificent Transport Hall. The secret machine of government planning ground on ignoring public calls for the Powerhouse Museum they know and love to be restored and empowered to its former glory. Instead, Harwin’s big idea of the ‘Ultimo Creative Precinct focused on fashion and design, rose again as the driver for the expenditure of a cool $500m. Half that amount would see the Powerhouse Museum renewed and open to its family audiences, way before the 2027 ‘completion date’ for the $500m folly. As to heritage significance, a study commissioned by Heritage NSW “Architectural Heritage of the Last Quarter of the 20thc” was recently released after public requests. This lists the Powerhouse Museum as “likely to be of state heritage significance”. Typically two Appendices detailing the reasons for the Museum and 32 other NSW places and sites to be listed are ‘reserved for internal Heritage NSW uses.’ Mothballing no doubt.
Stop the rabid overdevelopment and morphing of the people’s Museum into another contemporary arts precinct and renew the Powerhouse as promised 2 years ago. Jennifer Sanders, Russell Lea

2 May, 2022
‘Parramatta heritage a pile of junk’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Whoever doubted that Willow Grove would suffer such an ignominious fate (“National Trust withdraws from talks to relocate historic villa”, April 30)? Despite best efforts of the community, backed by a procession of heritage experts, to preserve and celebrate Willow Grove in its original location in Phillip Street, it ends up as a poorly stored, poorly catalogued pile of second-hand junk. Sensitive dismantling and relocation was always a lie. Heritage in Parramatta takes another blow while this state government steams ahead with its mission to turn this cradle city into a highrise, windswept, sunless, soulless wasteland. Bob Edgar, Westmead

With the demolition of Willow Grove and the proposal to build a 57-storey skyscraper immediately beside the single-storey historic Perth House in George Street, as well as a similar skyscraper beside St John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta is all but destroyed. It is a tragic and sad situation. I am an architect who has devoted his whole career to preserving the nation’s built heritage. It seems it was in vain. Clive Lucas, Neutral Bay

25 April, 2022
Column 8, Sydney Morning Herald
The story of the steam locomotive rising from a watery grave in Seattle (C8) occasioned a panicked search for the future location of the Powerhouse Museum’s Steam Locomotive by Jeannette Tsoulos of West Pymble. “What a relief to learn it will not be joining other Powerhouse items destined for the Parramatta floodplain.”

10 March 2022
‘Powerhouse warning’
Sydney Morning Herald
I hope those people responsible for the relocation of the Powerhouse have taken notice of the fact that the Parramatta River has been in major flood for a week and totally inundated the unsuitable site for the project. Will they learn from this and cancel the whole thing, or find a better, drier location? I’m not holding my breath. John Greenway, Wentworth Falls

 4 March 2022
‘Museum flood warning’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
One of the tragedies of flooding in northern NSW has been the destruction of the Lismore Regional Gallery’s collection (“Lismore floodwaters swallow $1 million masterpiece”, March 3). Meanwhile, the building of the Powerhouse Museum continues on a floodplain in Parramatta presenting a threat to its collection as there is a high probability of it suffering a similar fate. Will commonsense prevail in light of the calamity afflicting many of our riverside communities or, in the face of the blindingly obvious, will our government’s contemptuous arrogance prevail? Nicholas Harding, Newtown

12 February 2022
Powerhouse Museum as we know it will be swept away’
(Sydney Morning Herald  – unpublished)
Anyone who looked at the advertisement in the SMH (11 February) and thought the Powerhouse Museum was saved should think again. Despite the Premier’s promise in July 2020, the museum as we know it will be swept away, the collections cleared out, its great volumes punctured by thoroughfares, and its historic museum mission abandoned so the building can be turned into an arts centre. No more Powerhouse Museum, it’s Powerhouse Ultimo, an utterly wasteful museum demolition at a cost of $500 million. And there is still no museum plan for NSW, or museum investment in major cities like Penrith, Campbelltown, Wollongong and Gosford. No wonder the state’s finances are a train wreck. Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

11 January, 2022
‘Heritage vandals’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
The relocation of the Powerhouse Museum is already enough of a fiasco without plonking a ferry into the muddle (Letters, January 10). No, Baragoola and the South Steyne should be conserved, restored and moored at the Maritime Museum, but don’t expect any flicker of interest from the heritage vandals aka the NSW government. Far better to take the hat around and go tapping on the shiny windows of the harbourside mansions, all rightly proud of their splendid views. They can chip in to enable all us plebs to enjoy just two little cherished pieces of the harbour’s colourful history, long into the future.  Kent Mayo, Uralla

Letter writers concerned about the non-preservation of harbour vessels need only think of Willow Grove in Parramatta as an example of the NSW government’s attitude to history. Gladys Berejiklian was happy to demolish this graceful building, which had a lot of Parramatta’s history. The government couldn’t care less about history, especially if it prevents developers from making a quick buck, but it happily implements “visions” of tearing down stadiums to build bigger and shinier replacements. There’s your answer. Just don’t expect anything different from Premier Perrottet.  David Gordon, Cranebrook

3 December, 2001
‘Colonial con at Parramatta’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Is the Hyde Park Barracks a start-up hub? (“Colonial women’s prison retained as city’s next museum” 2 December) No. That would be a heritage crime. Why then is the Female Factory, the women’s equivalent of the Hyde Park Barracks, being turned into a start-up hub with the museum option coming long after the NSW Government has carved up this site of world heritage significance for offices, high rise apartments and a development deal with Sydney University?
If it’s good enough for the Hyde Park Barracks to be a museum about itself, why is women’s heritage not worthy of the same? Under cover of the Female Factory announcement, work is already underway to turn the site into offices for a tech start-up. Yesterday’s announcement was the heritage equivalent of greenwashing. Museum uses, women’s history and heritage conservation are an afterthought for development plans that are already set in concrete. This year, when the grotesque scale of sexual assault and a culture of toxic masculinity has been on painful display, it is no surprise that women’s history and heritage at Parramatta is deemed unworthy of conservation in its own right. First the demolition of Willow Grove, the dream home of the Parramatta business woman Annie Gallagher. Next the Female Factory and its cultural landscape, where women’s history might get a corner of what should have been entirely dedicated as a women’s heritage site for museum and cultural uses, set in a long over-due botanic garden for Parramatta. The reality is that women’s history still counts for nothing when it comes to development deals in Parramatta. Kylie Winkworth, Newtown.

The announcement of Sydney’s next museum showcases the pervasive obsession with colonisation that endures in the chambers of state government. Addressing cultural inequity in NSW should not be about balancing the investment in bricks and mortar between eastern and western Sydney, but rather about acknowledging a 65,000-year-old story and celebrating that cultural value across the state. While Minister Don Harwin revels in his arts portfolio, he has some way to go to catch up with his spending announcements under the Aboriginal affairs portfolio. Chris Andrew, Turramurra

‘Harwin atones for his heritage sins.’ (unpublished)
Communities campaigned Don Harwin hard for the $1 billion powerhouse project  funding to be directed to the entire heritage precinct containing Parramatta Female Factory to deliver the first ever Museum of  NSW  set in a botanic gardens.
It’s an embarrassment that women’s history only gets $53.8 million once it prostitutes half the national heritage site to a business hub for Stuart Ayres and the 20ha heritage landscape to thousands of high rise units by Sydney University.  Suzette Meade, Toongabbie

26 August, 2021
‘Tearing down history’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
I wonder what the late Jack Mundey would make of the demolition of Parramatta’s historic Willow Grove (“Lifting of Green ban seals Willow Grove fate”, August 25)? I’m certain he would be dismayed it is to be moved brick by brick following a backroom deal between the NSW government and the CFMMEU. Maria Bradley, Coogee

In the end Willow Grove went without a whimper. The indefinite COVID lockdowns, sucked the juices out of the green ban. Your correspondent Maria (Aug 25) suggests that Willow Grove will be removed brick-by-brick. My take is, if there is to be a faithful rebuild it will have to be carried out from containers filled with rubble. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills (unpublished, 27 August)

16 August, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
To be demolished by a company with unknown competence’
Re: (‘Courting disaster and a conga line of bulldozers’, 14-15 August). The very first sentence of the preamble to the Land and Environment Court judgement condemning Willow Grove states that it is not legally allowed to consider … ‘the merit of the site selected for the Powerhouse Parramatta or the design selected for the museum facility to be constructed on the site’. This is the basic problem: the whole museum ‘move’ project has been comprehensively shown to be so deeply flawed that it is a disgrace to democratic procedures. The Government has relied on secrecy, polemic and misinformation rather than giving proper information to the public whose assets and heritage are being dealt with in an irresponsible fashion.
Now, Willow Grove is to be demolished by a company with unknown competence and no previous relevant experience, and we are assured that it will be rebuilt. To maintain a last shred of credibility for this Government, we must see at this stage an assessment of a reconstruction project, made by a competent builder, experienced in this work. We are told that reconstruction will be no problem – the Kings School Chapel and Linden House historic buildings were successfully transplanted – but these are sandstone block buildings and there is no comparison with the complexity of the fragile bricks from which Willow Grove is constructed, to say nothing of the detailed interior and the lath and plaster ceilings. And we are not even taking into account the heritage relevance of this building on its present site, or the expressed desire of the Parramatta Council over many years for this site to be an open riverbank park, sorely needed among the forest of skyscrapers that is modern Parramatta. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
It is a well-known fact that a broken egg cannot be put back together again.
The reason for this is called entropy. Willow Grove is a fragile brick structure.
Initially this government had zero interest in preserving it.
It was forced to make the concession to relocate.
What is the methodology for the demolish and storage ?
Is the fox in charge of the hen house ? Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

19 July, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Whither, dear Willow Grove?’
Sadly for Parramatta’s heritage, the courts have now administered the coup de grace for Willow Grove (‘‘Willow Grove could be gone in days after court rejects appeal’’, July 17-18), the removal of which must be yet another of those ‘‘right’’ decisions Gladys Berejiklian is fond of reminding us she makes. Does the Premier’s ban on construction projects for the next fortnight apply to this deconstruction project, or will we be seeing knockdown in lockdown?
Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

You cannot take down and rebuild a building like Willow Grove without ending up with something equivalent to a poor fake. If you must move it – and certainly the government seems determined to do this – then you should roll it to somewhere on the site. I would suggest rolling it towards the river on the same alignment. Several years ago, the government did successfully roll the railway signal box at Hornsby out of the way. Clive Lucas, Neutral Bay

The appeal against the decision of the Land and Environment Court to allow the demolition of Willow Grove has been lost. The very first sentence in the decision preamble tells us why: it ‘does not consider, [and is not allowed to consider], the merit of the site selected for the Powerhouse Parramatta or the design selected for the museum facility to be constructed on the site’. In brief, a very few people within the Government and its supporters are able to take decisions in secret, which are demonstrably wasteful of very precious cultural resources and totally destructive of heritage. Ignoring the consensus of all experts in museums, and the massive public opinion of informed people, they seek to impose their will with complete disdain for democratic process. Resistance will continue! Tom Lockley, Pyrmont (unpublished)

28 June, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Moving house illogical, unlikely’
With regard to the ‘‘relocation’’ of Willow Grove (‘‘Going to pieces: Willow Grove could be stored for years’’, June 26-27), there appears to be a lot more energy and research being put into the deceit than into the execution. Surely, not even the perpetrators believe that this disgraceful conservation project will ever come to fruition? There is no new site decided, no budget, no timeline. All of this serves to highlight this government’s utter contempt for heritage and total disregard for community concerns. There is not even a site chosen for the temporary storage. No doubt a few dozen mature trees will be sacrificed in a public park for this purpose.
Bob Edgar, Westmead

David Burdon, the National Trust’s director of conservation, is right to say that the methodology of moving Willow Grove is woefully inadequate. It is. The house is plastered inside and out and has plaster ceilings, cornices etc. You can’t move plaster work, and the soft sandstock bricks will largely not survive and, above all, it will never be seen again. Decades ago Sydney was fed the same rubbish – that Edmund Blacket’s fine 1858 Bank of Australasia, on the corner of George and Jamison Streets, was to be saved. It was to be moved and re-erected. It was never seen or heard of again. Clive Lucas, Neutral Bay

The hatred of ministers towards the Willow Grove house knows no bounds. It will be deconstructed and stored until the Green Ban is lifted on the site and then the government will start a process to put it somewhere else – likely a tip. The only Willow Grove move under consideration should be moving the main house a whole 50 metres towards Wilde Ave with the outbuildings to follow in a similar manner. Between the terraces and house, a mini heritage precinct would be created on the eastern side of the street block. Peter Egan, Artarmon

23 June, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Paths crossed’
Your correspondent from the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue has totally missed the point (Letters, June 22). There is no criticism of having a Powerhouse Museum in Western Sydney; it is a great idea. The problem is that it is in the wrong place, it will destroy Willow Grove, it won’t make use of other fabulous unused heritage buildings in the area, it will reduce the Sydney Powerhouse to a shell of its former self and its costs have blown out enormously. A good idea appallingly executed. Geoff Wannan, Dawes Point

It is stunning that the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue is in Rozelle, 20 kilometres from Parramatta and only four kilometres from the Sydney CBD. Maybe WestConnex at Rozelle is the connection? Suzanne Wicks, Potts Point

I would have thought leading the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue from Vaucluse would be much more salubrious. Richard Abram, Bexley

19 June, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Willow Grove will travel’
We should be careful what we wish for (Letters, June 18). If Willow Grove remains where it is, it could theoretically be absorbed into the new museum – in the same way that grand old buildings in the CBD are gutted, their innards replaced with jutting steel and glass office blocks, hotels or highrise apartments, leaving just their sad heritage carcass displayed, like antlers on a wall, as a record of the history that’s been destroyed. It’s the kind of creepy solution the Berejiklian government would probably describe as a ‘‘win-win’’. Patrick McGrath, Potts Point

Willow Grove must be moved to make way for the new museum in Parramatta, but apparently no land can be found to relocate it. It would be a shame to knock down a modern development to make space. Can I suggest moving it to Bathurst, where we still have some historical buildings, which it would complement. Just a thought. Bruce McGarity, Bathurst

18 June, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Value of our heritage lost on the culturally shallow’
The Premier seems to believe that moving the historic house is a wonderful gift when, in fact, it is an act of vandalism (“Court approves Willow Grove’s removal”, June 17). Parramatta has lost so much heritage. I can remember when its streets were lined with heritage buildings. But no more and that is why Willow Grove is so important. No one in state government seems to understand what heritage is. They see it as something that gets in the way of progress. Everywhere in NSW, heritage is being downgraded. The Heritage Act, historic government buildings, Sydney Living Museums, our parks, our bays, everything. This must stop. Clive Lucas, Neutral Bay

There is no reason to pursue removal of historic and beautiful Willow Grove from its present site. Now that the gardens and surrounds of this historic home have been ruthlessly destroyed by the bulldozers, against community protest or approval, the house should remain on site and be architecturally included as a drawcard for the museum, possibly demonstrating technologies and exhibits of the past; after all, the Powerhouse is meant to be a museum.
Joy Paterson, Mount Annan

The good news is that after six-plus years, the great idea of handing the entire Ultimo site over to developers has been finally put to rest. The bad news is that the buildings may have been saved but the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo as the world knew it has been cancelled. The site has morphed into a fashion and design hub. Leaving behind the Boulton & Watt Steam Engine, LOCO 1 and the Catalina flying boat in a fashion and design environment will remain a stark reminder of the great injustice that took place in Ultimo. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

Willow Grove is, in itself, a museum piece. Why can’t the museum be built around that magnificent reminder of the past? Surely an imaginative architect or planner can prepare a better plan for Parramatta’s Powerhouse Museum. Alison Stewart, Waitara

The government has been responsible for some of the worst heritage destruction we’ve seen. Its “State Significant Development” infrastructure programs and relationships with private enterprise have seen off, despite the protestations of community members and experts, a multitude of meaningful, unique and heritage “protected” items such as federation homes in Haberfield, the Parramatta War Memorial Pool and Royal Oak pub, the only remaining art deco residential tower in Sydney and beautiful old figs in Randwick, to name a few.
Marie Healy, Hurlstone Park

17 June, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘If walls could talk’
For more years than my lifetime there has been a technology museum in Ultimo established as Sydney Technological Museum, later known as Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, then, after moving a little down Harris Street, Powerhouse Museum. Connections go back to Sydney’s International Exhibition in 1879 (“Avalanche of cash for Powerhouse restyling gets mixed reviews”, June 16). With all due respect, the history of the museum in Ultimo is more about science and technology than the museum at Parramatta could ever be. The former power-station building and the remaining original installations are part of our technological history. Minister for Arts, Don Harwin, please reconsider and keep the bulk of the technological exhibits in Ultimo. Peter Kahn, Coogee

So much for Chanel, Dior, Kee et al. There is another forgotten place of memory and wonder, a place of extraordinary women’s and children’s narratives: the heritage-listed Parramatta Female Factory and Institutions Precinct. How much longer is this exceptional and highly significant site (c. 1818), with its colonial buildings and rich cultural potential, going to be ignored? The Parramatta Female Factory is the earliest purposebuilt and most intact female convict site in the nation. It is an important Parramatta, state and national asset and deserves a slice of the generous “museum” pie. Enneid Halcoop, Ashfield

16 June, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘A flood of conflict’
I was at that parliamentary inquiry in 2018 (“Welcome to the parallel universe Mr Baird could not have imagined”, June 15). Mike Baird spent at least 15 minutes of precious allotted time expounding the wonderful gifts that he and his government had bestowed on NSW. When he was finally steered to the subject at hand, it was clear that community consultation had been treated with contempt and heritage preservation was not worth considering. However, he did acknowledge that the proposed Parramatta site – on the banks of the flood-prone Parramatta River – has “a water problem”. The whole fiasco was always, and remains, a thought bubble. The benefits to which Baird referred are all commercial, not cultural. Bob Edgar, Westmead

15 June, 2021
(The Daily Telegraph)
Historic significance?
I hear Don Harwin (NSW Arts Minister) is proposing historic plaques should be placed on buildings of historic significance. Maybe he should start by putting one on Willow Grove at Parramatta. Stephen Myles, Yagoona

4 June, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Building support’ (original full text)
I wish the NSW Heritage Council could explain why the 1950s MLC office building in North Sydney is worthy of state heritage listing but not the Powerhouse Museum, a revered 140 year old cultural institution in a Sulman award winning building. (“MLC Building to be heritage listed”, 3 June) Last year the Heritage Council refused to consider listing the Powerhouse Museum; nomination closed. Apparently only the brick walls of the former Ultimo Power Station are worthy of state heritage listing, not the museum itself and its nationally significant collections now at risk. Despite the announcement last July that the Powerhouse would be staying in Ultimo, the museum is still being emptied of its collections, the interiors stripped, while exhibition galleries are stacked with boxes of objects on the collection eviction list. The iconic transport exhibition where Perrottet and Harwin stood to announce the Powerhouse was saved has been half demolished, while the remaining collection was left covered in dust from demolition work. If the Government meant what it said about the Powerhouse Museum staying in Ultimo, then why won’t the Heritage Council list the whole museum site?  Or is it one set of heritage standards for private owners and another for the places the NSW Government wants to develop? Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

30 May, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
‘Powerhouse relocation: better use of funds?’
Elizabeth Farrelly (SMH May29-30) is absolutely correct. In addition the huge amounts wasted on consultants, etc, could have been used to support arts projects across the state which are all being starved of funds. Also keep in mind that the wonderful Powerhouse as it exists is a great monument to Neville Wran and his state government—one of our best ever which so admirably turned the whole Darling Harbour precinct from the wreck it was to the fantastic place it is today. Trevor Kennedy, Millers Point

30 May, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
‘Parramatta: the chickens are coming home to roost’
Parramatta is becoming Bladerunner writ large – Parrarunner most likely, in the bumbling, childlike planning ‘thought- bubbles’ – no heritage –  no sense of reality – just endless, soulless, vertical slums in windswept, shadowed, dystopian unnatural cold worlds of urban and architectural  mediocrity. (‘Sunless and soulless or the Paris of the west, Elizabeth Farrelly, 29 May) After more than six years of this absurd government financial waste and the ignoring of deeply held community and shared heritage values, the chickens are coming home to roost. Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea

20 May, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Premier no friend of the planet’
NSW voters have decided (“Labor voters want to keep Berejiklian” May 19). Apparently the following issues have all been forgiven and forgotten: climate inaction, damaging council amalgamations and grant schemes, document shredding, koala habitats, Maguire, pork barrelling pride, the Powerhouse Museum, questionable land deals, Ruby Princess, sexual harassment allegations, stadium decisions… Lorraine Hickey, Green Point.

11 May, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
‘Appropriating a museum’
The proposal by Dr Gene Sherman, arts benefactor, is to split the collections of the present Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, with one part sited in Ultimo to be devoted to a fashion museum also dealing with ceramics, jewellery, furniture, and architecture. It is an attempt to appropriate the Ultimo institution to a narrow purpose. It ignores the history of the MAAS and the nature of the collections, not that the present government respects that history and those collections. (“The Power and the Fashion: an Ultimo pitch”, 9 May 2021). The proposal is not supported by President of the Board of the Museum, the Hon Peter Collins. Why should it?
In July last year the government announced the Museum was to remain in Ultimo after all. But what was “the Museum” which was to remain? Collections now sit packed up in the Ultimo buildings without a functioning public exhibition space being available? Did the Government intend to deceive the public?
The final report of the Council’s Committee of Inquiry in February 2019 recommended against the move, supporting a new museum in Parramatta and a satellite of MAAS in western Sydney as well as substantial additional funding for the Museum in Ultimo. Cuts to the MAAS budget over the last 10 years have gutted of curatorial and programming expertise. Consultants can do it all. At vast expense. So far $20 millions of taxpayers money has been spent. Probably washed away in the floods! Des Griffin, AM FRSN, French’s Forest

10 May, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
‘More than elitist fashion for the Powerhouse’
Gene Sherman should not be allowed to determine the future of a state museum through flaunting her wealth and personal interests. (The Power and the fashion’ Linda Morris, 8 May). The largest audience sectors who visit the Powerhouse have always been families and school groups. We live in a rich and complex world. The deep interdisciplinary collections developed by the Museum over 130 years have enormous potential to excite, educate and entertain all the people of NSW. Fashion is one small slice of life – we deserve more. Judith Coombes, Lilyfield

So under Dr Sherman’s  guidance  we will have a World Class Powerhouse of design, decorative arts and fashion that will attract millions of visitors. (‘The Power and the fashion’ Linda Morris, 8 May). This may be just the excuse this government needs, to sell off the Harwood and Wran building sites in order to raise the millions it needs for Powerhouse Parramatta, the demolish and rebuild  of Willow Grove, the Taj Mahal storage facility in Castle Hill and the moving into cold storage, the capital items currently on display in Ultimo. The greatest insult to the story of the Powerhouse Museum would be to see the Catalina Flying Boat remain hanging from the roof of the boiler hall and a static 250 year old Bolton & Watt steam engine, nestled amongst a display of fashion and decorative arts. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills (unpublished)

Peter Collins is right: the Powerhouse Museum’s collection should not be stuck in silos with one-dimensional labels such as ‘science’ and ‘design’ (‘The Power and the fashion’ Linda Morris, 8 May). It is one of the world’s great collections, with many strengths and huge potential for synergy between them. It allows curators to draw together diverse objects and ideas to create exhibitions that open eyes and minds to new ways of seeing the world and understanding how it came to be. This is so much more than Sherman’s restricted vision of the museum. Think of that wonderful material, glass. Sherman would present decorative glassware at Ultimo, telescopes at the Observatory and microscopes at Parramatta, while storing the balance of a rich glass-related collection at Castle Hill. Collins, in contrast, would explore both the beauty and utility of glass, its ancient origins and modern ubiquity, how it is made and crafted, how it expands our horizons and saves lives. I applaud his response to this latest pitch to fragment the collection and destroy a Museum that merely needs a modest upgrade and a strong vision. Debbie Rudder, Maroubra (unpublished)

6 May, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
‘But we thank Matthew Mason-Cox…’
The so-called ‘move’ of the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta has been characterised by appalling neglect of due process. The Government has endeavoured to conceal this fact by a policy of obsessive, even irrational, secrecy. The well-founded judgements of the entire museum/arts community have been totally ignored. The massive forces of opposition to the project were immeasurably heartened when in April 2018 Matthew Mason-Cox crossed the floor of the Legislative Council to obtain the release of the then-current Business Case for the project. We, the people, could confirm that our Government was indeed wasting our money, demeaning our culture and trashing our heritage. The informed judgements remained negative. For his brave action, and for similar services to the cause of democracy, Mr Mason-Cox deserves the approbation of us all. (“Rebel NSW Liberal MP kicked out of party over upper house job”, 5 May) The fact that he has now been sacked from his party is a condemnation of the people who sacked him, not of Mr Mason-Cox. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

1 May, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Museum broken promise’
The new storage facility at Castle Hill will be a centre for the preservation, maintenance, conservation and care of the Powerhouse collection (‘‘Planning Minister approves Powerhouse storage centre’’, April 30). In fact, the Powerhouse Museum already has a purpose-designed storage and conservation facility on site at Ultimo, which the government promised last year would be kept. The wasteful and entirely unnecessary Castle Hill store is an insult to rural and regional communities across NSW, struggling to care for heritage collections in open sheds, and fund their museums and galleries. The development will cost more than $100 million, which is all the NSW government has spent on regional cultural infrastructure in the past 10 years. In a double blow, the eviction of the Powerhouse collections to Castle Hill puts them out of reach of regional visitors. The minister’s approval of this development shows the government has broken its promise to save the Powerhouse Museum and is still intent on ripping off the museum’s assets at huge cost to taxpayers. Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

1 May, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
‘Castle Hill museum store: latest wasteful blunder?’
The announcement by the State Government of the approval of a new facility at Castle Hill for the collections of the Powerhouse Museum (“Planning Minister approves Powerhouse storage centre”, 30 April) is the latest wasteful blunder in the State Government’s ill-conceived plan to “relocate” the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, which for over 6 years has been repeatedly beset by community outrage and well-informed objections.
And no wonder. It is no less than a politically led cultural disaster that, at this eleventh hour of decision-making behind closed doors, is poised to ultimately result in the complete destruction of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, in any recognisable form. Perhaps only the heritage building itself will survive. And what of the announcement on 4 July last year that misled the community to believe that the much-loved Powerhouse Museum would be “saved”?
To make matters worse, the “Powerhouse Parramatta” (note the omission of the key word “museum”) is also bound to disappoint after all the spin, dismissive statements and patronising reassurances from the Premier, the Arts Minister and others.  It will be no more than an events and entertainment venue with a “museum” component, bizarrely and needlessly set on a flood-prone riverbank. Andrew Grant, Northbridge, for the Powerhouse Museum Alliance

1 May, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
‘Powerhouse Storage Centre’
The relentless downgrading  of the Museum in Ultimo is continuing unabated. This new Storage Centre, “will be capable of housing aircraft, historic trains and helicopters”. The collection, “will be used and cared for on one site when not on display at Parramatta or Ultimo “.
This announcement makes all capital items currently on display in Ultimo vulnerable. Can the Minister assure the public that from time to time a 40-tonne loco with its carriages will be shipped back to Ultimo as a “temporary “ display. The reality is that the transport road between Ultimo and the Storage Centre is one way only. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

16 April, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Build the expert staffing structure and resources’
Mr Harwin as NSW Arts Minister, in replying in SMH Letters, 15 April, to art critic John McDonald’s opinion piece, did not actually answer the questions raised.  He merely parroted meaningless numbers.  If he only could understand the numbers make no sense to the general reader unless they are attached to the basic fact that if you build structures you have to also build the expert staffing structure and resources to ensure they are productive in the best meaning of that concept.  It’s pathetic that the Arts Minister seems so ill equipped to promote the viability of the arts. Jane Burns, Randwick

15 April, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Decimation of the arts’
Thank you, John McDonald, for your succinct analysis of the decimation of arts funding in this state while billions is lavished on “big ticket” items (“Harwin: a Jekyll and Hyde arts minister”, April 14). And while we’re at it, can we include the underfunding of one of the most loved green spaces in the city, the Royal Botanic Gardens. Used millions of times annually, a haven and life saver during COVID, and source of beauty, respite, history and scientific research, it’s regularly cut off from general use due to the need to raise funds through commercial interests. In 2015, $1.5 million was sliced from the budget with a loss of one in five highly qualified staff. Who knows what’s happened since. All part of the present government only knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing. Sally Irwin, Potts Point

Your coverage regarding funding to our cultural institutions is one-sided and lacks rigour. Under this government, arts and culture has never been stronger. This year alone, we will deliver nearly $600 million in support to arts and cultural institutions and in the last year we provided a $50 million COVID rescue and restart package to ensure arts companies survived the pandemic. Contrary to your article we have not cut spending to regional arts bodies. We have reallocated funds from Sydney back-office to front line regional arts organisations and we have provided a 50 per cent increase to the budget for regional touring for arts groups. We have completed 81 projects under the $100 million Regional Cultural Fund. A further 55 are underway, many of which are in non-government seats, such as the Orange Regional Art Gallery. Our nearly $2 billion of expenditure on cultural infrastructure will make this state a cultural magnet for the entire Asia-Pacific region. This is a government which takes the funding of arts and culture seriously. It is not true to suggest we are cutting back on the record levels of support.
Don Harwin,
Minister for the Arts

14 April, 2021
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Arts cuts the actions of Philistine government’
It seems that the NSW government is infested with Philistines if their plans to cut funding to the arts and culture community is anything to go by (“Major cuts flagged for museums, galleries”, April 13). It’s an absolute disgrace that they are cutting funding to these important institutions at a time when the arts community has been ravaged by the effects of COVID-19. It becomes even more galling when one considers the $700 million of taxpayers’ money that was wasted on tearing down a perfectly good football stadium. Peter C. Jones, Rathmines

The cuts just announced constitute a very shrewd and forward-looking move on the part of the NSW government. Couple that with the recent rise in university fees for the arts and in 20 years’ time society will have changed so much, no one will be interested in visiting these places any more. Good news for developers. Lorna Denham, Cardiff Heights

When one reads of the unacceptable behaviour certain members of our military are now accused of, one has to question why more than $500 million is to be spent expanding the National War Memorial in Canberra. Surely, an equal amount of money should also be found to celebrate the joy that the art world brings to the life for which these soldiers apparently went to war. Greg Vale, Kiama

Institutions like the Art Gallery of NSW, the State Library and Sydney Living Museums are not elitist. Rather they offer cheap, affordable access to a wide range of cultural and educational activities for the enjoyment of all of us, and Don Harwin – as NSW Arts Minister – ought to be doing much more to push back against these short-sighted funding cuts.
Tim Overland, Castle Hill

The arts expose the soul of a nation. When not given urgent life support, the nation risks becoming a heartless, ignorant mass. Evidently, there is money to burn in supporting the ugliness of coal fires so, in fairness, some should be diverted towards preserving the beauty to be found in art galleries and museums that are able to raise up the spirits of the nation.
Joy Cooksey, Harrington

I wish I liked roads and football and new buildings because then I wouldn’t care about the devastating funding cuts to the arts proposed for this state’s budget. But it’s totally in line with the federal government’s ongoing attack on this sector, so I shouldn’t be surprised. But I am sad. Mary Billing, Allambie Heights

Multi-million dollar cuts for the art gallery of NSW but close to a billion dollars spent on replacing a perfectly good stadium. The Huns are certainly in the castle.
Michael Turner, Culburra Beach

1 April, 2021
‘Track record’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Blowouts in infrastructure projects; council amalgamations; icare; the sale of Hunter Valley TAFE to Racing Australia; huge increases in home unit development against community wishes (“Ten years of action, refusing to take the easy option and there’s more to come”, March 31). No thought for local infrastructure, leading to public schools being overcrowded and forced into demountable, losing open space for playing. And $252 million in grants to mainly Coalition seats before the last state election, admitted by the Premier to have been pork-barrelling. A piece of land at Camellia, deemed worthless, bought for $53.5 million and now needing $116 million to clean it up. Let alone the moving of the Powerhouse Museum against community and expert advice. Dominic Perrottet tells us there is more to come. I can’t wait.  Anita Hart, Greenwich

29 March, 2021
‘White Bay, blank canvas’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
It’s to be hoped that somebody in the NSW government reads Elizabeth Farrelly’s suggestions as to the creative use of the old White Bay Power Station (“White Bay can hum but, please, not another tech-hub”, March 27-28). It would be an extraordinary asset for Sydney, and a new site for travellers and tourists, if the area became instead a hub for artistic achievement and endeavour. Those making the decisions about this iconic site should ignore developer-led blandness and turn it into something that Sydney, in decades to come, can value and enjoy. Murray McLachlan, Wyong

An inspiration for White Bay resides in Cape Town, South Africa. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art is nothing short of stunning in its conversion from industrial use to a useful form of art itself.  Robert Caraian, Crows Nest

26 March, 2021
‘Connect power dots”

Sydney Morning Herald
The magnificent White Bay powerhouse is on the planning table at last (‘‘White Bay redevelopment will be an epic battle for Sydney’s heart’’, March 25). I say seize the moment, scrap the plan to move some parts of the Powerhouse to a contentious flood-prone Parramatta site and grab the revamped White Bay location. Move the Powerhouse to the power house. Elizabeth Harrison, Springwood

25 March, 2021 (with reference to letter of 23 March and others below)
‘Dialogue moves to new footing’
The Daily Telegraph
The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue has a clear message to opponents of the Parramatta Powerhouse Museum and its location on the CBD riverbank — it’s happening. Time to move on. Further, the Dialogue believes that the Parramatta project should be just the first step in a fairer distribution of cultural assets across metropolitan Sydney, with new facilities and upgraded galleries, theatres and museums needed in Campbelltown, Bankstown, Penrith, Blacktown, Liverpool and Penrith. Historically, over 90 per cent of the State’s arts budget is spent in just one local government area, the City of Sydney, despite the fact taxpayers across the Greater West pay for these institutions and performance companies. The people of Western Sydney have been starved of arts and cultural investment for far too long. The Parramatta Powerhouse will be the great public building our region has been waiting for and when it’s all said and done, the critics will be left to wonder what all the fuss was about. Adam Leto, Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue

‘History awaits’
The Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council is the owner of the former Parramatta Correctional Centre. We are directly involved in the exciting work of delivering the NSW Government’s vision for Parramatta, driven by the Westmead Place Strategy (‘Sydney’s land of opportunity gives glimpse into our future’, 22/3). We see Parramatta North becoming a vibrant cultural, education and innovation precinct for all of Sydney. Key to this wonderful outcome is the establishment of the Powerhouse Parramatta on its riverside site. Deerubbin looks forward to partnering with the Powerhouse Museum and others. Deerubbin understands the importance and complexity of the Aboriginal story for the Powerhouse and Parramatta and is ready to assist with this worthy project. Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council

Game changer’
As a long-term resident of the City of Parramatta I am excited by the Parramatta Powerhouse. I am a member of the Residents Advisory Committee for the Powerhouse. The Powerhouse is a welcome addition to Western Sydney. We’re very happy to support the development of the Museum in Parramatta and become a cultural game changer for the region and the wider Sydney community. Warrick McLean, Epping

It’s all elemental’
Why the over-hype on the Powerhouse Parramatta site flooding (‘Letters, 23/3’)?
This issue is not unique. The Louvre is located by the Seine, in a zone prone to flooding. The Louvre has a flood-risk prevention plan. The Louvre, also like the Powerhouse, keeps the bulk of the collections off site. Both of London’s Tate galleries sit on flood-prone sites. In Australia, Queensland Art Gallery and GoMA, State Library of Queensland and Queensland Museum are all on a flood prone site and manage to deal with safe storage of collections and items and are built to withstand the elements. Andrew Overton, Greystanes

‘Jewel in the crown’
Parramatta is where I live and work. We chose to locate here to in part watch its terrific transformation. It’s great and getting greater — economically, culturally and visually. Powerhouse Parramatta, done to its full potential, will be the future jewel in its crown and we should focus on its many, many benefits, rather than some noisy side agendas. Pete Shmigel, Parramatta

‘Cultural heart’
Every city needs a cultural and relational heart. Without that the city is merely concrete and glass, board and business. Parramatta and, more broadly Western Sydney, needs the Powerhouse Museum. And our children need a place where they can imagine and dream. I’m glad that we are finally moving ahead. Rev. Canon Bruce Morrison, Parramatta

23 March, 2021
The Daily Telegraph
‘No call for museum at Parramatta’
The well-intentioned articles about the Powerhouse Museum (22 March, 2021) miss the point. Regardless of flood issues, the elected Parramatta Council before it was sacked in May 2016 was adamant that the riverside site should be kept for open space. During the tenure of the Administrator, this was ignored. Without any consultation or research, the Government decreed the move of the Ultimo Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta. It is irrelevant to Parramatta’s great history and present greatness. No informed arts or museum organisation supports the demolition of Willow Grove and the plonking down of the milk crate building in this spot. Far better alternatives are available. The absolute waste of hundreds of millions of dollars is evident, and casts serious doubts on the business acumen of the few organisations that support the idea. Parramatta deserves better. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont 

23 March, 2012
Sydney Morning Herald
‘Want to mitigate the risk? Don’t build on floodplains’
Looks like the destruction of the historic Windsor Bridge and the decimation of Thompson Square to build a higher level bridge achieved precisely nothing. Any independent study of the proposal could have predicted that, and did. Bob Edgar, Westmead

The state government is intent on ruining a historic precinct at Parramatta to build a museum that will end up partly under water. This follows its success in ruining a historic precinct at Windsor. Is this why the NSW Coalition government combined Roads with Maritime Services?  Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

22 March, 2012
Sydney Morning Herald
‘Floods and Parramatta Powerhouse’
Snorkels will need to be at the ready for future visitors if the flooding near the Parramatta Powerhouse Museum proposed site is anything to go by. Deb McPherson, Gerringong

Time to rethink this hair-brained move to Parramatta. If only the people who made this ludicrous decision would have listened to the locals who have excellent knowledge of this site.
Ruth Dickman, Pymble

Maybe the Premier should move the Maritime Museum to Parramatta. John Swanton, Coogee

12 March, 2021 (unpublished)
‘Wrong museum in wrong location’
Sydney Morning Herald
With the scrapping of the Art Bridge in Parramatta (11 March, ‘Brake on costs scuppers art bridge plans’), the Australian Museums and Galleries Association calls for a review of the future of the Powerhouse Museum. Heritage and museology should be aligned. Willow Grove is a highly valued site for women’s and community history that must be saved – and a museum should never be built on a flood plain. Judith Coombes, NSW President, Australian Museum and Galleries Association

28 February, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald
‘For history and culture, Parra matters’
The irony of the state government demolishing the unique building of cultural heritage, Willow Grove, for a modern project championing cultural heritage is gobsmacking, as Helen Pitt highlighted in her opinion piece (“The fight to save the memory-making buildings of Sydney’s second city”, February 21). I too grew up in Parramatta and was raised to cherish and respect its amazing history as the birthplace of the European settlement and agriculture. This unique history has been respected for decades by governments, the National Trust, local residents, historical associations, trade unions and religious institutions, with historic homes and public places saved from destruction and so-called development. Now living in Victoria, I champion Parramatta to friends as a place to visit for its history which is a national cultural asset, and economically, a tourism asset. It’s not a plaything for a planning minister with grandiose visions of a future city that tramples its history. Bronwynne Roberts, Warncoort (Vic)

27 February, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald
‘We’re stoked, let’s see action’
Is this the height of hypocrisy? Planning Minister Stokes on Building cities: “We’ve forgotten the history and the people”. (“Pandemic reshapes Sydney’s cityscape”, February 26). What has he got to say aboput the proposed destruction of Willow Grove and St Georges Terrace in Parramatta to make way for the new Powerhouse? Urban vandalism at its worst. Bob Sellinger, Eastwood

23 February, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald
‘Parramatta Plan B’
There is a Plan B for Willow Grove. Keep it where it belongs rather than spending a huge sum on the destructive proposal to move it brick by brick (Letters, February 22). Make it the place where museum visitors are introduced to Parramatta’s history. Retain more of St Georges Terrace than the facade and use it to welcome and debrief school groups, with rooms available for other uses outside school hours. Then demolish the office building between these two heritage sites to open up sightlines and access from Phillip St. The government gave up on this option when the owners pulled out of negotiations. But hey, the government is happy to buy up houses for facilities like carparks, so why not force the sale of this commercial building?
Debbie Rudder, Maroubra

22 February, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald
Heritage ‘trampled, demolished’
What the state government is doing to Parramatta is both appalling and hypocritical (‘‘ If we let Willow Grove go, heritage is meaningless’’ , February 20-21 ). NSW’s history is being trampled and demolished. A sophisticated society progresses without destroying its valuable past. The list of history that has been destroyed or reduced in Parramatta under this government is too long to recite. Lip service is paid to the vital role a city centre in Parramatta will provide the state, yet as the second-largest city in Sydney children do not even have a swimming pool in which to learn to swim.  Monica Kelly, North Parramatta

Elizabeth Farrelly’s lament about Willow Grove and heritage loss in North Parramatta is yet another reminder that our government is happy to sacrifice the heritage values of what is probably Australia’s oldest urban precinct on the altar of progress. Current official plans for North Parramatta show a forest of tower blocks spreading north from the river as far as Pennant Hills Road. Dozens of local heritage treasures will be impacted as will the approaches to the wonderful old Female Factory and colonial gaol. And to add acid to the wound, the official word will of course be that all these official plans have been prepared after proper public ‘‘ exhibition’ ’ and ‘‘ community consultation’’ . As Farrelly says, ‘‘ Nothing is safe’’ . So wake up Sydney. Your neighbourhood might be next. Jim Colman, Lane Cove

Farrelly makes a good argument for preservation of the Willow Grove heritage site in Parramatta. She mentions the Powerhouse Chairman Peter Collins’ lack of a plan B for an alternative site. How about the Camellia site near Parramatta? Bought by the NSW government for an inflated $53 million last year and proximate to the Parramatta river, it would regenerate the zone as opposed to the prison facilities which have been proposed against the wishes of the local residents? Emma Cotterill, Darlinghurst

On the same day that I heard that the Cabramatta home of Gough Whitlam had been purchased by a group wishing to retain just this small piece of our recent history (‘‘ Labor chiefs plan museum in Whitlam’s house’’ , February 20-21 ), I learnt that Willow Grove was to be moved from its site to allow the milk-crate Powerhouse Museum to be built. I learnt some time ago that our heritage listings meant nothing when the Sydney sandstones of the Education and Lands Departments were given up for sale and when some of the houses at The Rocks had their heritage covenant removed before sale. Kathleen Chivers, Vincentia

17 February, 2021
Daily Telegraph
‘Weeping Willow’
Arts Minister Don Harwin might wish to contemplate that community sentiment favours Willow Grove over his ghastly museum design (I am Done with this old place, 16/2). The CFMEU might wish to contemplate that power does not bestow construction knowledge.
Peter Egan, Artarmon

‘Power to the people’
Daily Telegraph
Does anybody know someone who wants a Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta, costing the people of NSW a fortune? I don’t. There are schools and hospitals that have been promised but not delivered yet, the money would be better spent building these instead.
Geoffrey Flint, Bankstown

15 February, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald
‘Shelve the museum’
What is really behind the obscene obsession of plonking a Parramatta Powerhouse on a flood prone site (“Parramatta Powerhouse given green light”, February 13-14)? The government and the “Western Sydney Powerhouse Community Alliance” are the only proponents. The Parramatta community does not want what is being presented. It is telling that a new address for Willow Grove has not been identified. Nor is there any indication of its future use. Nor any timeline. The value of Willow Grove as part of Parramatta’s heritage is in its Riverside setting in Phillip St.
Bob Edgar, Westmead

10 February, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald
‘Treasurer’s blinkered vision condemns Sydney to mediocrity’
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet exhorts the Sydney populace to “shun mediocrity in reshaping the metropolitan landscape”. This sounds like a battle cry for a more charming, distinctive, and liveable city (“It’s time to wake up sleeping beauty, says Treasurer”, February 9). Examine the detail and the truth emerges. The Treasurer identifies built heritage as one of a trifecta of issues condemning Sydney to “mediocrity”. He has waged war on our built heritage assets since coming to government. His simple equation is that heritage blocks “progress”. Progress is good. Heritage is bad. The problem is, destroying heritage comes at a price: sterilising our cities of their past creates a cultural vacuum that actually dis-incentivises economic development. It also makes these cities boring, anodyne places to live. It is not heritage, regulation and taxes that condemn us to mediocrity, it is the “vision” of politicians such as Mr Perrottet.
Kate Mackaness, Box Hill

It’s good to see the Treasurer taking an interest in planning; but is it not a bit late? The present government has made many mediocre decisions and taken no interest at all in heritage. Destroying Parramatta Park with a huge stadium and swimming pool is surely mediocre. Moving the Powerhouse Museum is mediocre. Barangaroo and Darling Harbour are mediocre. Driving from the Harbour Bridge to Glebe is a sea of mediocrity. What about the hideous convention and exhibition centres. I could go on.  Clive Lucas, Neutral Bay

5 February, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald
‘Top end of town reborn’
How refreshing for heritage, history and aesthetics to be primary considerations for city rejuvenation (“Plan to make Macquarie St a global destination”, February 4). For too long, “rejuvenation” has meant rampant high-rise development, the destruction or unsympathetic retro-fitting of beautiful old buildings and a shunning of Indigenous history and culture. Paul Keating and Lucy Turnbull’s vision to sympathetically enhance the cultural significance of one of Sydney’s most gorgeous streets to include Aboriginal, colonial and 20th century history is welcome. Alison Stewart, Riverview

A huge bravo to Paul Keating for backing this new vision for Macquarie Street. It has always seemed inappropriate that the Powerhouse Museum was trying to be all things to everybody. London’s precinct of museums divides these categories so successfully into different venues. Here is a perfect chance to let the wonderful relics of the furniture, fashion, jewellery and associated fine arts, shine and be celebrated in a building of their own. The Land Titles building is such a perfect destination for so many of the Powerhouse Museum’s hidden collections. We certainly don’t need more offices in these wonderful public buildings. Let’s hope that it does not take yet another “feasibility” study to bring this to a welcome realisation. Greg Vale, Kiama

17 January, 2021
Sun Herald
‘Powerhouse extension’
As part of the former industrial heartland of inner Sydney, White Bay power station would make an excellent adjunct to the Powerhouse Museum (‘‘Powering debate for decades’’, January 10). Why not install a selection of the artefacts held for some time in storage at Castle Hill or even consider creating a NSW version of Canberra’s Questacon? There is plenty of room and the building looks suitably archaic; perfect for displaying memories of what was once a working city before developers and blocks of flats took over. Nola Tucker, Kiama

2 January, 2021
Sydney Morning Herald
‘Premier forever in Arden’s shadow’
For premiers and prime ministers it is not a question of popularity but competence (Premier should top the pops, December 27). While Gladys Berejiklian may be competent in relation to her handling of COVID-19, we cannot forget her admitted lack of personal judgment, her claim that pork-barrelling was not illegal, and the myriad other poor decisions in relation to the koalas, the Sydney Stadium, the Powerhouse Museum move, approval of gas and other environmentally damaging projects – the list goes on. Jacinda Ardern, on the other hand, has not only demonstrated her competence in running New Zealand so that she can now govern in her own right rather than the usual coalition, but also showed great empathy during disasters such as the Christchurch massacre and the White Island disaster. I rest my case. Marina Garlick, Balmain

23 December, 2020
Ultimo-based Save the Powerhouse campaign group wrote to its many supporters by email and Facebook, saying:
‘At the end of a turbulent year like no other, “Save the Powerhouse” takes the opportunity to  recognise and thank the thousands of people who continue to support this campaign’s goals:
– to keep  the Powerhouse Museum (unchanged but re–resourced) in Ultimo, and
 – to see a new museum established in Parramatta that reflects the area’s unique history.
We also warmly thank:
– our valued associates The Powerhouse Museum Alliance (PMA), whose expert advice has been consistently timely and helpful
– MAAS volunteers who have often shared meaningful insights
– local politicians who have regularly spoken out for the cause, especially
Jamie Parker, MLA  Balmain whose constituency is ‘home’ to the Powerhouse Museum
Robert Borsak, MLC, leader of the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, and indefatigable  Chair of the ongoing two year Parliamentary Inquiry into the Government’s management of the Powerhouse project (for date of the next session see below), David Shoebridge MLC, Vice Chair of the Inquiry and Walt Secord MLC (Lab),senior, highly committed Inquiry Committee member.
– Suzette Meade and the North Parramatta Residents’ Action Group (NPRAG), active defenders of Parramatta’s heritage buildings.
– LGA President and Sydney Councillor Linda Scott.
– Leading local business personality and Powerhouse donor Trevor Kennedy.
– Media representatives, especially Linda Morris, SMH whose loyalty to the Powerhouse  remains outstanding, and Alison Hore, City Hub.
When so many NSW residents have suffered as a result of Covid 19, whether they have been, or are, ill; have lost, or are cut off from, family members and friends; or are simply lonely and afraid – it would be cynical and heartless to wish you all a “Merry Christmas.” But what we can and do wish for you is a safe, peaceful and, above all, HOPEFUL end- of -year festival.
HOPEFUL? Yes. Because there is still plenty to fight for. The Parliamentary Inquiry continues in February 2021, the Feisty CFMEU has refused to allow destruction of heritage buildings in Parramatta, and, despite unlimited Government prattle, no concrete plans to radically alter the Powerhouse have been announced.
The Powerhouse is still in Ultimo, untouched, and this campaign will redouble efforts in 2021 to make sure it stays there – with your continued help and support.

17 December, 2020
Sydney Morning Herald
‘Back to Earth’
The revelations the Parramatta Powerhouse Museum will ‘‘be like walking into another hemisphere or into the galaxy’’, and will tell ‘‘stories of the great chefs and producers of Australia’’, and have a ‘‘200 people kitchen’’ next to the garden on the roof suggests quite clearly this codswallop may be the result of a series of very, very long lunches (‘‘Plenty of space for space in Parramatta’s Powerhouse’’, December 16). Lisa Havilah and the rest of these outer space travellers should come back to Earth. Kent Mayo, Uralla

So now we have a magnificent display of the proposed Parramatta construction, but we still have never seen any evidence of research and consultation regarding the basic idea, because there was none. Experts in museums – and the protests of the arts community and the general public – have been totally ignored in its development. It remains the thought bubble of someone with no understanding of museums and no respect for democratic process. (full text) Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

28 November, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Premier disappoints with low-rent politics’
Does the Premier take us for idiots? (“Premier shrugs off ‘slush-fund’ scandal”, November 27). Her relationship with Darryl Maguire, pork-barrelling in Liberal-National seats, the Metro cost blowout, the Powerhouse debacle, her Treasurer’s icare scandal, the Camellia land acquisition and remediation cost all count against her. Words fail me. And that doesn’t happen often.
Anita Hart, Greenwich

Premier, I think you need to seriously consider your role. For example, you have demonstrated a stubbornness in not listening to citizens of the state about the Powerhouse Museum, the ovals and Parramatta’s heritage-listed buildings. You demonstrated very poor judgement in the Darryl Maguire case and now you are demonstrating through the council grants rort scandal a lack of ethics. Yes, the grants may not be illegal but the matter is definitely unethical. And that is a big problem for you. Serge Calve, Como

25 November, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald;  among other letters…)
‘Not good enough, Premier, the rules apply to all of us’
The “dodgy Daryl” affair, the about-face on koala protection and now breaking her own COVID-19 guidelines. And that’s only Gladys Berejiklian’s recent form, not even mentioning the Powerhouse Museum and light rail fiascos, football stadiums and the Ruby Princess. How much longer should the people of NSW wait before the Premier realises her time is up?
John Byrne, Randwick

 24 November, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald; unpublished)
‘Restoring what was lost would be an essential start ‘
As a relatively new volunteer at the Powerhouse Museum – only 12 years – I remember during the period, say 2008 to 2017, having very many happy and exciting days during school holidays with hundreds of family visitors engrossed in fascinating activities and journeys of discovery. I remember many hectic school term days with up to 700 school children – typically with brilliantly prepared activities designed by their teachers with museum educators’ help – getting wonderful education and having great fun in the process. This is not rear vision through rose-coloured glasses, it is fact. While I agree with Janice Creenaune’s letter of 23 November, let us not forget that restoring what was lost would be an essential start to any process of ‘rejuvenation’. We all hope that Mr Collins will be able to achieve this. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

 23 November, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Wow, you oughta see ’em’
The ‘wow effect’ Peter Collins is looking for in the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (‘‘Powerhouse boss digs deep in pursuit of the ‘wow effect’’’, November 21-22) is experienced in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC; it is seen in various successful museums throughout the world; it is seen in sections of the Australian War Memorial and it is seen in the printing/letterpress section of the Gulgong Museum. All allow working machines, interactive experiences and knowledgeable volunteers. The best museums now offer more than mere walk-throughs and basic reads. Look to the museum-going public for inspiration and advice. They know what they want, and they now expect it, too.
Janice Creenaune, Austinmer

20 November, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald; among other letters…)
‘White Bay another target for greedy wrecking crew’
Another gross error of judgment by the government(“Black day for White Bay if Perrottet gets his way”, November 19 . We have already seen the threats to the Powerhouse, Sirius and Willow Grove. The power station is suitable for adaptive reuse, like the Tate Modern in London. But to the Treasurer, it’s just another cash cow opportunity for developers. Jan Wilson, Glebe

Why do I get a feeling that the state government is being steered by sharp spivs and urgers? Now the leading characters in this continuing farce are gambolling over the power station. They smugly diminish the social worth and our city’s history by calling it a “rave cave”. This trio dismiss proposals from leading architects to restore this magnificent early 20th century industrial building and create the perfect gateway precinct to White Bay. Despite being included on the NSW Heritage Register in 2006, nothing appears to be safe from this government of tunnels and tax. Limited by imagination, short on vision. Despite their recent travails, there is an increasing arrogance to this wrecking crew. Rob Asser, Balmain

9 November, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Curriculum clue’
I’d love to see the job selection criteria (“Billionaire developer joins board of Powerhouse”, November 7-8). Peter Mahoney, Oatley

8 November, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Unfit for purpose’
The shrinking Powerhouse: let us hope this momentum continues until the whole absurd plan disappears (“New Powerhouse to be smaller, cheaper”, November 1). From a cost of $1.5 billion originally with a planetarium, two 50-storey tower blocks and all the Ultimo treasures –  if anything was not fit for purpose, this is it. Finbar O’Donoghue, Telopea

2 November, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Carp of the south’ wisely ignored
The NSW Premier and Treasurer are clearly outraged by re-elected Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk restricting Greater Sydney residents from travelling to the Sunshine State, claiming an impact on both state economies (‘‘Qld accused of playing politics over border’’, October 31–November 1). Well, Premier and Treasurer, I am outraged about your stadium fiasco; demolishing the Parramatta pool before constructing a replacement; wanting to move The Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta and destroy Willow Grove; privatising the Land Titles Office; amalgamating councils; destroying koala habitat; staff shredding documents and deleting emails pertaining to the $250 million in community grants allocated in an attempt to shore up votes in the last election; repeated reduction of resources to ICAC; botched oversight of iCare; and the long association with Daryl Maguire which continued even after his first encounter with ICAC and sacking. The confected outrage and lack of due diligence by Ms Berejiklian and Mr Perrottet is breathtaking. Rhonda Seymour, Castle Hill

‘Redesigned Parramatta Powerhouse, outcome totally compromised’
The entire notion that this is going to be a museum becomes further from the truth with each new version of propaganda that’s released. (“Redesigned Parramatta Powerhouse – smaller cheaper and more refined”, 1 November) The fact the proponent, Infrastructure NSW, sits alongside Heritage NSW in the Department of Premier and Cabinet means both are under the direct control of Premier Berejiklian. No part of this process is independent and the outcome is totally compromised.  This re-design fails to save Willow Grove, it still compromises Parramatta’s proud heritage, Council’s civic walk and river strategy design and risks human life in increasing floods. The biggest compromise is that the government is failing to deliver a museum selling out to the idea of an exhibition centre – “rooms for hire”.  A redesign isn’t enough to make this Frankenstein acceptable to the community –  this needs to go back to the drawing board completely. Suzette Meade, North Parramatta Residents Group (unpublished)

26 October, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Politics protected’
The articles by Tim Soutphommasane (‘‘Berejiklian may have let her standards drop but we can’t drop ours’’, October 24-25) and Elizabeth Farrelly (‘‘An influence-peddler’s guide to the limits of audacity’’, October 24-25) highlight problems with politics today. There is talk of a ministerial code of conduct and of ethics, but the reality is very different. Berejiklian is supported by people who say she made a silly mistake in her choice of man, but that she has been a good leader. I beg to differ. She apologised for the Ruby Princess disaster, but that won’t help the people who died. She pulled down two perfectly serviceable stadiums at great cost and wanted to move the Powerhouse Museum despite huge opposition. People complain (I have written several times) about the lack of masks on public transport, which she could make compulsory but won’t. The only way to clean up politics is to ban all lobbyists and any donations, prohibit politicians from any other work and have a strong anti-corruption group that jails the corrupt. Alex Danilov, Naremburn

24-25 October, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Archives merger is not in the public interest’
Anyone who knows anything about historic houses or archives is opposed to the state government’s proposed merger of the State Archives and the Sydney Living Museums. (“Merger to create new cultural institution approved”, October 23).
When Don Harwin was sinbinned from cabinet, it would have been a good opportunity for Gladys Berejiklian to exercise one of her famous backflips. With any luck it could have taken the public’s mind off her love life and saved two important government entities with one dive. She could have saved the important and much-admired Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace in Parramatta from destruction and vested them in the care of a renamed and revitalised Historic Houses Trust. Scott Brandon Smith, Bowral

20 October, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Daryl and the pork barrel are an insult to taxpayers’
Another ‘‘stuff up’’, Premier? (‘‘No signed approvals on $250 million in grants’’, October 19). These grants were mostly to Coalition-held seats. Honesty, integrity and fairness apparently did not figure in the decision making. Disgraceful and an insult to all those deserving communities who missed out. Denis Suttling, Newport Beach

The Premier’s crown slipped following revelations of her poor judgment over Daryl Maguire, but there was some public sympathy for her. However, the approval of more than $250 million in council grants in predominantly Coalition-held seats before the last election was not a matter of the heart ruling the head. This was a deliberate decision to underhandedly spend public money to the advantage of her party. It will irrevocably damage the trust she has won. She has told us that she has worked her guts out for the people of NSW, but it seems this work has not been done in an equitable way. No guidelines, no publicity, no application process. No wonder the public is so cynical about politics and politicians. Lyn Savage, Coogee

Hang on: Berejiklian is widely regarded as a competent manager? How can we overlook land clearing under this government? The Crown casino construction; the stadium and Powerhouse debacles; the sale of the Lands and Titles office; mining under dams; plans to raise the Warragamba Dam wall; people living through winter in caravans after losing everything in bushfires; the proliferation of brumbies in the Snowy Mountains; the decimation of native fauna and particularly the koala population; the neglect of staffing in national parks, which exacerbated the bushfire disaster; the cracking in houses near motorway constructions; hundreds of demountable classrooms and the understaffing in schools; and the freezing of emergency workers’ pay. These are all failures of this government. I’m just warming up with this list. We are so complacent. Why do we accept these failures by this government? ‘‘No compromise Gladys’’ would be a more appropriate description. Kate Broadfoot, Bulli

19 October, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘When you stuff up like this, it’s time to stand down’
Your editorial (“Premier’s future looks bleaker the more we know”, October 17-18) provides well-needed clarity to the situation in which the Premier finds herself. Imprisoned by her own words, as quoted, she can demonstrate that either she lives by the high level of integrity she espoused in the past or she can attempt to hold on to her position by continuing to legalistically claim she “did nothing wrong”. What is dumbfounding is that the Premier appears to have no insight into how her own inept action and behaviour is perceived in the community and that when you significantly “stuff up” it can be expected you will either tender your resignation or at least stand down until ongoing investigations are concluded. Ross Butler, Rodd Point

 ‘Sympathy perhaps, but please, not hagiography’
“The best premier NSW has had in living memory” doesn’t cut it with me (Letters, October 17-18). Gladys Berejiklian has been far from perfect. In her transport portfolio she timed the completion of the CBD light rail to coincide with the 2019 state election, a project period far too short considering the complexities of the construction. The dispute with the contractor cost the state – we taxpayers – half a billion dollars. Then there’s the demolition of a stadium, to be replaced with one of similar capacity, and the on-again, off-again relocation of the Powerhouse Museum. That she has managed the bushfires and pandemic so well has been possible because of excellent advice and administration from the responsible public sector agencies; something she might reflect on while depriving them of a well-deserved pay rise.  Rodney Crute, Hunters Hill

 14 October, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Premier’s poor judgment calls for her resignation’
Attention seems to be focussed on the Premier’s private life but let’s not forget her public life has been littered by a succession of “stuff-ups” that have occurred while her government is in office.
Who can forgive the stadiums fiasco, the sale of the GPO building without tender, buying trains that won’t fit through tunnels in the Blue Mountains, demolishing Parramatta’s swimming pool before building a new one, selling off wetlands in Coffs Harbour to a developer, stubbornly wanting to relocate the Powerhouse Museum (and with no business case), privatising the Land Titles Office against all advice, the ill-advised attempt to force amalgamation of councils, refusal to abandon stamp-duty in spite of almost universal advice that is inequitable, chopping down 100-year-old Moreton Bay figs along Alison Road in Randwick so race-goers wouldn’t have to cross the road, demolishing 53 heritage houses in Haberfield to build a tunnel (Westconnex) that would carry more cars, granting Newcastle Port a virtual monopoly, defunding TAFE colleges and ongoing land-clearing issues to which she seems to turn a bling eye. The list goes on. Berejiklian’s government seems to have left a sufficient trail of “stuff-ups” and poor judgment on the public record, there is no need to go looking for them in her private life. James Cryer, Castlecrag

12 October, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Don’t let value of women’s history be derided again’
Thanks to Elizabeth Farrelly (“Erasing our women of history, stone by stone and brick by brick”, October 10-11), who keeps the fight going for our heritage buildings. The Female Factory will reach a 200-year milestone next year, with potential to be a UNESCO world heritage-listed museum. What barbarians are going to destroy its history and legacy by repurposing it as a tech hub? We have so few heritage items left as this government ploughs through them all in the name of revitalisation. Ursula Bonzol, Lindfield

Elizabeth Farrelly’s article focuses on current government policy, but it is also a multi-layered piece of historical analysis. She draws on the record from the built environment at Parramatta, other records of 19th century NSW, together with the contemporary counter-play of politics, development and heritage, overlaying it all with a powerful feminist critique. We might not accept her argument that women possess special insights when it comes to heritage, but she makes a strong case here. We have only scant written accounts of the lives of thousands of women and their place in colonial society, but we can painstakingly read their stories in these buildings and spaces. The lesson from the government’s proposals for the beautiful historical precinct at Parramatta, is that present-day political priorities, even when not particularly well thought through, somehow override preservation of women’s history. It can’t be allowed to happen without protest, otherwise these women are relegated to silence all over again. And we will all be the poorer for it.  Margaret Johnston, Paddington

Willow Grove can’t be relocated and still retain its meaning, which is embedded in its riverside location (“Union commits to boycott over villa’s relocation”, October 10-11). That this ludicrous scheme, resonant of heritage practice from the 1960s, is being advanced by the minister responsible for arts, heritage and Aboriginal affairs is shameful. Why does women’s heritage count for nothing? Why can’t the community choose what kind of museum they get and where it should go? And when will we listen to the Dharug people and hear their profound objections to having their 30,000 years of living connection to this riverside site dug up and turned into dead relics for a museum showcase? Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

Western Sydney needs a museum, not a Taj Mahal. Until recently, this push for greatness involved demolishing Ultimo, Willow Grove and St George’s Terraces. Public pressure has forced this government to make compromises. Willow Grove will now be moved. Will the government guarantee that this move won’t result in an empty shell of a building constructed from a pile of heritage bricks?  Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

Is there anything more illogical or irrational than the Berejiklian government’s so-called plan to dismantle the 150-year-old bricks and timbers of Willow Grove and to rebuild on a non-specified location in North Parramatta? If this proposal itself wasn’t so ludicrous, it would be the perfect metaphor for the premier’s gung-ho shovel-ready nation building at the expense of local history.  George Zivkovic, Northmead

10 October, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Powerhouse silliness’
The latest brainwave for Parramatta’s Powerhouse Museum is to simply pick up the offending heritage building on the site and move it to North Parramatta (“Saving Willow Grove: The plan to shift historic building to North Parramatta”, October 9) It is true that some earlier structures including two churches have been moved from Parramatta to new locations in the past, but these were solid sandstone buildings able to be moved stone by stone. Perhaps those advocating this idea are forgetting that Willow Grove is a cement-rendered brick structure with plaster ceilings that cannot be moved without catastrophic damage – any “relocated” building would simply be a bad replica with the original iron veranda tacked on to add a veneer of authenticity. One would have thought that it is much easier to move the building that is still on the drawing board rather than the one that is already built. David Burdon, Conservation Director, National Trust of Australia (NSW)

10 October, 2020
‘Powerhouse punishment’
The push for the Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta proceeds, despite construction extravagance and local protests (‘Powerhouse Museum at Parramatta inches towards completion’, Online 9/10). There might be some consolation in the long-term view – the damage to Parramatta’s heritage, unleashed by an irreverent gaggle of short-sighted quick-buck politicians, will be justly averred at the March ballot box.  Alan Sexton, North Parramatta

28 September, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Playing with memory’
The state government has done a good job in saving us, but it does nothing to save the state’s heritage (“Villa’s protections lifted before site bought for museum”; “Towering monstrosities are truly height of arrogance”, September 26¬27). Willow Grove and the Glebe estate are just two examples of the trashing our heritage. But there are also Thompson Square, Windsor Bridge and the destruction of Parramatta’s heritage generally.
What about the Female Factory, the Powerhouse Museum and its magnificent collection? Surely the Female Factory could become a superb museum focused on Parramatta’s history. The government is also downplaying the role of Sydney Living Museums by making it part of the incompatible State Archive. A country without heritage is like someone without memory.
Clive Lucas, Neutral Bay

Why is Parramatta forced to choose between saving its heritage and a new museum? And why is the government intent on plonking the wrong museum on the wrong site? It can save Willow Grove and its women’s history by moving the new museum to the Fleet St precinct. That would save two women’s heritage sites of outstanding significance and create a new museum about Parramatta’s history and cultures, set in a park of extraordinary beauty and interest. This is obvious to everyone but the most obtuse in the NSW government.  Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

It looks like our politicians have re-imagined themselves as property developers. They need to return to their original purpose and draft a “legal system in our property law capable of protecting the heritage item”, not as a stop-gap until the developer with the most money comes along, but for all future generations. Helen Lewin, Tumbi Umbi

18 September, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Collection chaos’
The Minister for the Arts, the chairman of the board of the neutered Powerhouse Museum and the neophyte chief executive should hang their heads in shame at the announcement that the Trevor Kennedy collection of Australiana is headed for Canberra (“Passion project becomes treasure trove”, September 17). For years it was destined for Sydney as the bulk of the objects have special relevance to NSW. But along with many other disillusioned donors, Kennedy has been studiously ignored in the march to transform a serious, internationally respected museum into a playpen for luvvies and self-declared ”’creatives”. Leo Schofield, Potts Point

Thank you Trevor Kennedy – outstanding generosity from one of Australia’s great collectors and longstanding donors to our museums. A Life Fellow and former trustee of the Powerhouse Museum, Kennedy helped raise millions to acquire objects for the Powerhouse’s collection before its 1988 opening and, also gave significant Australiana to the Museum. The continuing uncertainty over the Powerhouse’s Museum’s future, with its Ultimo home now spruiked as a place for ‘creative industries’, means many donors are giving their prized collections to interstate and national institutions. This is one of the many destructive consequences of Baird’s 2014 thought bubble which no member of government has had the wit or cultural acumen to fix and, to instead rebuild the Powerhouse Museum to its world renowned status. The Powerhouse Museum has not been saved –  it won’t be a museum if this brainless, childish scheme goes ahead – our Museum, its history and its collection will be lost to the people of NSW and beyond. Jennifer Sanders, Russell Lea (unpublished)

7 September, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Powerful ideas’
Powerhouse director, Lisa Havilah, seeks ideas for turning the Ultimo site into a ‘‘lively cultural hub’’ (‘‘Powerhouse seeks inspiration from community’’, September 5-6). My suggestion would be to create a place which inspires and educates visitors about the wonders of science, technology and design; a well-funded jewel in Sydney’s crown interpreting our technological past, present and future. Oh, wait a minute… Tom McGinness,  Randwick

17 August, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Your correspondent asks of Gladys Berejiklian, regarding masks, ‘‘How can someone who held out for so long about the Powerhouse Museum and demolished a stadium be so weak?’’ (Letters, August 15). The answer is easy. No developer interest. Trevor Sheridan, Charmhaven

15 August, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Decision and vacillation; Jacinda Ardern and Gladys Berejiklian. How can a woman who held out for so long about the Powerhouse Museum and demolished a stadium be so weak? Just make masks mandatory. Judy Copeland, Willoughby

8 August, 2020|
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Postscript (extract)
COVID-19 comes and goes in the letters page in much the same way as it does in the community. It’s here, it’s almost gone, then, suddenly, here it is again. This week, it’s back with a vengeance. Letter writers are not in favour of it, obviously, but being against it takes many forms. First of all, everyone who comes within cooee of a COVID germ should stamp on it at once, anyone not wearing a mask in NSW … is stupid and selfish, as is anyone who thinks COVID is a hoax. Plus, please slam those borders shut, Madame Premier.
Away from disease, letter writers are furious about the way Parramatta is being treated. “Willow Grove and St George Terrace Must Stay!” is the consensus. As for the politician (oh, alright, we’ll name names) Geoff Lee saying that only 11 protests came from the area so the rest can be discounted, well! That didn’t wash at all. As Matt Petersen of Randwick says, “That would have allowed the Franklin River to be dammed, the whaling industry to continue, and the Antarctic to be mined”.

6 August, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Parramatta MP’s attitude belongs in a museum
Parramatta MP Geoff Lee appears to have missed the point (“Pressure mounts for museum redesign”, August 5). There may well be similar houses to Willow Grove in other places but not in Parramatta. In Parramatta it is the sole surviving example. As well as this, it was built for a prominent and respected Parramatta resident, Thomas Gallagher, an alderman at the time. Its architect, Sydney Moore Green, was also prominent. He was assistant Government Architect of NSW. Parramatta must respect its surviving heritage. Clive Lucas, Neutral Bay

It’s official, heritage counts for nothing in Parramatta. Geoff Lee suggests there are hundreds of similar buildings in NSW. So, if you want to see heritage don’t come to Parramatta, the cradle of modern Australia’s agriculture, industry and government. Lee appears to discount any submissions presented by non-residents of Parramatta. I presume this includes favourable submissions. Parramatta and western Sydney deserve better. These buildings will be saved.
Bob Edgar, Westmead

How typical and depressingly parochial of a Liberal MP to try to deflect concern about Parramatta’s few remaining old buildings of note by saying many submissions were from outside Parramatta. This is the same mindset that blames outsiders for local problems. As if only Parramatta residents are allowed to have an opinion about the relentless destruction of the environment, built or natural. This is about the complete failure of imagination that one expects of a developer-friendly government. Chris Costas, Carwoola

This is a nation’s heritage as well as Parramatta’s. Richard Hambly, Potts Point

If we all followed Lee’s logic, the only acceptable public complaints would be those from people who lived near the source of complaints. That would have allowed the Franklin River to be dammed, the whaling industry to continue and the Antarctic to be mined.
Matt Petersen, Randwick

Parramatta can have its cake and eat it by paying heed to suggestions for developing science and cultural centres at various vacant sites, including Cumberland Hospital and the Women’s Factory, while retaining Willow Grove and St Georges Terrace. By saying there’s a focus on the inner city for cultural budgeting and western Sydney deserves better, Lee may not appreciate the deficiency of cultural and science funding west, south and north of Greater Sydney. It’s not an us or them, it’s about sensible allocation of funding to many deserving communities.
Steve Dillon, Thirroul

Instead of destroying them, what about incorporating Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace, historical buildings and an example of that bygone era, into the new Parramatta museum? Isn’t one of the functions of any museum to show the past? Dorothy Gliksman, Cedar Brush Creek

The CFMEU’s green ban on the demolition of Parramatta’s heritage is applauded. Two of the five finalists in the design competition retained Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace, so it is possible. The winning design is architecturally sterile and would benefit from a redesign. Ian Ferrier, Paddington

From Column 8
“The proposed design for the Powerhouse Museum would make an ideal cage for a white elephant,” thinks Neil Maclean of Bowral.

31 July, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Save special space’
Your article indicated that the Harwood Building is still under threat (“Ultimo is final stop for the Powerhouse’s famous locomotive”, July 30). The Harwood Building is the former Ultimo Tram Depot. While some other Sydney tram depots still exist, Ultimo was the prototype for all of them, introducing the distinctive sawtooth roof with large skylights and open under floor area with pillars supported the rails. It has enormous heritage significance in its own right, and since 1997 has been protected by a Heritage Order.
It is a grand piece of Sydney’s industrial heritage, and its enormous open interior space makes it suitable for public activities. The NSW government needs to be sent a message to keep it intact and in public hands. Bill Bolton, St Ives

29 July, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Historic mistake’
It is “just nuts” to amalgamate archives (“Historian bemoans plan to amalgamate archives”, July 28). The Historic Houses Trust resulted from my restoration of Elizabeth Bay House in the early 1970s for the NSW government. The government had a number of historic houses which had been acquired and were all managed by different departments. I convinced the government to bring them under one department and treat them equally. With the help the National Trust it was called the Historic Houses Trust of NSW. It thrived and eventually controlled buildings outside Sydney, as well as the Hyde Park Barracks, the Mint and other buildings that were historic although not necessarily houses. As founder of the organisation I cannot understand how anyone could think they should be linked with State Archives and Records Authority. They have different charters and clearly should be separate. Clive Lucas, Neutral Bay

The state government’s plan to merge the State Archives with other institutions seems irrational and doctrinaire. It is simply an anomaly that it is the Arts Minister who is responsible because such historical and administrative records are not the arts. Support from the Opera House and the Art Gallery is irrelevant: they are arts institutions which engage in the demonstrably different activities of performances and exhibitions. Mention of the National Archives hardly strengthens the government’s case. The collection, maintenance and use of archives are critically important for understanding our past. Archives are used by historians of all sorts and their activities are scholarly, not artistic. John Carmody, Roseville

The proposal for the merger of Sydney Living Museums and State Archives and Records is as nonsensical as the proposed move of the Powerhouse. It makes no logical sense and is another example of ill-considered policy on the run. Anyone with any depth of knowledge and real understanding of the two organisations appears to oppose it. One wonders where these mad ideas come from and why they get traction. Peter Watts, Lilyfield

23 July, 2020
(The Daily Telegraph)
‘Preserve history at Parramatta’
Parramatta has a bad case of growing pains made worse by lack of ideas about how the past may be preserved as the CBD grows skyward (‘Weeping over fate of Willow’, 22/7).
It is appalling that the Government only thinks of tearing stuff down to build up. The budget ‘asterisk’ covering small contingency items easily covers relocation and preservation of buildings on the scale of Willow Grove.
As we see with the COVID-19 response, engineering has always been distrusted by governments due to fear of unrecognised capabilities in objects created, unintended consequences, and lots of silly ideas put forward by engineers. Innovation is shut out and value minimised when a long list of options is not put forward for community scrutiny before government makes a decision. Peter Egan, Artarmon

17 July, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
There are times when our state government completely baffles me and this is one of those times. The lord mayor of Parramatta wants an extra station to be built at Camellia, as he believes that it will be a significant industrial and residential growth centre in the future. The government, via Transport Minister Andrew Constance, says that it will not be built “because of contamination and flood challenges”. As far as I can tell, there are two inconsistencies with that excuse: firstly there is already a heavy rail station at Camellia and secondly, flooding challenges don’t seem to bother them when it comes to a poor imitation of a Powerhouse museum. Why does this government continue to treat us all as complete fools? Brian Pyrmont, Frenchs Forest

12 July, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Power in history’
The state government still plans to demolish Willow Grove, circa 1870, and St Georges Terrace, circa 1881, for high-rise exhibition space (‘‘Make no mistake, this is a victory for cultural life’’, July 5). Other historic buildings in Parramatta are now cheek-by-jowl with unsympathetic buildings. As Parramatta’s bland high-rise core takes shape, some of its historic buildings would be better off relocated to a nearby neighbourhood of appropriate scale and space – out of the flood zone. Peter Egan, Artarmon

I believe the majority of Sydneysiders are relieved to learn the Premier had listened to, and acted on, the many voices urging the state government to retain the Powerhouse museum at Ultimo. No need for further descriptions of ‘‘an enormous backflip’’ and ‘‘wobbles’’. Let’s all try to be gracious as we all, without exception, need to be treated as such every now and again.
Tony Moo, North Sydney

12 July, 2020
(Sunday Telegraph)
‘Truth is Power’
Premier Gladys Berejiklian is either telling fibs or consciously misleading the public on the sentiment with regards to the moving of the Powerhouse Museum. Show me one person who has said Western Sydney does not deserve a cultural institution. Why do you have to take away from one area to give to another area? Why not both have a museum? It would service more people and employ more Australians. It was mentioned early in the tender process, that some who visit the museum from Western Sydney had to travel about an hour to get to the current location. Boo hoo. From where I live I already, and always, travel for over an hour to get to the current museum location. Kim Baker, Engadine

8 July, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Museum types’
There’s been much discussion about the western suburbs being ‘‘deprived’’ of cultural or heritage sites. Hidden away in Penrith is Australia’s only fully functioning print museum – the Penrith Museum of Printing. It has been so successful it needs to find a bigger site. A print museum is ideally suited to spark interest in technology and the arts as it can be combined with other complementary ‘‘book arts’’ such as paper-making, bookbinding and typography – as other print museums are doing around the world. James Cryer, Castlecrag

7 July, 2020
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘A museum of humanity would serve many needs’
Since we are rethinking museums for NSW, what about combining various ideas (Letters, July 6)? The state could establish a world-class museum recognising the country’s Indigenous and non- Indigenous heritage, the good and the bad of its colonial history, and its contemporary cultures. It could also exhibit scientific, artistic and technological innovation, reflecting the need inherent in the now-scrapped relocation of the Powerhouse. A museum of humanity at Parramatta would be a place to study, remember, commemorate and debate the experience and aspirations of all Australia’s people. Ben Boer, Annandale

A migrant museum is a wonderful idea Clive Williams (Letters, July 6), but maybe there is already the basis for this with the Bonegilla Migrant Experience near Wodonga. The preservation of part of this migrant camp, through which more than 300,000 people passed and with which an estimated one in 20 Australians now have a connection, is the start of preserving Australia’s migrant history, like the Americans have done at Ellis Island. Ian MacDonald, Newport

Contrary to most letter writers (Letters, July 6), I suspect the backflip on the Powerhouse was driven less by the Premier listening to the people and more by the developer changing his mind. Given the collapse in the property market and the understandable reluctance of purchasers to buy off the plan, I strongly suspect that the developer, who was never named, decided it was not a good investment. This government has shown no signs in the past of listening to the people, so why would they start now? After all, the next election is a long way away.
Ron Wessel, Mount St Thomas

And, Helen Lewin (Letters, July 6), she will certainly charge more than “a dollar and a half” to see ’em! Tony Hunt, Gordon

‘Greed eclipses heritage’
Genia McCaffery asks “What is wrong with Sydney that we just keep destroying our heritage?”(Letters, July 6). Simple – money and vested interests. Glynn Stiller, Bowral

6 July, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Backflip on Powerhouse a victory for common sense’
What a relief to hear the Powerhouse Ultimo will be saved (“Powerhouse backflip”, July 4-5). I am sure both Juanita Nielsen and Jack Mundey would be pleased. In Australia, we possess relatively few substantial and iconic buildings that offer us a tangible link to history. The irony is that the Powerhouse Ultimo was built in 1898 to house the turbo generators that powered Sydney’s first and much-missed tram network. How terrible it would have been to destroy that link. Now, perhaps new exhibitions can be planned. I’d like to see an exploration of the green bans and the heroic efforts that saved so much of what we now treasure about Sydney. Ultimo’s Powerhouse Museum. Helen Gibson, Thirroul

This is a decision based on good sense, integrity and transparency. Those of us who send letters to the Herald will have been further reinforced to continue this activity with the feeling it can possibly make a difference. Louise Dolan, Birchgrove

Pity this outbreak of common sense didn’t occur before levelling the Sydney Football Stadium. Michael Berg, Randwick

It is a sign of intellectual and emotional maturity to change one’s mind. This decision should be applauded. If only all politicians were more willing to listen. Judy LeVine, Manly Vale

Has the Bere-Baro government accepted the will of the people? No, the Powerhouse is saved by COVID-19 – there simply isn’t any money for the destruction of a world-class facility and replacing it with a smaller arts centre, water features included! The Premier might have a steady hand on the pandemic but her infrastructure and heritage management are sadly off. The snail rail, with the loss of the Moore Park trees; the Windsor bridge destruction and poor replacement; and the desire to bulldoze the terraces in Parramatta for the museum. As ever, money rules. Larry Dwyer, Beacon Hill

The President of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences has clearly misjudged the public sentiment. Is it time to renew the board (“Powerhouse Parramatta bigger and better”, June 30)? Les Reedman, Cooranbong

In 2015, Mike Baird suddenly announces that the Powerhouse will close and move to Parramatta. Petitions, Upper House inquiries, floods would not make another Premier change her mind – until Friday night. The Powerhouse was to be closed down on Wednesday and is saved on Saturday. Strange. Manuela Epstein, Pyrmont

The Herald headline read: “Powerhouse backflip as Ultimo site saved by Berejiklian government”. Surely it should have read: “Berejiklian government saves itself with Powerhouse backflip on Ultimo site”? Frank Johnson, Peakhurst

What I want to know now is – where will the Premier put the tree museum?
Helen Lewin, Tumbi Umbi

A MAASive win for people power and commonsense. Lyn Savage, Coogee

Powerhouse to the people. Jenni Burgess, Westleigh

‘A chance to include and celebrate heritage sites’
Sense has prevailed with the decision that the Powerhouse at Ultimo will be retained and a new facility will be built in Parramatta. Why not continue this positive thinking and redesign the new Parramatta facility to incorporate the heritage sites at Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace? What better place to have these valuable heritage assets displayed than in a museum, specially designed around them? Joy Paterson, Mount Annan

The battle has been won, but not the war. The people of Parramatta must get the cultural facilities that celebrate the city’s special qualities, on a site democratically chosen – not the hideous transplant on scarce riverside land foisted on them. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

In whatever facility is eventually constructed, why not incorporate an immigration museum. What better place to provide one than in western Sydney, where so many migrants have settled. Clive Williams, Lavender Bay

The museum that Sydney sorely lacks is a comprehensive museum of the history of Indigenous Australians. It could be a focus for collating, extending and disseminating knowledge of the history of our amazing First Nations – before and after the invasion. Fiona Cameron, Summer Hill

It has been argued that the demolition of Parramatta’s Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace is acceptable because they are “only” of local significance. If we are serious about the sense of place and place-making, then we must protect, retain and celebrate our heritage places regardless of their level of significance. Hendry Wan, Alexandria

Peter McKeown suggests moving “the NSW Parliament to the Old Parliament House in Parramatta” (Letters, July 4). In fact, it is Old Government House, which was a residence used by the early governors of NSW. I suppose that, following meetings, MPs could retire to the drawing room for tea while those exhausted by governance could sleep in the bedrooms.
Greg Partington, Quakers Hill

‘Heritage swept away’
North Sydney Council has been given planning permission to demolish the 2000 Royal Australian Institute of Architects’ award-winning redevelopment of North Sydney pool (“Lap it up: North Sydney pool renovation given the nod despite heritage concerns”, July 4-5). This beautiful and sympathetic renovation, by esteemed Australian architect Ken Maher, is being thoughtlessly demolished after just 20 years. What is wrong with Sydney that we just keep destroying our heritage? Genia McCaffery, Waverton

6 July 2020
(Daily Telegraph)
‘Power housed with elite’
So, money, influence and the old school network triumph again (Premier to power up two museums, 4/7). What a surprise. And yet you still want to build a museum at Parramatta so it can be filled with hand-me-downs and second rate exhibits. Don’t bother. We don’t want it. We keep getting told we are all in this together. Yeah, right! Robin Arthur, North Parramatta

‘Pragmatism applauded’

As a frequent visitor to the Powerhouse Museum over the years who has enjoyed everything it has to offer, its current location is where it belongs (Premier to power up two museums, 4/7). While a new facility for Western Sydney is welcome, relocating the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta entirely and selling its present site in Ultimo which was the state government’s original intention, would have been financially inappropriate. Regrettably, the new Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta will be a very significant, unnecessary cost to taxpayers who are already finding life challenging and a waste of money, but at least the museum is here to stay in its existing location. The Berejiklian Government should be commended for its pragmatic change of mind. Thomas Carrie, Summer Hill.

5 July, 2020
(The Sunday Telegraph)
‘Win-win offer’
I am writing in response to your article that the new Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta won’t be able to fit key Australian history pieces (ST 28/6). Moving something that is already in existence is a complete waste of taxpayer’s money. Instead, why not build a new facility like Canberra’s Questacon and put it out near the new airport? It will have rail access and can have tourists from all over Australia easily visit it for Western Sydney tourism. Plus there’s more room for parking out there for Sydneysiders too. The two locations can swap displays and there will be room for treasures across both sites. Anne-Marie Sirca, Greenwich

4-5 July, 2020
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘A flood of complaints couldn’t stop this train’:
‘No rationale behind museum’s moving parts’

Your report shows how divided Parramatta Council is on the Powerhouse issue – the mayor, a Liberal Party member, had to use his casting vote (“Council warns of Powerhouse safety risk”, July 3). The decision also rejected concerns about the safety of patrons and exhibits on site, which is subject to flooding. Since the whole project rejects the sciences of urban planning, public health and safety, the suggestion to remove the Powerhouse Museum name – which is associated with the celebration of rational applied science – is appropriate. I will offer several options when the naming competition opens. Marjorie Sutcliffe, The Rocks

At last, a win for the state government’s asset recycling program. That famous 1785 Boulton and Watt steam engine from Ultimo can be put to good use pumping out water from the flood-prone site beside the Parramatta River. Evan Bailey, Glebe

No need to change the name of the Powerhouse. It is a stunning example of the power of politicians and developers to override the clearly stated wishes of ordinary citizens.
Nedra Orme, Neutral Bay

If the Premier is so keen to give the west some cultural institutions, why not remove the NSW Parliament to the Old Parliament House in Parramatta? This would then put the Parliament into the centre of Sydney, providing easy access for all Sydneysiders. Sell off the site in Macquarie Street to a developer for millions and allow them to build a multi-storey residential block with sweeping views over the Domain, harbour and out to sea. Instead of paying out billions of dollars building a new museum, they would pocket millions. A win-win deal for all.

Clearly, nothing will budge the government from its act of cultural vandalism in replacing the Powerhouse Museum with apartments. Just as clearly, it’s not about creating a museum for western Sydney, conserving heritage buildings, or spending money wisely. Otherwise, why close Ultimo before the new site is built? This Liberal government must owe a lot of favours to a lot of people. Kristina Vingis, Church Point

Your correspondent shouldn’t be surprised at a useful and much-used facility being demolished long before its replacement is built (Letters, July 3). Think about Parramatta swimming pool: it has been two years since the Parramatta swimming centre was closed and I believe it will be another two years or so before its replacement will be functioning – if at all.
Terry Funnell, Parramatta

3 July, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Public kept in the dark over Powerhouse move’
The Premier continues to obfuscate when answering questions about the Powerhouse in Parramatta (Letters, July 2). The main objection is not so much the establishment of a cultural institution in Parramatta (we all want that) but the closure of the Powerhouse Ultimo site, the destruction of heritage buildings at both Parramatta and Ultimo and the breaking up of the existing collection into storage or into regional museums. And why is the Powerhouse in Ultimo being closed three years before the opening of its replacement? Premier, can we please get a straight answer on this. Michael Houlahan, Parramatta

The stubbornness of our Premier and the secrecy of the development of the Powerhouse’s site, makes me think a deal has already been done with developers. There is so much that is wrong with the move, including the destruction of heritage buildings in the proposed new site, that the whole thing needs independent investigation. Daniela Catalano, Haberfield

It seems the people of western Sydney don’t deserve a museum in their own right unless they participate in the destruction of the Powerhouse museum and their own heritage. The west is being blackmailed to help swing the wrecker’s ball for the government’s developer mates.
Bruce McGarity, Bathurst

The argument that western Sydney deserves a world class museum is flawed. Knocking down a world class museum and then building an inferior museum in Parramatta is not like for like, but a dumbing down of the existing facility. Those living in western Sydney should be offended at this tokenism. David Sargeant, Jannali

This is the destruction of a working popular museum for someone’s private gain. Premier, it is time to recognise our anger is not going to stop. Not in July, not in December and not at the ballot box. No new roads, or stadia, or viruses, will distract us. Recognise the facts and the science and the cost and the waste. Please stop this now while you still can.
Allan Kreuiter, Roseville

Cartoonist Cathy Wilcox perfectly illustrates the sad truth in this state; the Philistines have taken over. It seems impossible for Berejiklian to listen to anyone. Nola Tucker, Kiama

Can the NSW government please reveal who said the words ‘‘let’s move the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta’’ first and then the next lot of overpaid bozos who agreed with this bizarre idea? Michele Thomas, Mollymook Beach

Will the Premier only be remembered for her tunnel vision? Michael Britt, MacMasters Beach

The rampant land clearing that has, and is continuing to happen, was very accurately predicted before the land clearing laws were introduced in 2017 (‘‘NSW farmers clearing land at a ‘rampant’ pace’’, July 2). The government ‘‘sold’’ it as changes to biodiversity laws but all biodiversity experts flagged it as a disaster. Even the government appointed scientist working on the scheme resigned, due to the obvious lack of intent of actually protecting biodiversity. Many who cared pleaded with their politicians not to go ahead with these laws without more protection or strategies to help out endangered species. The blinkered full-steam-ahead destruction is reminiscent of the Powerhouse Museum debacle but with even more disastrous outcomes: this is our living heritage. Peggy Fisher, Killara

2 July, 2020

(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Future generations will thank us for green bans’
In the 1970s, Jack Mundey and the BLF saved The Rocks and great swathes of the inner suburb of Glebe with their green bans (‘‘Powerhouse move hit by union boycott’’, July 1). Do we look at these places today and shake our heads thinking that blocks of apartments would have looked better? Hang in there on the green bans, please; future generations will thank you.
Genevieve Milton, Newtown

Construction workers and companies in Parramatta have a clear choice – stand with the people and be part of the great Jack Mundey story, or ignore the CFMMEU’s green ban and hang your heads in shame as you topple the historic Willow Grove and terrace precincts.
Marie Healy, Hurlstone Park

I’m 70 years old so can’t do much to stop the destruction of trees, heritage buildings and animal habitats by the NSW government but it’s absolutely great to see at least one union can act to prevent the destruction of valuable buildings in Parramatta by this philistine NSW government. Let’s see if we can save the Powerhouse Museum using similar tactics.
Denise Woods
, Orange East

Premier, why would you say that those who wish to retain the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo are being selfish to western Sydney residents? The most suitable solution to all is to have two museums: retain the existing one at Ultimo and build another one at Parramatta. You have your head stuck in the sand on this one. Stephen Ramshaw, Turramurra

The Premier says Parramatta ‘‘deserves to have at least one cultural institution’’. Really, they deserve to be able to preserve their own cultural heritage. With the relocation plan including the destruction of two heritage buildings, these ideas cannot coexist. The relocation is an expensive and flawed idea. Bridget Wilcken, Mosman

Sydney is not just the CBD. And Sydney’s museums do not just belong to the CBD. The people of western Sydney deserve a worldclass museum such as the Powerhouse. Let those who live in the east, where there are a host of cultural and recreational icons, come to the new Powerhouse and ‘‘discover’’ Parramatta – the regional heart of this great city. Andrew Thornley, Ashfield

Yes, Parramatta should have a new museum, but not on heritage-listed sites. There is no excuse to tear down Willow Grove or St George’s Terrace. Nor is there any need to remove P.G. Taylor’s Catalina or other current exhibits (‘‘Aviators daughter says relocation ‘a slap in the face’’’, July 1). There are warehouses all over Sydney stuffed with potential exhibits just crying out to be seen. Jo McGahey, Belrose

When will the Premier release her plans for the Ultimo site? They are shrouded in secrecy. We have heard rumours that the museum’s fashion collection will remain at Ultimo, that there might be a lyric theatre but the remainder of the site will be sold to developers for ‘‘multi-use’’ purposes, including apartments, office and retail space. As a result of COVID-19, many apartments in the area are for lease. Retail is suffering and office space is unlikely to recover quickly. We need the plan now, Premier. Francine de Valence, Haymarket

1 July, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Doomed Powerhouse site deserves to be preserved’
The opinion piece by Professor Barney Glover, a trustee, is worrying (‘‘Powerhouse Parramatta bigger and better’’, June 30). The Powerhouse building is an important remnant of Sydney’s history that deserves to be conserved. There is no better purpose than as a museum. By all means, build a modern extension at Parramatta but do not sell off the current museum site for commercial development. The job of a museum trustee is to work to save our heritage. The Ultimo site should remain open to the public. Glenn Johnson, Leura

There is not one part of this project that makes economic, community or heritage sense, either for Sydney or Parramatta. How can a government (supposedly representing the people) be arrogant enough to ignore public opinion and expert advice? I can’t imagine not being able to take my grandkids and overseas visitors to the wonderful Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo; it is a truly tragic prospect. Rhonda Livingston, Coogee

Wouldn’t it make sense to build the new museum at Parramatta before dismantling the Powerhouse? Since the stadium fiasco, I have little faith in this government’s ability to complete major projects on time and within budget. It would be a crime if the artefacts of the Powerhouse were permanently scattered across the state, reducing technological history to mere curios in country towns. Peter Cooper-Southam, Frenchs Forest

Inner Sydney has the bulk of the city’s cultural institutions. Some offer free access while others charge entrance fees. Why then can’t we move a cultural institution that offers free access to families to create even greater cultural equity across the city? Todd Hillsley, Homebush

People travel all over the world to see, enjoy and marvel at historical sites and buildings. Here we just tear them down and replace them with ugly white monstrosities or soulless apartment blocks. Johanna White, Professor Glover cares no more for the historical significance of either the precious artefacts or the history of the Ultimo site and Willowgrove than the Premier. Use the money allocated to preserve Ultimo and build a second museum that incorporates Willowgrove. Our Premier needs to embrace history, not determinedly destroy it. Sue Durman, Pyrmont

The Berejiklian government is not planning to move the Powerhouse, it’s going to destroy it. In an appalling act of cultural vandalism, it’s breaking up one of the finest collections of scientific artefacts in the world. Items like the last remaining Boulton and Watt steam engine, the magnificent steam train which carried the first passengers from Central to Parramatta in the 1850s, are irreplaceable. Who would have thought this world-class museum would be trashed by our own government? Merona Martin, Meroo Meadow

Removing trees that were planted to commemorate fallen heroes, tearing down a stadium leaving a hole in the ground, and now decimating a museum that houses some of the most unique artefacts in Australia. Looks like a triumvirate of carnage. What’s next?
Sheila Taylor, Elizabeth Bay

30 June, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Premier should explain zeal for museum move’

The destruction of the Powerhouse Museum and the scattering of its collection beggars belief (‘‘Powerhouse’s treasures to be ‘scattered’, plans reveal’’, June 29). The tired old idea that it is necessary for the construction of a new museum at Parramatta does not, and never did, hold water, and in the absence of any obvious benefit, the most likely reason would seem to be the desire to fill state coffers by handing over to developers the prime real estate in Ultimo upon which the Powerhouse Museum stands. Premier Gladys Berejiklian backs this project with a zeal that really should be explained to the people of NSW. On the current government’s record, the project can be expected to cost vastly more than estimated. There are plenty of projects that would provide just as many jobs, and Parramatta can build a museum and fill it with any number of displays without destroying the Powerhouse. Walter Hume, Castle Cove

The Premier’s point-blank refusal to respond to me or anyone protesting the Powerhouse being ripped from its roots in Ultimo is a sad reminder of how little our voices count. Unions of old may have been disruptive, but oh, for another Jack Mundey. Peter Farmer, Northbridge

Your correspondent suggests, quite rightly, that our state government should examine its conscience over the Powerhouse debacle (Letters, June 29). Sadly, it seems the NSW LNP’s conscience has already been boxed up and sent to Parramatta – in a very small box.
Phil Bradshaw, Naremburn

The more we read about this move, the more it is obvious that it is just about real estate and what money can be made from it. Not only will we be losing such a wonderful museum, but the character of this part of the city, once home to many factories that told the story of our once vibrant manufacturing industry, will be diminished even more. Mary Lawson, Marrickville

If they haven’t already, I hope that letter writers will send equally passionate letters to the Powerhouse Environmental Impact Statement. Public submissions end on July 7, so let your disgust be heard before it is too late. Patricia Dunn, Gerringong

It’s not too late, Premier, to reverse the tragic decision to close the Powerhouse Museum. The Royal Society of NSW deplored the original decision to move the museum to Parramatta, believing the museum in its present location is a priceless resource for the city and the state, and that Parramatta deserves a new cultural institution. Please halt this tragic destruction of a cultural icon before it is too late. Professor Ian H. Sloan, president, Royal Society of NSW

30 June, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald; unpublished)
‘Steamed up over Powerhouse loss’
The Federal Government plans to deter the study of arts – a key factor of which is to teach critical thinking – by increasing the cost of tertiary arts study.
The State Government is bent on destroying the Powerhouse Museum by moving a small number of its objects to an entertainment and events structure yet to be built in Parramatta (at a scandalous cost), to which few people will travel. Annual reports will reveal the drop in visitor numbers, including students. And there will be fewer jobs for museum curators and educators.
I yearn for politicians who understand the value of arts and culture, and their fundamental necessity to a functioning society. The arts can boost the economy but their primary value to society is much broader and deeper. A society bound by culture is healthy, cooperative. A society without arts and culture to bind it is a fractured society, prone to disintegration. Irma Havlicek, Pearl Beach

29 June, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Shifting Powerhouse is a lose-lose proposition’
John McDonald’s detailed expose of the venal plan to move the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta clearly details the shallowness of this lose-lose proposition (“Silence won’t save the Powerhouse; speak up now!” June 27-28). It will destroy the museum in any practical sense and Parramatta will see the last vestiges of its Victorian cultural heritage torn down for a tasteless recreation centre. And we, the taxpayers, will foot the bill. There are so many bad angles to this plan. What possible motivation can there be for Gladys Berejiklian to carry it through, except to keep sweet with the only winners: the developers waiting to get their hands on prime Ultimo real estate. Jeff Donovan, Bermagui

McDonald makes a powerful argument for saving the museum. There’s also an educational perspective: when my kids were little, their favourite outing was to the Powerhouse. They loved the interactive games that taught scientific principles and were fascinated by the historical items showing humanity’s innovation. My son has gone on to university maths and computer science and has started research in artificial intelligence. It’s mystifying that the NSW government should be closing this down at the same time as the Australian government is radically changing university fees to promote STEM courses for “jobs of the future”. We need to inspire kids at age eight, not bribe them at 18. Kevin Fell, Cooks Hill

McDonald’s article gives voice to my outrage. This protest is not a cause just for lefty progressives: where are the historians, art lovers and conservatives? Relocation of the Powerhouse is reminiscent of the near-destruction of the Rocks in the 1960s, a historical area almost destroyed but now much valued and an important icon of Sydney. What’s next? Move the Museum of Contemporary Art? The harbourside location would make a wonderful hotel.
Shirley Cameron, Birchgrove.

Is this another case of a government selling a site to developers and justifying its decision solely on the basis that it will boost treasury coffers? The government should examine its consciences and ask: what will it profit if it gains millions but forfeits its soul? Nan Howard, Camden

I would like to respond to the article on the demolition of the Powerhouse Museum in the SMH 27-28 June 2020, written by the art critic, John McDonald. My thoughts on the ‘COMMENT’ are that the author addresses every aspect of every issue regarding the loss to the people of Sydney – and every Australian – of cultural and scientific heritage contained within the Powerhouse Museum. The architecture, within its Urban location, the history (largely contained within the museum collection) and the unique association of these elements with current contemporary visual arts.
These critically important components will not be relocated to any other site, as McDonald has forcefully evaluated and the political motifs that are driving this ‘farce’ are reflective of previous actions which may be construed as ‘graft and corruption’ – or at the very least, ‘political expediency’. Reg Newitt, Lisbon, Portugal (unpublished)

29 June, 2020
(Daily Telegraph)
‘Don’s party a museum folly’
So according to a Don Harwin close ally, “Don is not thinking how the moderates win, he’s thinking how we can be in government” (Stick to your knitting, Anna Caldwell column 26/6).
Is he? I can offer a suggestion to the NSW Libs: do everything you can to persuade Premier Berejiklian of the folly of dismantling and destroying a much-loved world-class museum (Our history will be put in a storeroom 28/6). Because unless you do you can rest assured of losing many thousands of votes, at least in the eastern half of greater Sydney, and Western Sydney would do well to understand at the same time, that it is not the Powerhouse per se they will be getting in Parramatta, but a poor cousin.
That poor cousin will have significantly less display area than the existing museum. Don’t think for a minute you will be seeing that magnificent Boulton & Watt steam engine or the Catalina flying boat – for there will not be sufficient space for them in the new building. The premier’s intransigence over this is unforgivable and the NSW Liberal Party will pay a huge price. Those that cannot bring themselves to vote Labor, will look to viable independents – think Warringah. K. Buckeridge, Mosman

28 June, 2020
(The Sun- Herald)
‘A powerful defence of Sydney’s house of history’
In print as: ‘History lives in bricks and mortar too’
Leo Schofield summed up how most people feel about a treasured museum being obliterated at an unknown cost to taxpayers (“Brace for cultural destruction”, June 21). Just ask yourself: why do millions of people flock to visit the unique Tate Modern in London? Could it be because the collection includes a unique building – size, vast ceilings, awe-inspiring entrance? It was once a power station. The cost of reproducing a building to house a train – or a plane, for instance – are prohibitive. The building is as important as the collection to the history and evolution of Sydney. This is why Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum must be preserved as is. Glenda Gartrell, Artarmon

Schofield has written a powerful critique of the Powerhouse destruction saga but his attribution to the Premier of the word “boring” to describe her one and only visit there sadly says more about her than the museum. Very few of the pupils I took there, and to the nearby Maritime Museum, found them so – even if Maccas for lunch was the real highlight of the day. Tony Sullivan, Adamstown Heights

Oh Leo; you are articulate in your anguish at the destruction of the Powerhouse so well. I am speechless at the Premier’s determination to push ahead with this folly. While I have read countless objections and many imploring her to think again, the only support I have ever seen for this move is from Parramatta’s mayor. By all means establish a standalone museum in Parramatta, but please Premier, think again about the look, nay, the political folly – of such a huge and unnecessary “relocation” when there are so many far more critical areas in need of government funding in the middle of a pandemic. Kay Buckeridge, Mosman

26 June, 2020
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Borderline incompetence’
Sydney light rail blowout, ANZ stadium demolition, Ruby Princess debacle, Powerhouse Museum: let’s hope the failure to close the Victorian border does not prove to be the ultimate wrong decision by this bumbling government (“Victoria’s outbreak puts flatter NSW curve at risk”, June 25). Greg Marshall, Bonny Hills

Central to education’
I live in Wollongong. When my four boys were young, a favourite excursion of ours was to travel by train to the Powerhouse Museum. When I was teaching, we would take our classes by train to the Powerhouse. In both cases, one train, one fare and a short walk. Doable, affordable, fun and educational.(Letters, June 25).Were the Powerhouse in Parramatta, I would hesitate to take my family there. A trip by public transport would be too long and difficult to manage with my kids. Sure, I could have taken my car, but any suggestion to do so could not have come from anyone who has ever driven a distance with four active boys in the car. The school could have hired a bus, but this would have raised the cost of the excursion.
Central Sydney is an ideal location for a major museum because it is accessible. Don’t move the Powerhouse – don’t punish our children. Margaret Hynoski, Kanahooka

25 June, 2020
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Secrets suspected’
The behaviour of the NSW government concerning the museum move to Parramatta provokes bewilderment, suspicion and despair (Letters, June 23). Its refusal to explain its rationale and its enthusiasm to waste money suggest deals have been done in secret. No doubt we will find out after the event when a magnificent museum has been ruined. Helen Knight, Wherrol Flat

23 June, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Museum not east v west, but a quest for the best’
on line as: ‘Powerhouse plan running out of juice’
Correspondent Chris Taylor is right to say the west of Sydney deserves a world-class cultural facility (Letters, June 22). But he missed two key issues. Firstly, the Parramatta Powerhouse ought not require the destruction of the existing facility and the loss of a world-class museum to the east. Secondly, the new Powerhouse will house only about 10 per cent of the collection as a permanent museum display. The rest will spend most of its time in storage, never to be seen by east or west. Geoff Wannan, Dawes Point

Chris Taylor, your “friends” in the east do not want to deprive the diverse community in the west of a world-class cultural facility. Many suggestions have been proposed that avoid building a second museum in Parramatta and destroying a colonial house and row of terraces.
Ann Eskens, Crows Nest

Having a world-class cultural facility in western Sydney was never the issue. The big problem is the perception held by many that the current museum is just a building full of exhibits. It is, in fact, located on a historic site occupied by buildings that relate to life in Sydney throughout the 20th century. Sure, exhibits can be moved at great risk and expense but the rest stays behind to be demolished by commercial interests. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

Your correspondent’s letter echoes the government’s mischievous claim that selfish people east of the Harbour Bridge want to deny Parramatta and the west of Sydney a first-class museum. There is no necessity for the Powerhouse Museum to be destroyed to begin giving Parramatta the cultural lift it deserves. Commentators (such as Elizabeth Farrelly) have mentioned the Cumberland Hospital site as one of several opportunities to develop a more appropriate visionary institution. Others, including an Art Gallery of NSW satellite, should follow.
Marjorie Sutcliffe, The Rocks

No one is campaigning to stop Parramatta acquiring first-class cultural facilities. We are campaigning against the destruction of an existing world-class museum equal to those of Chicago, Washington and London, and destruction that incidentally will also destroy Parramatta heritage. This is a government that is incapable of building without destroying. Its culpability in the destruction of the Powerhouse is a complete disgrace. John Burman, Port Macquarie

It’s interesting to note that the beautiful city of Buenos Aires has 167 museums at least, and that for one week every year they are free. Why can’t a second museum be built in Parramatta and leave the Powerhouse where it is? Jan Carroll, Potts Point

23 June, 2020
(The Australian)
‘NSW government is devaluing museum’s historic collections’
The destruction of Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum must stop. As a former trustee of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, I support Henry Ergas (“Unusual suspect behind act of cultural vandalism”, 20/6).I am shocked the Coalition government in NSW should devalue the collection of the history of NSW and Australia.
To destroy the museum, to move the collection now safely housed in Ultimo to storage at Castle Hill is a grave mistake. There are enough treasures for two museums. Think Smithsonian or the Victoria and Albert Museum which have several sites under one umbrella. The board of trustees has failed in its duty to protect the collection for the people of NSW. I resigned.
Janet McDonald, Edgecliff, NSW

The Powerhouse Museum’s present insalubrious inner-city site, with no parking and without accessible public transport, was always the wrong location. Parramatta is a centre of applied and developing technology. What more appropriate place than Parramatta can there be for a collection of scientific, technological and cultural items?
With recent road and rail developments, Parramatta is easily reached from all directions. The city’s diverse cafes, restaurants and art galleries will complement the visitor’s experience. To suggest that Parramatta will have no local audience for a museum such as the Powerhouse, and will be without supporters and benefactors, is Eastern Suburbs snobbishness.
Heather Rossiter, Mosman, NSW
[PMA notes that the Museum in Ultimo is easily accessible by light rail, rail and bus; and that it is a state museum, not a local entertainment centre, as it is being developed in Parramatta.]

22 June, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Steamed up over Powerhouse loss’
I am close to tears after reading Elizabeth Farrelly’s article (“Powerhouse will run out of puff in Parramatta”, June 20-21). Clearly no Morrison miracle will materialise to prevent our beloved and marvellous Powerhouse Museum meeting the same sad fate as so much else of our rich heritage. The pattern of scandalous and wilful destruction continues and flies in the face of the people’s wishes. The cynic in me also notes the Powerhouse closing date is the day before the start of the school holidays, neatly preventing last-chance visits which would have given our young people life-long memories of a disappearing past. Joy Nason, Mona Vale

Having been a loyal Powerhouse Museum member for well over 20 years, I was saddened and angered to think that this weekend’s visit may well be my last. My sons developed a genuine love of science thanks to our many visits to their favourite venue. If ever there was a time when young people need to become aware of the nature of things scientific, now is that time. By all means construct a new cutting-edge facility at Parramatta, but please save the Powerhouse. Steven Baker, Engadine

The fate of the Boulton and Watt steam engine is in the balance. Originally installed in a London brewery in 1785, this workhorse of the Industrial Revolution came to Sydney by ship in 1888, only to lie dormant in boxes for 100 years until reassembled and fired up by the Museum Of Applied Arts and Sciences at Ultimo in 1988. What a sacrilege it would now be to pack this jewel of the steam age back into boxes. Ian Ferrier, Paddington

I was standing watching a demonstration of the Boulton and Watt steam engine a couple of years ago. Beside me was a suited English gentleman who turned to me and said “I’m from Leeds University and we don’t have one of these”. He was obviously amazed and shocked. Experts have grave doubts whether it will survive another move. Marcia Horvai, Pennant Hills

The Premier and her band of philistine ministers will be forever known as the perpetrators of one of the world’s most despicable acts of cultural vandalism. Almost as terrible as the WA government authorising the destruction of 46,000-year-old sacred Indigenous sites.
Nick Sharp, Warrawong

No other sites were considered for the Powerhouse yet there is a wonderful place crying out for a new role. Callan Park is empty and neglected. The stone buildings there are beautiful and enormous — more than enough for three Powerhouse museums — and it is only minutes from the CBD. Refurbishment would come at a fraction of the cost of the move to the proposed ghastly edifice at Parramatta. Hans Knutzelius, Balmain

How disappointing that the Herald and Elizabeth Farrelly continue to campaign against a tier 1 cultural facility in Western Sydney. Our “friends” in the east will just have to discover there is a diverse communities of Sydneysiders far beyond Ultimo that deserve access to a world-class cultural facility. Bring on the Powerhouse Parramatta! Chris Taylor, Lakemba [Sydney Business Chamber, Parramatta]

(Unpublished) As the future of the Powerhouse teeters on a knife edge, it was heartening to read three powerful articles in your newspapers over the weekend opposing the  move of the Powerhouse Museum from its home in  Ultimo to Parramatta (Elizabeth Farrelly in Sat. SMH; Leo Schofield and Linda Morris in Sun-Herald). It is inconceivable that a Government can wilfully charge ahead with this deeply flawed project in the face of widespread and sustained opposition across the community. In June 1988, I was present when the recently elected to office Peter Collins, Arts Minister – in a  then far more enlightened Liberal/National Government – chose the newly constructed Powerhouse Museum  Board Room as the venue for the first NSW-hosted meeting of the Cultural Ministers Council, comprising Arts Ministers and departmental officers from the Commonwealth, States, Territories and New Zealand Governments. After the meeting he proudly took everyone on a guided tour of this stunning new Museum. This  is the same  Liberal Party which now, just over three decades later, is  spearheading  the  dismantling and, in effect, the destruction of this unique institution. One wonders what sort of political party it now has  become? Leonard Amadio, Rushcutters Bay

 22 June, 2020
(The Australian)
Powerhouse betrayal’
The closure of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney brings into strong relief the importance of integrity in any historical collection as explained by Henry Ergas (“Unusual suspect behind act of cultural vandalism”, 20/6). History has context, and context can be destroyed when a collection is split up. Access to history, particularly for education of our young, is also critical to our future and is likely to be compromised by the closure and relocation of the Powerhouse Museum.
Integrity is also lost when the wishes of philanthropists and past donors are dishonoured. Philanthropists have played an important role in preserving our history and breaking up historical collections could be a disincentive to further philanthropy. As Ergas says, linkage of history ought to lie at the heart of liberal values. It is hard to believe that a Liberal government would do anything to diminish our heritage. Such a breach of values is a betrayal of identity. David Muir, Indooroopilly, Queensland

Bravo, Henry Ergas, for maintaining the rage with his plea for Gladys Berejiklian to see reason and drop the planned relocation of the historically rich Powerhouse to the boondocks. The museum is a vital cultural component of the city’s metropolis, no less than the Art Gallery of NSW, the Mitchell Library, the SCG and the Opera House, and to move it elsewhere diminishes the whole. Given the depredations of COVID-19 and the pain it has inflicted on businesses and institutions, it is incumbent on the state government to shore up the city’s attractions, not disperse them – especially to facilitate another revenue-raising real estate development. Peter Austin, Mount Victoria, NSW

20-21 June, 2020
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Sigh of relief as NSW told hands off harbour heritage’
There was a collective sigh of relief when the Commonwealth released its review of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust as it confirmed a long-term commitment to preserve the natural, maritime, industrial, Indigenous and cultural heritage of these prime harbourside sites (“My federal colleagues have dudded us on the harbour”, June 19.) How blind to reality is Planning Minister Rob Stokes when he complains about the NSW government’s apparent exclusion from the review process? This is the government that dug a road through historic Thompson Square at Windsor, cut down century-old Moreton Bay figs on Anzac Parade, is carving through Parramatta in another light rail destructive charge, destroyed the convict-built Royal Oak and is ready to rip up the Fleet Street heritage precinct where the national heritage listed Female Factory is threatened by the gross over-development afflicting Parramatta, while the much loved Willow Grove and St Georges Terrace are to be demolished for a fake museum.
Jennifer Sanders, Russell Lea

How unseemly of Rob Stokes to whine about not being consulted on the future of the sites managed by the trust. His department has an atrocious record of heritage protection, courtesy of the miracle of state significant development assessment. In nine years of government, it has let high rise development rip around the harbour foreshore from Barangaroo to Pyrmont. Why would we want this government anywhere near Cockatoo Island when its best idea for Sydney’s most significant industrial heritage site, the Powerhouse Museum, is to sell it for more apartments? Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

Better that our precious harbour public lands are managed by all three levels of government. This way there’s at least a discussion before your government tries to flog them off to another dodgy developer to build yet more rubbish apartments. Sue Young, Bensville

15 June, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Parra matters
Couldn’t agree more with Elizabeth Farrelly (“ Parramatta could be a real jewel but we trash its treasures”, June 13-14). The community is suffering total annihilation of all our treasured places and loss of our sense of place as the “cradle city”. The community knows what they want but are being drowned out by business chambers and those that feel we should shut up and be grateful we are getting anything.  We want Parramatta  to shine on the international stage, not from towers of metal and glass reflections, but instead to proudly host the narratives of our premier state with a Museum of NSW in a 30ha botanic heritage site. This will deliver more and cost less than what’s being proposed . Come on Premier – I urge you to be visionary.  Suzette Meade, Toongabbie

14 June, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Flick the Powerhouse Switch
I agree with correspondent Brian Pyrmont (Letters, June 7): the Premier should keep the Powerhouse where it is. It is a tourist drawcard and an educational facility. It’s established. Sure, put a smaller satellite facility in Parramatta so they can have certain exhibits and work with the Pyrmont facility, but get the main relocation off your list. It’s a massive waste of money. Ruth Erby, Cromer

14 June, 2020
(Sunday Telegraph)
Wise Council
It is no coincidence that as the 1831 Historic Royal Oak Hotel is expunged from the panorama of Parramatta, the Sunday Telegraph questions the merry-go-round mayorality in Western Sydney’s capital. (Call for a mayor with Parramattitude, ST 7/6) Without a local champion, the impending sacrifice of the 1860 Willow Grove mansion for the Powerhouse Museum proceeds unabated. The mantra of economic development at all costs highlights the thinking of Macquarie Street philistines, bereft of conscience and emboldened in their anonymity. Your proposed remedies of ward abolition and a popularly elected Lord Mayor are excellent. A prospective mayor should abandon political parties lest the role be reduced to unimaginative puppetry. An Independent Lord Mayor, unfettered by the yoke of party bosses, will deliver much when the Sunday Telegraph’s sage advice is heeded. Alan Sexton, North Parramatta

7 June, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Relocation of museum is no powerhouse move’
Finally, common sense has prevailed (“Stadium plan axed to restart economy”, May 31). While the budgets have overblown in just about every infrastructure project to the tune of billions of dollars, the least this government can do is stop wasting money on things that are not required or affordable. The state government should go one step more and stop that relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta and save $1.1billion that can be allocated to a more deserving project. This relocation of the museum is a waste of money. Mukul Desai, Hunters Hill

This isn’t leadership; it is pure, bloody-minded, stubborn arrogance. There never has been a business case put to the people of NSW for the relocation of the Powerhouse, because no feasible business case exists – just as there was never a business case for the demolition of the Sydney Football Stadium aka Allianz Stadium (too late now to repair that damage), nor for the refurbishment of ANZ Stadium, thankfully now abandoned.
I don’t understand the Premier’s way of thinking: does she think that she has built up enough political capital over the COVID-19 issue that she can persevere with this arrogant and unnecessary relocation of a much-loved museum and be forgiven for it? If so, she is deluding herself. She needs to take a look and what Daniel Andrews is doing in Victoria and what Peter Gutwein is doing in Tasmania, not to mention the premiers of WA and QLD who have at least shown some concern for their constituents and bugger the politics. For goodness’ sake, Premier: get the Powerhouse relocation off your agenda, now and forever. It’s fine where it is.
Brian Pymont, Frenchs Forest

I have never understood the rationale behind the moving of the Powerhouse. It seems the Premier and her Treasurer have no respect or understanding of the cultural significance and historical destruction of what is proposed, let alone the actual logistics of moving delicate exhibits. There are enough artefacts and content within the Powerhouse archives for three museums. I don’t deny Parramatta the right to a museum but moving it all to Parramatta is no guarantee that it will attract visitors. Tourists to Sydney who have limited time are going to visit the harbour foreshore precincts before considering Parramatta – no offence intended to Parramatta. I fear it is just another land grab to keep developers happy. The move may create jobs in the short term, but how shortsighted for the long term. Sue Durman, Pyrmont

3 June, 2020
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Saving money won’t save lives or the economy’
The premier needs to forget the move of the Powerhouse and give back to the frontline workers. They have kept the state going and we want them to keep doing so. Alison Stewart, Waitara

‘Building history’
Local history museums and cultural centres are an inherent thread in the fabric of country communities through the state (“We’re not in Kandos any more, and it needs tourists”, June 2). The planned expenditure on more than $1.5 billion on one superfluous edifice would surely be more wisely spent on supporting the many existing and richly deserving cultural guardians across NSW. Steve Dillon, Thirroul

1 June, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Let Parramatta have its museum … a new one on a good site
Parramatta mayor Bob Dwyer wants to create 3000 full-time jobs on completion of the new Powerhouse museum (Letters, May 30-31). Presumably, that will mean the loss of 3000 jobs from the city. Wouldn’t Jobson want to retain all 6000 jobs? Why not let the honourable mayor build a new museum (perhaps preserving some history in the process) and leave the old one where it is? Dick Barker, Epping

Mayor, your letter tells us you should not have a museum. All you mentioned was job creation, injection of millions of dollars, infrastructure, the economy and, of course, the token world-class cultural institution. Nothing about preserving the past or educating and inspiring the people of Australia. And you forgot to mention a relocated Powerhouse would stand on the destruction of the state heritage-listed 1870s Italianate villa, Willow Grove. Louis Antony, Mount Victoria

The mayor of Parramatta is always quick to claim the advantages of moving the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta. This is despite strong public opinion against the move. As many people have pointed out, he could have a museum without moving the current one. The items held by the museum at Castle Hill are more than sufficient to stock a new museum without risking the cost and potential damage from moving the Powerhouse’s priceless Boulton and Watt engine and other valuable objects. This would be a win-win for everyone. Clive Williams, Lavender Bay

Many Parramatta residents do not want the Powerhouse moved to Parramatta, along with its destruction of heritage. Remember, we vote. Gail Grogan, Constitution Hill

Premier Gladys Berejiklian seems fixated on the Powerhouse relocation. Most people in her situation would recognise that they’ve blundered, and would attempt to rectify the blunder, but not the Premier (”Premier pulls the plug on stadium refurb but will keep Powerhouse move”, The Sun-Herald, May 31). While it’s good that she’s reluctant to break her promise, she seems unwilling – and unable – to acknowledge that it was a very bad promise. Makes me wonder who she’s promised the Powerhouse site to. David Gordon, Cranebrook

The decision to proceed with the Powerhouse lunacy is very wrong. A solution would be to leave the existing museum in situ, even perhaps selling airspace above, and build, as infrastructure jobs demand, an appropriate second facility at Parramatta on an appropriate site without demolishing any more historic buildings in the dead of night. Jill Stephenson, Woolwich

 1 June, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald; unpublished)
Some facts, please, Mr Dyer (Parramatta Lord Mayor)
Despite your recent statements (letters, 30 May) your own elected Parramatta Council has never approved the use of the riverside site for a transplanted Powerhouse Museum, and has never approved the ‘move’ itself.
Before being disbanded to permit council amalgamation, the elected council passed  Resolution 16308, 14 December 2015; Resolution 16353, 14 January 2016; and Resolution 16646, 9 May 2016 (their last meeting before the Government-appointed administrator took over) requesting that the riverside site be retained as open space. The decision to sell the site to the Government was made by the unelected, supposedly ‘caretaker’ administrator, announced on July 30, 2017, just 57 days before an elected council was restored, urgency of the matter being cited as the reason for this decision at this time.
Since then, the only relevant resolution passed by the Council concerns the wish to retain the heritage buildings on the site (motion 1426, 9 July 2018, reinforced by motion 2540, 9 December 2019, the latter under Mr Dwyer’s mayoralty.
So, Mr Dwyer, you are not speaking with the authority of Council when you demand that the Government carry out this incredibly wasteful and destructive ‘move’. Let’s use the money better by providing Parramatta with the world-class facilities it deserves on a site that is democratically approved. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

(Sydney Morning Herald; unpublished)
Carriageworks is in trouble, and Sydney Opera House is being asked to manage it. The Powerhouse move to Parramatta is an unwanted, horrendously expensive project that would create a venue very much like Carriageworks.
The solution? The Opera House manages the transfer of Carriageworks to Parramatta. Private companies redevelop all but the main buildings on the Eveleigh site. The Powerhouse stays in its heritage site at Ultimo and becomes a great museum again, unburdened by the cost of moving thousands of large and small objects. And Western Sydney gains both new art and event spaces (at lower cost than needed for a museum) and the arts companies that call Carriageworks home, while retaining its own heritage buildings. When the economy picks up, a wonderful new museum is built on the North Parramatta heritage site, as local citizens have been proposing for many years. Debbie Rudder, Maroubra

30 May, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Premier, prove you’re a powerhouse and stop it’
Moving the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta was always a bad idea. Premier, a rethink is not a backflip but enlightenment. (Budget blow puts Powerhouse Museum and ANZ Stadium projects in doubt”, May 29). Ian Ferrier, Paddington

It takes a pandemic to change the Powerhouse plans and not proceed with the football stadium. That’s one big win for the virus. Dorothy Gliksman, Cedar Brush Creek

You have been presented with the perfect opportunity to dump both of these ill-conceived projects and not lose face. Take it, Premier. Lyn Savage, Coogee

Now the community has become sensitised to the connection between public transport and infection control, the government should also be reviewing its infatuation with metro trains, which are being design to run at capacity, in sardine-style conditions. They should also be in the firing line. Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

The government could make another saving by cancelling the widening of the Great Western Highway and the tunnel under Blackheath and Medlow Bath, which would save billions. This should enable it to give a pay rise to the public servants who have been working so hard during this crisis. Margaret Hamilton, Blackheath

The $2 billion earmarked for the Powerhouse relocation and stadium would be far better allocated to the struggling arts sector, with a much bigger employment outcome. The new $360 million Western Sydney Football Stadium hole in the ground should be integrated into Moore Park. The saved funds should go into the struggling Carriageworks precinct and a new cultural centre in western Sydney. Tony Simons, Balmain

The Premier must deliver on her election promise to relocate the Powerhouse to Parramatta. If she is serious about wanting to revive the state’s economy in the wake of COVID-19, she needs to make the relocation a top priority. This significant project will create more than 2300 jobs during construction, 3000 full-time jobs on completion, and inject millions of dollars into the economy. Western Sydney has waited a long time for a world-class cultural institution. We are asking the government not to turn its back on us now. In order to survive the economic impact of COVID-19, Sydney needs infrastructure projects of this magnitude to forge ahead. Parramatta Council is ready to work with the NSW government to ensure these critical projects are delivered. Parramatta Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer

29 May, 2020
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Pay freeze for tireless vital workers a smack in the face’
Drop the Powerhouse proposal and pay the nurses. Steve Baker, Engadine

28 May, 2020
(The Sydney Morning Herald: unpublished)
‘Powerhouse Museum reopening?’
One can only wonder what the government is hiding if the Powerhouse Museum does not reopen on June 1 as is now permitted (“Powerhouse Museum reopening left a mystery”, May 27).  While the Museum’s permanent collections are due to close on 30 June, there is no particular urgency for this as the business case for what is to remain on the Ultimo site has not been released.  The EIS for the Parramatta proposal has also not been released, apart from a brief glimpse of an alarming draft which was quickly withdrawn.  The Upper House Select Committee on the Government’s Management of the Powerhouse Museum… is still sitting and has called for all relevant documents to be made available which may be revealing. While the Premier is preoccupied with COVID 19, this should not prevent her, as Arts Minister, from ensuring that the Powerhouse Museum reopens, at least until the end of the school holidays.  The public deserves to see the Museum’s amazing collections again before they disappear, perhaps forever.
Marina Garlick, Balmain

16 May, 2020
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Heritage win-win’
When there are so many negatives connected with an idea such as the Powerhouse move to Parramatta, the writing is surely on the wall that it’s a bad idea (“New Museum Eclipses Loss of Heritage”, May 14). The loss of yet more heritage buildings, flood mitigation, public disapproval and staggering cost can all be turned around by focusing on the other end of Civic Link, where a magnificent, priceless heritage building – the Roxy Theatre – awaits a rebirth at a fraction of the cost. The result? Heritage buildings preserved at both ends, the acquisition of a world-class theatree right on the Metro, a parkland river bank, Sydney keeps its Powerhouse. It’s a no-brainer. Robert Fox, West Pymble.

15 May, 2020
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Resigned to history’
The government’s determination to push ahead with the much-maligned Powerhouse move (“New museum eclipses loss of heritage: draft”, May 14) suggests there has been a firm commitment made regarding this projects. Just not to the people of Parramatta.
Bob Edgar,

14 May, 2020
(The Sydney Morning Herald; unpublished))
‘The Powerhouse Museum’
The appearance then disappearance of a draft EIS for the Powerhouse Museum move to a flood prone site in Parramatta only confirms suspicions that this is a fait accompli (” New museum eclipses loss of heritage: draft”, May 12).  Apart from unsubstantiated claims about its advantages, the document understates the cost at $1.1 billion.  It has been generally accepted that the move would cost at least $1.5 billion plus additional costs for establishment of conservation and other support facilities at the Discovery Centre at Castle Hill.  Only  ca $600 million has been allocated in the budget and the balance was to come from sale of apartments at Parramatta ( since abandoned ) and the sale of the Ultimo site.  There is still no business case for whatever is to be left at Ultimo and it is most unlikely that the sale would result in the sort of money the government needs to fund the move under current circumstances.  So there is a massive shortfall.
The government needs to come clean on just how this deeply flawed project it to be funded.  Better still, it should accept that proposal was never going to fly and abandon it altogether.  The budgeted $600 million odd can be used to provide Western Sydney with a museum they might actually want. Marina Garlick, Balmain

9-10 May, 2020
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Arts funding a small price for cultural life’
Kim Williams is right (“Opera House, keep your mitts off Carriageworks”, May 8). The NSW government has deliberately let Carriageworks go bust in its own version of The Hunger Games for the arts. Starve an organisation of funding and see it scheme and fight.
First the government ran the Powerhouse Museum into the ground and set up a fake cultural fight with Parramatta giving it cover for selling off the museum’s assets. Now it’s the turn of Carriageworks. Allowing the Sydney Opera House to take it over would be like the Sydney Theatre Company taking over Belvoir and Griffin. It will reduce diversity and give a handful of people enormous sway over programming for the whole arts ecology across multiple venues, leading to fewer voices and more government control.
The money to keep Carriageworks in operation is piddling compared with billions the government is spending on wasteful construction projects like stadiums and the $1.5 billion “move” of the Powerhouse to Parramatta. None of this spending will contribute anything to the arts if the government won’t invest in artists and curators. More than $40 million has been spent on consultants on the Powerhouse project but not one new cultural job has been created in Parramatta. When it comes to the arts, the government’s priority is all edifice over cultural content and cranes rather than creatives. Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

‘NSW Museums Strategy needed’
There has been too much knee-jerk, crisis management in the arts sector in NSW: the so-called Powerhouse Parramatta project (it won’t be the Powerhouse); the absence of ideas as to what to do with the heritage-listed Powerhouse buildings; the combining of the State Archives and Sydney Living Museums; the creation of two contemporary art museums within two kilometres of each other, and now the refusal to support the successful and much-loved Carriageworks.
This does not reflect well on a Premier who says she listens to the community and who pledged not to demolish the highly-significant Willow Grove in Parramatta. Ms Berejiklian tweeted a black and white photograph of her beloved mother today, nursing in her younger years. This is what arts and heritage is about Gladys – connecting to meaning, making sense of our complex lives and communities. I suggest an immediate meeting of Arts and Heritage leaders who do not have conflicts of interest to get NSW back on track.  Judith Coombes, Lilyfield. President, Australian Museums and Galleries Association NSW Branch [with extra original text]

It’s mystifying why such a young country as Australia has no qualms about destroying its architectural heritage. Clever architects should find incorporating buildings such as Willow Grove in their plans a challenging and intriguing opportunity that offered some wow factor.
Paul Hynes, Bellevue Hill

I didn’t realise that the return of “live” football was so critical to our recovery during this pandemic. Meanwhile the arts – theatre, orchestras, live music, galleries – all that incredible creative, healing and inspiring stuff that is unaided by JobKeeper/JobSeeker assistance is deemed unimportant and destined for obscurity. Linda Shaw, Braddon (ACT)

8 May, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Western Sydney needs a museum’
Rather than pushing ahead with the Powerhouse move, perhaps City of Parramatta lord mayor Bob Dwyer (Letters, May 7) should get in step with the people who live here and advocate for a standalone Western Sydney museum. This also has every potential to attract more than a million visitors a year, boost the economy, create jobs and become a cultural hub. It would also preserve Willow Grove and St Georges Terrace. For less than the proposed $1.5 billion, we can preserve the Powerhouse where it is, maintain Carriageworks and give Parramatta what it is screaming out for, what it needs. This is what would make Western Sydney the heart and soul of our city. Bob Edgar, Westmead

Bob Dwyer misses the point yet hits the nail on the head. Parramatta and the west are in need of more arts assistance. However this should not come at the expense of existing arts institutions within the City of Sydney. He would do better to lobby for funding to create arts and cultural facilities that reflect the heart and soul of the multicultural community that makes up the thriving Parramatta population. It doesn’t have to be us or them. Paul Gray, Daylesford

It was inspiring to read Clover Moore’s advocacy for our creative “workers” (“Scrap Powerhouse plan and save Carriageworks”, May 6). A city’s creativity reflects directly on the health of its culture. The past two decades of conservative politics have clearly underestimated the role creativity plays within society. Providing new jobs and counting cranes on the horizon trumps fostering a culture of creativity. The potential loss of existing fringe creative workers would appear to be seen as collateral damage in bolstering the state government’s bottom line. New York, Berlin and Copenhagen show how creativity shapes urban culture. Losing our creative communities will make our city dull, boring and mindless. Cleveland Rose, Dee Why

Marina Garlick (Letters, May 7) identifies excesses committed by government under cover of COVID-19, but what of the destruction being wrought on Parramatta’s heritage – the current demolition of the Royal Oak Hotel (established in 1813), the degradation of the Cumberland Hospital precinct to facilitate light rail, and the planned destruction of Victorian-era mansion Willow Grove to make way for the Powerhouse Museum. The lord mayor of Parramatta objects to any suggestion that funding to relocate the Powerhouse be diverted to Carriageworks. I have no argument with him that Sydney’s West should get its fair share of cultural and arts funding, but not at the cost of its heritage. What next? Old Government House to go under the wrecker’s hammer so Parramatta Park can be converted to Disney World Oz? Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

 7 May, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Struggling arts can bloom again if creatives survive’
The prospect of Sydney ”losing its soul without a vibrant arts community” (”NSW must protect its arts institutions”, May 6) sums up the devastation wrought by the pandemic. The likes of Carriageworks will rise again in prosperous times but when will that be? It is scant consolation for afflicted artists. One hopes the abolition of the Arts Ministry in 2019 and its merging into a broader portfolio did not signify any lack of political significance. Ditto the Premier’s failure to replace (former arts minister) Don Harwin. The arts — dramas, comedies, galleries, music and more — are vital to civilised existence. Life where the arts struggle is as unappealing as a garden without flowers. Ron Sinclair, Bathurst

(”Opera House poised to take over arts venue”, May 6) is a depressing reflection of how the arts are disorganised in the age of neo-liberalism. The fat cats get the cream. Whenever I open the back pages of a program for any of the major arts organisations — so generously protected from competition by smaller fry in Australia Council grant-giving — I despair at the number of full-time staff administering the creative efforts of the handful on stage, playing or acting, directing, designing, etc. No doubt those staff are now JobKeeping while casual creatives starve. The whole point of the Carriageworks which Lisa Havilah developed was to support under-funded artists denied a place in the Sydney Opera House sun — think of the Sydney Chamber Opera, so positively reviewed recently in the Herald — paid for by the commercial activities that the edgy venue attracted. To expect the Opera House to maintain that delicate balance is almost unthinkable. Jeremy Eccles, Clifton Gardens

Spot on, Clover Moore (”Scrap Powerhouse plan and save Carriageworks”, May 6). You continue to endear yourself and the City of Sydney to artists across the city. Many artists, especially in music, are ”invisible” and literally work as one-man bands. This army of creatives has no arts company support, no super, no fallback and, of late, no income. The last thing we want the ”invisibles” to do is disappear. Your support is appreciated. Warren Fahey, Potts Point

Clover Moore’s opinion piece “Scrap the Powerhouse Plan and Use $1.5 billion to save CarriageWorks” was on the money. Spending $1.5+ billion relocating the Powerhouse Museum out of Ultimo to Parramatta must be reconsidered immediately. A new purpose designed museum for the west would cost at least half this budget. Post COVID we need sensible spending by the NSW government with our money.  Wasting that absurd amount of money to just move a museum instead of adding a museum to the cultural industry portfolio and maintaining the existing infrastructure is the responsible action to take.  Suzette Meade, Parramatta (unpublished)

So this represents the much-vaunted Australian values for life in the time of COVID-19: footballers allowed to breach social distancing requirements and exempted from border closures, developers allowed untrammelled access without the usual controls, coal mines allowed to extend under sensitive water catchments — and no support for the arts and artists. The Carriageworks debacle is merely the tip of the iceberg in what will become a sea of them as arts organisations fail and artists starve in garrets. What sort of impoverished society will be left if and when this is over? Marina Garlick, Balmain

The Powerhouse and Carriageworks are both brilliant new uses for redundant industrial buildings so close to the heart of the city. They are therefore prime sites for this government’s shonky developer mates. These two cultural assets provide immeasurable creative energy, not just for the Sydney community but for the whole state. They should remain where they are and be re-invigorated, to be respected and enjoyed long after this government of vandals has caught a shiny new tram to nowhere.  Kent Mayo, Uralla

I am deeply concerned by calls to strip funding from the Powerhouse Museum’s relocation to Western Sydney in order to save Carriageworks. The vast majority of cultural and arts funding in NSW flows to Sydney’s CBD and eastern suburbs. Why should Western Sydney miss out again? Parramatta is at the centre of global Sydney – a strategic location for a world-class museum that can be easily accessed by people from all parts of Greater Sydney, including millions who live west of the Harbour Bridge. Western Sydney is the heart and soul of multicultural Sydney and our people have waited a long time for a cultural institution of this calibre. It will attract more than a million visitors a year, boost the economy, create jobs, and become a cultural hub. I applaud the NSW Government for their foresight to make this investment in Parramatta, as it will benefit NSW and transform our growing City for generations to come. City of Parramatta lord mayor, Bob Dwyer

6 May, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Arts play second fiddle to sport’
While sport, in this case the NRL, has its apres-COVID resurgence accelerated, aided and abetted by the government, it is in stark contrast to the wholesale disintegration of the arts as a result of the virus and lack of government support. The headline (“Carriageworks shunted into voluntary administration”, May 5) spells a tragedy that highlights where the government’s priorities lie. Their obvious disdain and lack of interest in anything deemed “arty” is clear for all to see.
Judy Hungerford, North Curl Curl

Carriageworks is one of the largest cultural precincts in the world. Rather than expending more than $1.5 billion to dismantle and part-move the Powerhouse Museum 22 kilometres down the road to a site which requires expunging significant heritage of the City of Parramatta in the process, why not invest some of these funds to help resurrect the international drawing power of Carriageworks with the remaining kitty allocated as a lifeline for regional cultural centres devastated by fire, drought and the pandemic. Steve Dillon, Thirroul

It’s sad to see the Carriageworks arts precinct has been felled by the virus. The story thus far? Empty seats, empty bank accounts, creating the art of insolvency. But the story could have ended in a standing ovation. The government could have designed the assistance without the condition of time on stage. The insistence of a time condition of one year, before social security can play a part, has brought down the house. It is a play in three parts. The government does not act, the actors do not act and the public is left with a closing act. David Gunter, Enmore

1 May, 2020
The Australian (some original text included)
A face-saving solution’
It is with disbelief that we in the United Kingdom have, over recent years, followed  plans to move the pioneering and internationally-renowned Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, highlighted by Henry Ergas (24/4).  We have witnessed with disappointment the educational value of the Powerhouse collections diminished, as exhibition spaces have been reduced and works of historic significance mothballed.
However, with the extraordinarily short-sighted proposal to move out of the inspirational and much admired building altogether, these carefully selected works telling the story of art and industry will inevitably be lost to future generations. It beggars belief at a time of world and domestic crises, with the inevitable consequent financial pressures these must bring, that the NSW Government would not pull back from its destructive and costly plans.  Has fate perhaps offered a face-saving way out? Martin P. Levy, Chair, Decorative Arts Society, London

28 April, 2020
The Australian (some original text included)
‘Carriageworks Lite’
On April 24, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian posted a message on Facebook acknowledging her heritage with an anniversary reminder of the appalling Armenian genocide, one of history’s most shameful chapters. Meanwhile, she pursues her own form of cultural genocide with the wanton destruction not of lives but of a critical element of the history and life of the state she now governs.
Be not fooled. Her strident support of the “move” of Sydney’s historic one hundred and thirty-four year old Powerhouse Museum and its unique and priceless collection, part of the history of this city, the state and Australia, is, as Henry Ergas notes (“Full steam behind: tragedy as museum powers down,” 24/4), to be shunted off to an ill-suited site in Parramatta and shaping up not to be a museum at all. Instead we are to have a kind of Carriageworks Lite, a play-pen for favoured “creatives” with items from the collection as their toys. [Oh yes, the new building is to have forty apartments and retail spaces. Imagine such a scheme for the Louvre or the Victoria and Albert Museum. Or even in more sensitive states such a Victoria and South Australia.] If ever there was a time to halt this vandalism, it’s now. [Instead, under cover of Covid-19, Berejiklian declares the ‘move’ to be a project of state importance and ploughs ahead, shunning the advice of professionals and the universal and manifest opposition of the people who elected her and is about to  blow one and a half billion dollars on this folly. As the PM says, Stop it. Just Stop it.]
Leo Schofield, Potts Point, NSW.

27 April, 2020
(The Australian, unpublished)
‘Powerhouse Museum: ill-fated destruction’
For how long can the forlorn Berejiklian Government persist in its ill-fated destruction of the Powerhouse Museum in the face of overwhelming condemnation of this cultural crime. (Henry Ergas, “Full steam behind: tragedy as museum powers down,” 24/4).  $1.5bn for Regional Education, Transport, Health? – NO! A pointless move 23km to Parramatta to put a vestige of a museum that the community there doesn’t want, on a flood prone site. More Tyrell Corporation Blanderoos on the Ultimo PHM site of a cultural crime – the destruction of the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo – more privatisation of public assets. Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea, NSW

27 April, 2020
(The Australian)
‘Saving cultural heritage’
Henry Ergas has captured the tangible and intangible losses to our culture from the folly that is moving the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta (“Full Steam Behind: Tragedy as Museum Powers Down”, 24/4).
The NSW government’s seeming indifference is accompanied by an ironic compliment to the Powerhouse at Ultimo: the new museum will bear the same name, despite having no association with a former power house. One suspects a cynical marketing ploy, capitalising on the excellent reputation of the only genuine Powerhouse Museum, with its cachet worthy of imitation. No wonder, given its record of integrating its rich technology and applied arts  collection with a wonderful heritage building that recalls Sydney’s coming of age. Maybe it is worth saving after all. Andrew Grant, Northbridge, NSW

25-26 April, 2020
(The Weekend Australian) (some original text included)
‘Hold up: the Powerhouse should stay put instead of moving to its new home’
Henry Ergas’s article brilliantly skewers the essential madness of the NSW Government’s so-called move of the Powerhouse Museum from its Ultimo home (“Full steam behind: tragedy as museum powers down”, 24/4).
[In November 2014 Baird announced the Museum would be moved, without a business case, and said the sale of the site, say $250m – would pay for the project. Wrong by a long shot. This debacle will cost $1.5bn and the Parramatta site is smaller and flood prone. The Parramatta design brief reveals only 5,200 sqm of museum standard exhibition space – the Powerhouse has over 20,000 sqm museum standard exhibition space.]  Taxpayers are being dudded, paying twice for an inferior result: a smaller museum with less of its collection on display, more like Carriageworks in the west and definitely not the Powerhouse. For far less money, the Powerhouse could be renewed, Parramatta could have the cultural and heritage results the community wants and regional museums and tourism could be supported. And still funds left for recovery from fires, drought and pandemic. Jennifer Sanders, Russell Lea, NSW

17 April, 2020
(The Daily Telegraph)
Well done Anna Caldwell in suggesting both the Powerhouse move and Stadium rebuild be put on hold. (“A house of cards”, 16/4) Larry Warton, Bangor

13 April, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Confusion reigns’
I am wondering. When are those who have “done a Don Harwin” by sneaking off to the coast allowed to sneak back home? Bernie Carberry, Connells Point

7 April, 2020
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
‘Destruction of the Powerhouse Museum under Covid-19 cover’
Rose Jackson, you are absolutely right – this NSW Government cannot be trusted to safeguard our freedoms – only Parliament can and it should be meeting at least weekly to monitor, advise and if necessary, prevent, any misuse or distortion of Government’s powers during these ‘viral times’. (Jackson, ‘Opinion’, April 6 2020). For example, undercover of the ‘virus’, Berejiklian,  Harwin and the ‘bovver boys’ are proceeding to destroy the Powerhouse Museum Ultimo by stealth – front of house and gallery staff let go – Museum closed – priceless collection moved to where no one knows. The Heritage Council’s processes ignored; the forthcoming Upper House Inquiry into the Powerhouse move sidelined. The Government is using the virus to slam through the hotly contested Powerhouse Museum ‘move to Parramatta’ wasting over $1.5bn of NSW taxpayers money and destroying the people’s great Museum. Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea

6 April, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Accelerated planning stokes ire’
I welcome what Planning Minister Rob Stokes has announced about “clearing the decks” with the NSW government’s new planning system acceleration program (“Roaring ’20s? Developments pushed ahead”, April 4-5). His aim to “cut red tape to [allow] businesses (read developers) to “override normal processes” will be great for the NSW economy. It is a relief that while we fight this virus the government is seeking to “clear the backlog” in the Land and Environment Court.
There is now hope such contested projects as a Powerhouse Museum redevelopment or the Star Casino’s huge tower in Pyrmont could get slammed through the approval process. The minister says this type of thing happened after the Spanish flu and will now enable NSW to get to the “roaring 2020s faster”. I can’t wait. Peter Neufeld, Mosman.

1 April, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Truckloads of cash from thin air to be repaid’
The latest $130 billion COVID-19 package is enormous (‘$130b lifeline’, March 31), and appropriate, but it’s only half the cost of six questionable submarines and 60 times the cost of a stadium and a Powerhouse move: none of which we need. Avoid bequeathing a vast debt to our children by cancelling such projects. In fact, we’d all be ahead. John Burman, Port Macquarie.

30 March, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Forget the Powerhouse Move’
The NSW government should forget the Powerhouse Museum move, the harbour beaches tunnel and the stadiums as these are totally useless in this bleak time. Redeploy those funds to training and employing doctors, nurses and sourcing supplies for health. If restrictions and shortages keep going the way they are, we will also need a lot more police. Forget about cementing past political obligations and plan for our living future. Ross Elliott, Balmain

28 March, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Power-move looms’
Now is an ideal opportunity for the state government to unburden itself of expensive decisions it otherwise feels incapable of reversing because of perceived reputational damage. The major one is moving the Powerhouse Museum. It has failed every pub test to which it has been subjected.
Gladys Berejiklian can both enhance her reputation and rid herself of this piece of detritus by announcing the diversion of funds allocated to more worthy stimulatory works. Peter Wilson, Quorrobolong

6 March, 2020
(The Australian)
I agree with Kylie Winkworth (Letters 5/3). It is madness moving the Powerhouse Museum. What does the NSW government intend to do with the Ultimo site and what developers are involved? Craig Walker, Darling Point, NSW

Kylie Winkworth is spot-on about the coming end of the Powerhouse Museum (Letters 5/3). It’s a pity we have had to live with Mike Baird’s decision after his brief interest in the job has well and truly passed. David Morrison, Springwood, NSW

5 March, 2020
(The Australian, unpubished)
The communities in Sydney are looking at losing the much loved Powerhouse Museum and its heritage buildings and in Parramatta we are looking at losing our much loved heritage Villa and grounds of WillowGrove for a smaller museum than Ultimo and for tax payer cost of $1.5billion. The Deputy Premier should be outraged (“Premiers Deputy in bitter feud over museum”) especially  when there are other options.
A more fiscally responsible and more widely supported cultural option would be delivering a $300-$400 million Museum of NSW, showcasing the our state’s diverse history from First Nations Peoples, the invasion of the British colony to towards our modern day multicultural free migrants.  Locating it amongst the 26ha state government owned land at the North Parramatta heritage precinct – which by the way, doesn’t flood when it rains! Suzette Meade, Parramatta

5 March, 2020
‘Powerhouse waste’
(The Australian)
Wasteful and city centric doesn’t go near describing the government’s world first museum demolition plans for the Powerhouse Museum (PHM). At a cost of $1.5b, this is the only museum project anywhere in the world where the new museum will be smaller, less accessible and have far inferior facilities to what the Powerhouse already owns at Ultimo. The Parramatta museum will have just 25% of the international standard climate controlled exhibition space that the Powerhouse has.  The flood risk at the Parramatta museum means we are unlikely to see any of the very large objects that are on exhibition at the PHM, unless the museum management decides they can be left in the way of flood waters. What is also being demolished is Australia’s greatest exhibition of steam power and transport history. These displays are considered boring by the Premier and the narrow coterie of arts people now running the Powerhouse Museum. The steam engines that powered the economy and development of regional NSW will never be seen together again. This isn’t just about the staggering extravagance of the government’s scheme to turn the PHM’s site over to developers; the history of working life in the bush and the city is being erased, along with a great museum that has been in Ultimo since 1893. Deputy Premier John Barilaro (‘Premier’s deputy in bitter feud over museum’, March 4) is right to be appalled. While money is no problem when it comes to thought-bubble projects in the city, there is no infrastructure fund for museums in regional NSW and volunteer managed museums in drought and fire ravaged regions are competing for grants of just $2,000. Readers who care about the PHM’s engineering, technology and transport collections should take a long last look before June 30 when the government closes this part of the PHM so they can commit their cultural crime of museum demolition behind closed doors.  Kylie Winkworth, Newtown, NSW (original text)

2 March, 2020
‘Migrate north’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Klaas Woldring (Letters, February 29 -March 1) “…. stated the case for a Migration Museum in detail, but was ignored.” Easily fixed, Klaas – submit a proposal that your museum will be located in North Sydney. Bound to be a winner immediately. Rose Panidis, Graceville, QLD

The Migration Heritage Centre at the Powerhouse Museum (now archived) was a fascinating online site that presented Australian migrant stories from many nations. Despite its minimal cost the NSW Coalition government dumped it unceremoniously eight years ago. A bricks and mortar museum would add credence and respect to our multicultural society. Rosalind Ward, Balmain

2 March, 2020
‘Libs Plan for developer hit list’
(Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
It’s way too late for the NSW Liberal Party to prevent the public from associating their ‘brand’ with property developers, especially when the NSW Government is dismembering the Powerhouse Museum to free up its land for sale to said property developers. Indeed for several months in 2019 Darren Steinberg, of property development company Dexus, was a trustee of the Museum.
The mooted changes to the Pyrmont Ultimo planning regime will allow super towers on what’s left of the Museum’s home should the Government’s $1.5bn+ ‘move’ plan proceed and development of the remnant Powerhouse site be deemed ‘state significant’.
But wait there’s more – two of Parramatta’s much loved heritage buildings, Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace will be wilfully destroyed for a thought bubble with less museum exhibition space and far less of the collection on display – a Powerhouse in ‘brand’ only. Jennifer Sanders, Russell Lea

29 February/1 March, 2020
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Migration museum
Plans for a decorative arts museum in Sydney have again bypassed the long-overdue recognition that Australia is a multicultural society (”Decorative arts museum plan targets Macquarie Street”, February 27). It probably has much to with the fact that multiculturalism is still poorly represented in decision-making roles in Australia, even though it is frequently used as a highly positive reality by Anglo-Australian politicians. Our submission to the Legislative Council’s inquiry regarding the future of the Powerhouse Museum stated the case for a Migration Museum in detail, but was ignored. Our other proposal for the Parramatta North Heritage Core Project got no response either. Migration Museums exist in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Broken Hill.  Klaas Woldring, Secretary,Dutch Australian Cultural Centre.

Ignoring the experts
Why does Gladys Berejiklian commission reports and ignore the recommendations? She has rejected five key recommendations into the drug ice (“NSW rejects pill testing, more injecting rooms”, February 28). I bet she will also reject the new parliamentary inquiry’s recommendations about moving the Powerhouse Museum to a flood plain at a cost of $1.5 billion (“Flood scrutiny to fore as inquiry puts museum under microscope”, February 28). No one accepts that the cost of this ill-thought out and unnecessary project will not increase substantially, like the Light Rail and Metro projects of this government. She could put the funds towards women’s refuges from domestic violence. Lindsay Somerville, Lindfield

Building a case against Sydney’s so-called ‘progress’
Dominic Perrottet really does have an issue with anything or anybody over a certain age (“Sydney’s seven deadly sins? No, I call it a symphony“, February 28). His idea of a shiny future seems to be to knock down anything not built or born in the last 40 years, and build lots of roads – instead of public transport – to take us to the new stuff which will never get old because it’s so badly built. And let’s forget any advice from experts who know what they’re talking about. They’re probably over 40 anyway. No, only the chosen few with plenty of experience in political machinations, and not much else, are going to guide the creation of this sparkling future.  Elisabeth Goodsall, Wahroonga

 Laugh! I almost choked on my gluten-free cereal and yak yogurt. Perrottet is as hilarious as he is visionary – dreaming of stadia where there are holes in the ground, painting futuristic images of world-class hotels where those of us lacking his sense of irony see only ugly casinos. Perrottet could become our Millennial Jonathon Swift. Philip Bell, Bronte

 Perrottet ignores the huge cost over-runs, the consistent transfer of public land into private hands and a failure of regulation to deliver safe, well-built and affordable housing. Since he admits to using Farrelly’s column as an inverted political compass I suppose we have to thank her for keeping the government dishonest. Colin Stokes, Camperdown

Perrottet’s list of “achievements” and his vision don’t match reality. WestConnex and miles of road tunnels for a continuation of carbon-polluting engines and shifting traffic gridlocks is not in other world’s great cities’ futures. His government’s tokenism to public transport is simply to pander to property developers. Tearing down heritage whenever it gets in the way and shutting down existing public space is not good governance. It is degrading the city I grew up in and am very fast falling out of love with. John Kingsmill, Fairlight

20 February, 2020
‘Heritage needs to be defended from Premier blind to history’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Might I suggest that before the Premier demolishes Willow Grove and St George’s Terraces she ensures that the builder of the new and undesirable Powerhouse Museum can complete the contract on time and within the budget parameters (”Design brief said heritage home can go”, February 19). We really don’t need another hole in the ground a la the stadium fiasco.
Peter Cooper-Southam, Frenchs Forest

Apparently Willow Grove cannot be retained because it would prevent “city connectivity” being delivered. I would have thought “city connectivity” would embrace the connectivity between historic and contemporary Parramatta. In that regard the Willow Grove precinct should be left to play a significant role. Gladys Berejiklian’s lukewarm support for heritage values shown in the design brief is no more than an invitation to throw out the old and make way for the new, a sentiment that many voters in Western Sydney may take to heart when considering whether her government should be re-elected. Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

Amid the frantic efforts to save Willow Grove, it is gratifying to see that the proposed Powerhouse Museum will be connected with Parramatta’s Eat Street. Would that be the same Eat Street that is currently being devoured by the Parramatta Light Rail? Bob Edgar, Westmead

Living on the northern beaches, I don’t go to Paramatta very often. On a visit last week I was amazed that in a large area of nondescript shops and houses, the planners of the proposed Parramatta Powerhouse Museum had set their sights on demolishing Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace, some of the few precious heritage buildings remaining in Parramatta. I thought perhaps that the architects in the competition for the project had somehow been unaware of their significance. Parramatta has been badly treated by developers over the years and much heritage has been destroyed. Only recently have planners begun to create an attractive centre, incorporating what little remains of the historic structures. Elsewhere in NSW the recent bushfires have destroyed substantial numbers of heritage buildings and we need to protect what is left more than ever. The design of the museum could be altered to incorporate the heritage. Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace are primarily the heritage of the citizens of Parramatta, but wherever we live in NSW we should help them defend that heritage, because it’s ours as well. Andrew Greig, Avalon Beach

We have a Premier who doesn’t care about our fish or our history. When will we get politicians who are connected to our land and care about our history, all of it? Linda Apps, Dulwich Hill

19 February, 2020
‘Hands off our harbour’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Here’s a solution to two problems – fund the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Cockatoo Island – then it can be equally connected to Sydney’s CBD and Parramatta by public transport. The sheds and infrastructure are already in place (Letters, February 18). Fund it to be a fully self-sustained operation, a forward looking energy centre of excellence capable of holding energy and sustainability focused international events. Throw in an education centre. A lifeline to Sydney’s future as an international net zero city – right in the middle of the harbour – a green jewel in the emerald city. Works for me. Lawrence Nethery, Manly

11 February, 2020
‘Sinking feeling for museum’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Considering the river has flooded at Parramatta two years in a row now perhaps they should be moving the Maritime Museum there instead. Todd Hillsley, Homebush

10 February, 2020
‘Stop Museum Move’

(Sydney Morning Herald)
Instead of spending multi-millions moving the Powerhouse Museum, Gladys Berejiklian could use that money to rebuild the infrastructure of bushfire-ravaged communities and invest in the life and future of regions. Standing by. Maggie Ramsay, Woolloomooloo

9 February, 2020
‘Powerhouse in Parramatta: museum or play-pen?’

(Sydney Morning Herald; unpublished)
It is becoming increasingly clear (New Powerhouse Museum designation ‘steamrolls community objections’- SMH, 7 Feb) that the so called Powerhouse museum in Parramatta will be neither a powerhouse nor a museum but a play pen for luvvies from the contemporary art world.
Although wrapped up in a cloak of artspeak – ‘immersive experience’,‘cutting edge concepts’, ‘research laboratories’, ‘astronomy programs’ and ‘front edge  technology’ – the plan is to destroy a collection of irreplaceable objects, unique in Australia and the world, assembled over one hundred and thirty nine years and worth millions of dollars. A group of ‘creatives’, hand picked by the director, are to be given access to the collections for inspiration. Rather like letting amateurs loose in the Victoria and Albert or the Louvre and to hell with history.
It’s time those generous supporters who made priceless donations to a serious museum in Ultimo to demand their goods back or have them redirected to more professional institutions. They were given for exhibiting in a world-class museum in the City of Sydney, not to some amateur outfit out west where a solitary space is to be given over the museums’ collections. And when the enterprise collapses or incurs the usual cost overruns, can deaccessioning be far behind? Leo Schofield, Potts Point

3 February, 2020
‘Overwhelming case to preserve Powerhouse’
(Australian Financial Review)
Lisa Havilah, chief executive of the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, is following Mr Harwin’s orders to destroy the Powerhouse museum despite the facts that it was never properly researched, trashes invaluable heritage, has never been approved by an elected Parramatta Council and will waste around a thousand million dollars (AFR, January 30). These facts have been continually presented to the Government, and they are irrefutable. It is opposed by every reputable arts and historic group from the National Trust to the Harden-Murrumburrah Historical Society. Let her apply her undoubted talents to preserving the Powerhouse, getting Parramatta an arts facility of its own choosing on its preferred site, and saving hundreds of millions of dollars. In the process she will preserve Australian democracy. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

11-12 January, 2019
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Fire catastrophe demands a royal commission’
A letter every day saying the $1.5 billion for the Powerhouse move is better spent on bushfire recovery. How many more before the Premier realises she can save face and the museum by reversing this wasteful decision in a time of need? Allan Kreuiter, Roseville

9 January, 2020
 (Sydney Morning Herald)
Transporting Sydney to a worse position
The ballooning $1.3 million backlog of maintenance of the rail network can easily be found by not moving the Powerhouse Museum. This may prevent our Premier from having to face another Granville train disaster scenario, when the locomotive derailed resulting in 84 deaths. Premier, you’ll be better remembered for attending to the bread and butter matters rather than providing “cake” as a distraction.  Stephen Dunn, Bonnells Bay

Power to the people
I hope the Premier reads your correspondent in the Herald today (Letters, January 8). A small portion of the money saved by not moving the Powerhouse could be used to build a swimming pool for hot Parramatta on the flood prone river-bank, and would also save the heritage buildings. Pat Allen, Lane Cove

Premier, here’s the thing. Leave the Powerhouse where it is and buy up some additional firefighting aircraft and land appliances. You know it makes sense. Roger Ellis, Millthorpe

8 January, 2020
‘Premier opportunity for change’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Premier Gladys Berejiklian would have $1 billion to fund increased infrastructure support for firefighting in NSW were she to cancel moving the Powerhouse Museum. Seize this opportunity, Premier, to show regional NSW your government does not ignore their needs. Such a decision would be applauded by most Sydneysiders, not only those opposed to the move.
Ray Morgan, Maroubra

28 December, 2019
‘They paved Parra-dise’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
At what cost the erasure of memory in Parramatta (“Merry Christmas Sydney, love Gladys”, December 21)? The proposed destruction of Willow Grove Villa and its extensive garden for a new museum would be the loss of a generous precinct, not just the removal of an abstract object. What cost the dismissal of grace and charm in the midst of a Blade Runner modernity to be delivered by international designers who have no relationship to local place?
The government’s mantra and practice of “Let’s get it done, NSW” unfortunately speaks of its ignorance of local place, culture and meaning in its infrastructure projects. Place seems an abstract concept, not a lived experience. Destination is more important.
Surely adaptive re-use of the precinct would show respect and retain the story of a more considered time. The adjacent modern office buildings are pretty ordinary. Why not target them?
If the quality of this threatened precinct can’t be appreciated and protected, our collective future looks pretty bleak. The danger of the age is in eroding meaningful established personal connections. These connections need to be maintained through qualitative assessment, respectful placemaking and protecting heritage. Otherwise, city life becomes all swings and roundabouts. John Skennar, Stanmore

24 December, 2019
‘Building on bones of the past’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
No building of excellence sits well on the bones of cultural heritage, Chris Johnson (Letters, December 23). Erase what is good from the past and the future is all that more uncertain. Parramatta has many sites that can host either an innovative new building that one day, too, will be considered heritage, or sympathetically refurbished buildings such as the Female Factory that blend the past with future aspirations. Steve Dillon, Thirroul

23 December, 2019
‘New’ Powerhouse a cultural fail
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Well said, Elizabeth Farrelly (“Merry Christmas, Sydney, love Gladys”, December 21). It would be cheaper to leave the Powerhouse where it is and build a world-class history museum/art gallery in Parramatta. At present, NSW does not have a world history museum; there are several excellent small museums focusing on particular aspects, but not one that covers everything. Maybe Parramatta could have the new wing of the Art Gallery of NSW, leaving the Domain intact for the use for which it was intended. Ann Cooper, Wentworthville

Farrelly is absolutely on song. What Parramatta needs is an art gallery which would hold blockbuster exhibitions to which residents – who currently go to Melbourne and Canberra – would flock. The Government in its earlier justification stated that the Powerhouse was tired and not popular; well, just give to the Westies, I suppose. Charles Ovadia, Bronte

Farrelly laments the Premier’s apparent determination to “make Sydney the cultural desert of colonial legend.” Indeed, is this tendency not wholly consistent with Coalition principles? Arts and culture are “elitist”, don’t you know. James Buckman, Enmore

Farrelly’s attack on the design for the new museum for Parramatta is clearly driven by her love for the existing Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo rather than an analysis of the new building for Western Sydney. She calls the design by French Japanese architects Moreau Kusunoki “pretentious”. The winning architects, who have simply followed a brief, have created some excellent buildings and won a competition for the design of the Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki. We should applaud their design as fresh and unusual architecture that is about the future, not the past. Chris Johnson, Millers Point

Congratulations to Elizabeth Farrelly for her scintillating analysis of the appalling decision to destroy the Powerhouse Museum. She really nailed a catastrophic decision reminiscent of an earlier proposed disaster – to pull down the Queen Victoria Building. Let’s hope the government comes to its senses on this one. Trevor Kennedy, Millers Point. (unpublished)

22 December, 2019
‘A gift to the developers’
Now we learn that $75 million is going to be raised by public subscription. This is absolutely outrageous. That is not a subsidy to the Museum, it is a gift to the developers. That is to say for the project to go ahead private citizens must contribute. Turn this around slightly: if private citizens pay $75 million then developers can build whatever it is they envisage there in Ultimo and make their usual fat profits. If a museum were built in Parramatta which did not require moving the Powerhouse Museum it would cost a great deal less and that subsidy to developers would not be needed. If I am correct, this is outrageous.
Parramatta citizens don’t want this set of wire baskets plonked on their city. There is no overall benefit to the NSW community, in fact there is a loss compared with leaving the PHM where it is and having a new museum dealing with the local area and its history. That is an opportunity cost. And the loss to the city has not been addressed. The city does not need a fashion museum or a lyric theatre. Des Griffin, Frenchs Forest

22 December, 2019
‘This Government has no shame’ 
This Government has no shame; it lies continually about every major project – Light Rail, Moore Park Stadium and Powerhouse – all deliberately under budgeted at the time of announcement, with massive blowouts to come later down the track. Scandalous extra money being poured into projects which only a few of their mates and developers want. In the case of the Powerhouse they desperately want to get their hands on the Ultimo site – which will end up being totally handed over for development – which is the last thing Pyrmont/Darling Harbour needs. They talk about leaving a ‘cultural presence’ behind on the Ultimo site – but you can be sure that  will not happen. And they are getting away with this monstrous act of cultural vandalism, which is the worst I have seen in my  lifetime – anywhere in Australia. They ignore the experts, and they dismiss rational argument. The whole sorry saga, over the past five years, will result in this NSW Government ramming the  totally misguided and insane project  through – ultimately at enormous additional cost – a terrible design on a totally inappropriate site,  which will require the demolition of two fine historic heritage buildings in order to increase the area – another blatant lie by the Premier who had earlier assured everyone that these buildings would be retained. Len Amadio, Rushcutters Bay

20 December, 2019
‘Completing major infrastructure projects’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
This government seems incapable of completing major infrastructure projects on time or on budget, after the announcement of the new stadium cost blowout of $99 million. Somehow this is better value for us, according to the Premier. The controversial shift of the Powerhouse Museum now requires $75 million of private funds to achieve the relocation (Powerrhouse Museum needs $75 million in private funds for Parramatta nove’, December 18). How do they keep getting it so wrong? And when will they be held to account for such errors? The major talent of the state government is selling assets. Rod Secomb, Petersham

Your correspondent Bob Edgar sets out a sensible, thrifty solution to the Parramatta Powerhouse problem (Letters, December 19). However, readers will be well aware that the most likely response from this government will be a last-minute demolition just before the next state election so there will be no way to undo the damage. Glenn Johnson, Leura

19 December, 2019
‘Parramatta’s rich history is more than a museum’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
The argument surrounding the Powerhouse Museum’s move to Parramatta should not be about the merits of the proposed design, but whether the move is necessary at all (Powerhouse needs $75 m top-up to pay for relocation, December 18).
This has always been about getting the Powerhouse out of Ultimo and liberating valuable real estate. It has never been about doing anything good for Parramatta.
The Arts Minister is sure the relocated Powerhouse will get an enormous amount of support. He should be aware that there would be a lot of support if the move was scrapped and the opportunity seized to develop Parramatta Riverside Theatre on the proposed Powerhouse site, respecting the existing heritage buildings and creating a standalone Western Sydney Museum at the Cumberland Hospital site. There is a wealth of Indigenous, colonial, agricultural and industrial history here.
The obvious benefits are a reduced cost overall, eliminating the risks of relocating precious artefacts to a flood-prone site, bringing the arts closer to the social centre of town and the chance to do something for Parramatta, not to Parramatta. Bob Edgar, Westmead

Linda Morris exposes the absurdity of the government’s plans (“Powerhouse saga is far from over at both sites”, December 18). For the Ultimo site to become a fashion and design gallery, while hoisting Australia’s first steam locomotive to upper floors in Parramatta, makes no sense. Why not retain Ultimo as is, and build a fashion and design museum at Parramatta, and retain Parramatta’s few remaining heritage buildings? Ian Ferrier, Paddington

The state government needs to look at its priorities. Taxpayer money is being thrown around on Sydney-based pet projects, such as Parramatta Powerhouse and new Sydney stadium, while many of our country towns will run out of water in the near future. Rain is what is desperately needed, of course, but so too is infrastructure to manage the little water we have. The government doesn’t seem to get it. It is like putting an extension onto the family home even though the plumbing doesn’t work. Dale Baily, Five Dock

Instead of spending more than $1 billion resulting in a rooftop garden “growing produce that celebrates all that is western Sydney”, would it not be more prudent to enhance the heritage of Parramatta town by leaving the 1870s Willow Grove house intact, and grow the produce down the road at Elizabeth Farm. Terry O’Brien, North Parramatta

I am shocked the interests of the Powerhouse so easily trump the fine historic buildings in a country which has preserved so little of its early European history. The move is not popular anyway, but the destruction of irreplaceable structures seems likely to intensify the public aversion, Bridget Wilcken, Mosman

Whatever the latest state government quote is for relocating the Powerhouse to Parramatta, it’s pounds to peanuts it’ll cost the taxpayers a lot more. Ashley Berry, Toolijooa

19 December, 2019
‘Relocation of Powerhouse’
(The Daily Telegraph)
I cannot understand why the Berejiklian government is so hellbent on relocating the Powerhouse Museum and why it wants to relocate it to the most flood prone part of Sydney. David Field, St Marys

18 December, 2019
‘Powerhouse Design’
(Sydney Morning Herald; unpublished)
Well, the design is revealed, so let the truth be told. The new Powerhouse Museum will be a ramshackle, hastily-designed, forlorn blot on a landscape once imbued with plentiful local history. For God’s sake, abandon this hair-brained, wanton idea once & for all & let this once-great institution live where it has lived since the late 19th century – in Ultimo. Hopefully, the NSW government’s recent experiences with Lendlease & John Holland (over the Football Stadium) will chasten the cocky demeanour of those who have advocated for this limping dog of an idea. Nicholas Pappas AM, President, Board of Trustees 2003-2010

18 December, 2019
‘Ugly museum looks like a Bunnings DIY project’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Powerhouse Parramatta? Looks more like a garden lattice from Bunnings (“Powerhouse shows hand with winning design”, December, 17). Philip Aspden, Miranda

If the winner of the competition for the design of the new Powerhouse Museum is the best on offer, one can only wonder what the other five were like. It is ugly and also appears not to be functional with so much glass and open spaces. While it is welcome that the proposal for apartment towers on the site has been dropped, how does the government plan to fund the balance of at least $500 million for the new building and the move of the collections? Given the government’s track record, the project is bound to run over budget. One can only question the government’s stubborn persistence with this flawed project against universal opposition from experts and the public. Marina Garlick, Balmain

Parramatta’s history is already reduced, in many cases to plaques on the side of skyscrapers. Now more heritage buildings are going to disappear to accommodate a museum. How ironic.
Judith Reynolds, Leura

The Moore Park stadium debacle and now the move for the Powerhouse are examples of the state wasting money in Sydney at the expense of health, education and drought control. Why should Parkes not have a hospital where babies can be born locally? It is time for the Premier to look further afield that Sydney and realise there are serious problems in rural areas needing immediate attention.
Robyn Lewis, Raglan

Great to hear that the government has settled on a design for the Powerhouse. But they have missed an opportunity to give the city a more animated design. I can envisage a building with four huge pillars, a substantial central core rising to an oval head (quarters) with a thrusting trunk chamber reaching for the sky. From a distance it would resemble an elephant. I would paint it white. Norm Lurie, Hunters Hill

Why is the government so determined to demolish everything that is historic in Parramatta? Willow Grove, a Victorian house and St George’s Terrace are both to go for the Powerhouse Museum. North of the river and 1830s house, Newlands, is falling down despite being on the state register. The new stadium has damaged the setting of Old Government House, which is a world heritage item. Harrisford and Perth House are all that survives of Georgian George Street and the country’s oldest church towers are swamped by out of scale development. Clive Lucas, Neutral Bay

17 December, 2019
‘Relocation of Powerhouse’
(The Daily Telegraph)
I have historical links to Parramatta and went to school at OLMC. I think the Powerhouse Museum should stay in Sydney and that Willow Grove should be preserved. Let us save what is left of our heritage. Jan Chivers, Cowra

15 December, 2019
‘Power to the regions’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
I strongly support Kylie Winkworth’s suggestion for more cultural equity for the bush in allocation of government funds (‘Powerhouse planning bill hits $18m’, SunHerald 8 December).   The rural galleries and museums greatly enrich tourists’ experiences of their regions, displaying the unique landscapes, exploring local issues and introducing the work of local artists.  Premier Berejiklian, please cancel your government’s plans to move the Powerhouse, a highly unpopular project which has been proven by the recent Parliamentary Inquiry to lack a sound business case.  Supporting and extending the work of our regional galleries and museums could encourage more rural tourism which locals have suggested an excellent way to support their communities at this terrible time. Beth Hatton, Annandale

13 December
‘Medical help can’t wait’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
NSW emergency departments are in a critical state and the NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, wants the federal government to stop patients turning up there (“NSW emergency departments in a “critical state”, December 12). Alternatively, the NSW government could abandon the egregious waste of money being spent to dismantle the Powerhouse Museum and instead look after the health of its citizens. Matthew Stephens, Thornleigh

Hospital emergency departments are already struggling to cope. If the current pollution in Sydney persists, and it is likely to, the coming winter will see a huge increase in respiratory illnesses. Time to act now to increase resources to deal with this impending crisis. Forget stadium rebuilds and museum relocations, they can wait. This can’t. Stephanie Edwards, Rozelle.

22 November, 2019
‘Memorial plan must be stopped’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Major General Steve Gower’s passionate plea for an independent review of the destructive plans in progress for the Australian War Memorial must be taken seriously by the federal government (“Anzac demolition a $500 million travesty”, November 21). The award-winning Anzac hall, erected so recently, should not be destroyed unless there is an extraordinarily good reason. Gower labels the proposed demolition “philistine vandalism masquerading as progress”. The same tagline applies to the destruction of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo in Sydney.
Ian Ferrier, Paddington

Couldn’t agree more with Gower. However, it could be worse. If it was in NSW, it might be moved to Parramatta. Tom McLoughlin, Lugarno

22 November, 2019
‘Shut door on Star’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
I can’t believe NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes is still saying “the door’s not closed” despite an independent panel’s decision to reject The Star’s $530 million casino plan and the earlier rejection of the tower by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (Panel rejects Star’s $530 Million hotel tower”, November 21). Pyrmont does not need this $530 million, 237-metre 66-storey hotel tower towering above, and overshadowing, the suburb. The Premier and her ministers need to listen to two sets of experts they employed to assess The Star’s “overly obtrusive” tower, and the NSW government also needs to listen to its constituents in Pyrmont and NSW. Helen Simpson, CurlCurl

19 November, 2019
‘Sinking feeling at ability to pick best spot for ships’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Objecting to a cruise ship terminal at Yarra Bay? Good luck with that. A government that will move the Powerhouse Museum from central Sydney to Parramatta will ignore expert advice and put whatever it wants where it wants. Phil Rodwell, Redfern

25 October, 2019
‘Ridiculous Powerhouse plan’
(Sydney Morning Herald; unpublished)
What a shambles! Five years plus of crippling drought and no real assistance, the future of agriculture under serious threat, a river system abused and neglected to a point from which it may never recover, whole towns at risk of parching into nothingness and our self-aggrandising ‘leaders’ want to spend a billion and half on moving a purpose built perfectly located facility to a place where few will ever find it! Wake up and put the money where your state desperately needs it! Robert Sanders, Tarlo via Goulburn

25 October, 2019
‘Premier punishes needy’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Millions of dollars were found to move the Powerhouse Museum and to demolish and rebuild football stadiums but NSW health services face cuts of $250 million (Letters, October 24). Thank you, Premier, for helping those most in need of assistance. Ray Morgan, Maroubra

24 October, 2019
‘Powerhouse in deep water’

(Sydney Morning Herald)
Digitisation of the Powerhouse Museum’s collection is indeed welcome (letters, October 23). It may also be the only record of the collection we have after the first major flood sweeps through the proposed new home in Parramatta. Bob Edgar, Westmead

23 October, 2019
(Sydney Morning Herald; unpublished)
It was good of Linda Morris to supply a good news story for Arts Minister Don Harwin and CEO Lisa Havilah (21/10/2019) after the Powerhouse Museum has suffered such painfully bad press for many months, including savage losses on exhibitions and other notable events. She reports that the Museum now begins “one of the largest digitisation projects in Australia”. She quotes Harwin’s boast that “digitising the collection is a once-in-a-generation investment”. Which generation? We began putting the collection online last century when I was Director/CEO. First we constructed a Thesaurus to name and categorise all our objects, an essential foundation for digitising one of the most varied collections in the world. For many years now, collection data, complete with excellent photos, constantly updated, has been easily accessible to the public and to Linda Morris if she’d bothered to have a look. She would find the Catalina flying boat and other large objects already there. So it shouldn’t cost the present management much of that $65.7 million allocated to keep the project current. Terence Measham, Pearl Beach

 23 October, 2019
‘Browsing history’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Digitisation of the Powerhouse Museum’s collection is welcome (“Echoes of a distant wave in museum’s net display”, October 22). But this may be the only benefit in wasting $1.5 billion to move the museum and its collection into smaller, less accessible and inferior facilities to those the Powerhouse already owns in Ultimo.
The web does not replace the need for access to the real thing. Cramming the museum’s collection into storage at Castle Hill will make it less accessible to the students and researchers who use the collection and the museum’s library, both conveniently located in state-of-the-art facilities in Ultimo.  Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

23 October, 2019
‘Powerhouse digitising’
(Sydney Morning Herald; unpublished)
Golly gosh! Minister Harwin and Director Havilah have discovered that the Powerhouse Museum digitises its collection and puts it on line for all to access. In fact, the Powerhouse was one of the first museums in the world to put its collection on line and has been a world leader in online collection access for more than two decades. In 2006-7 alone, the Museum served 13 million object records to its website users. Any money spent digitising the collection is well spent.
The real news here is the waste of taxpayer dollars which are also funding the risky and labour intensive move of 240,000 objects from safe, secure, accessible storage at the Museum’s Ultimo home since 1893 to less accessible storage at Castle Hill. All to prop up the utterly wasteful and destructive plus $1.5bn unachievable ‘move’ of the Powerhouse to the flood prone riverbank.  A hollow vision indeed – the Powerhouse is a museum embedded in Ultimo – not a brand as the Premier insists. Parramatta is being sold a dud – where is the belief in the people of Parramatta to deliver a world class museum of their own? Let the Parramatta community have the ‘iconic museum’ and keep the Powerhouse in Ultimo where it anchors a thriving creative and innovation precinct. Jennifer Sanders, Russell Lea

5 October, 2019
‘Greater Sydney Commission ignores Powerhouse demolition disaster’
(Sydney Morning Herald; unpublished)
Over the long weekend, The Greater Sydney Commission advised the availability of the report on its findings of the rushed Planning Framework Review for the Western Harbour Precinct and Pyrmont Peninsula. This report had been demanded by the Government after the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment actually did its job and made an objective, and rather negative, assessment of the Star Casino hotel / residential tower project.
One of the largest projects in the area, and certainly the most contentious, is the so-called ‘move’ of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta. It was spontaneously criticised in at least 34 submissions to the Review, and the Commission was formally presented with incontrovertible evidence that this project was never the subject of basic planning research. It is a case study of incredible stupidity on the part of the Government, as shown by the recent exhaustive Legislative Council Inquiry.
Yet the commission’s review did not refer to a single one of the more than 3500 pages of the so-called Business Plan documents regarding the ‘move’. The project was only listed once, as being in In a ‘strategic planning phase: Master planning and business case development preparation’ (Review report, page 12), but the Government has announced the imminent obliteration of the 1899 Harwood Boulding and the 1988 award-winning additions and the gutting of the rest. The only Create NSW documents deemed relevant by the commission were current operating documents of the museum, with no mention of planning, or discussion of the move project, to be seen (Review Report page 38). This is obviously because the planning framework of the project is indefensible by any rational process and indicates that the Commission’s report has no validity at all. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

3 October, 2019
‘Powerhouse breadth lacking’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
The Powerhouse Museum move has never been about protecting, preserving or presenting our culture and history (Letters, October 2). Nor has it ever been about doing anything good for Parramatta. There has always been every opportunity to maintain and promote the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo. There has also always been every opportunity to listen to the people of western Sydney and build a museum dedicated to the rich Indigenous and colonial stories of this district that played such a pivotal part in the history of European occupation. Sadly, in NSW, the people get what the government wants. Bob Edgar, Westmead

Few here in the south-west are likely to follow the Powerhouse to Parramatta. That would mostly involve three trains and then taxi, tram, or Shanks’ pony.  John Bunyan, Campbelltown

2 October, 2019
‘It’s a trap!’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
I read, with a rising sense of disquiet, about the Powerhouse Museum’s recent loss-making exhibition (”Powerhouse Museum’s Star Wars exhibition posts lossSeptember 29). The Powerhouse provides a window into the wider world. Its present location makes it an ideal attraction when staying in Sydney’s CBD. I applaud any initiative to build a new museum in Parramatta but not at the expense of the Powerhouse Museum. The Powerhouse’s present location is where local, regional and overseas visitors expect to find major institutions. It should be retained, funded and developed in keeping with its original intent – not dismantled piecemeal.  Stephen Chapman, Middle Arm

Even as a Star Wars fan, spending $36 for an adult ticket and $23 for my four-year-old daughter was a little too steep for an exhibition that promised very little for fans and could be described at best as confusing (Letters, October 1). The Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences and the state government might need to address this pricing considering they are moving the museum to a less affluent area of Sydney. Todd Hillsley, Homebush

1 October, 2019
‘Inefficient exhibits’
Sydney Morning Herald, full version)
Other reasons for the poor performance of the Powerhouse Museum’s exhibitions are the toxic Parramatta project and the compounding impact of the government’s efficiency dividend, now at 3%. (Museum rolls back imports as Star Wars exhibit flops September 30) The Powerhouse has lost a third of its staff in a decade, and hundreds of years of expertise. It has had four directors in just six years.  Six out of seven senior executives have left in the last year. If MAAS was a public company its shareholders would not be funding a $1.5b capital works project. They would want to know if the management and board could deliver a successful exhibition program before blowing up the museum at Ultimo and embarking on an unpopular and unnecessary move to Parramatta.  It is folly for the government to spend up big on cultural infrastructure when it won’t fund the skilled people the cultural institutions need to animate and share the state’s collections with people across NSW.  Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

10 September, 2019
‘ Premier: what makes a global city?’
(The Sydney Morning Herald, full version)
The premier thinks Sydney is Australia’s only global city (‘Medics resist plan to scrap lockout laws’ September 9). If only she had spent more time in Berlin she might have a better understanding of what makes a global city. Real global cities to not sell their significant historic buildings for a pittance, they restore them as museums. Real global cities value trees and parklands more than stadiums. No global city moulds its planning around monster casinos. And no global city would demolish a major state museum like the Powerhouse to move it out of the city into smaller, less accessible and inferior facilities, so the museum’s property can be handed to developers for more soulless blocks of flats. Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

16 August, 2019
‘Arts attack: vision is just hot air’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
It is unbelievable that the arts community has been left in limbo over plans to refurbish the Walsh Bay precinct (‘Scandalous: Walsh Bay arts precinct stalls’, August 15). Plans for the area were announced in 2016. While the highly valued players face an anxious time to find temporary accommodation it seems the government’s vision has turned to hot air. Shame. Vicky Marquis, Glebe

Another one bites the dust as Pier 2/3 of the Walsh Bay arts precinct refurbishment is put on hold, perhaps for good. Given this latest development, what confidence can the public have that the Powerhouse Museum relocation from Ultimo to a flood-prone site in Parramatta will be completed successfully? The state government seems hell bent on this project against all opposition. Surely they can find a face-saving excuse to keep the existing facility. Marina Garlick, Balmain

6 August, 2019
‘Cheaper gallery solution would cut disaster count’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Leo Schofield is right: the Berejiklian government has scored a disaster trifecta with its stadium, Powerhouse and art gallery plans (Letters, August 5). It’s surely not too late to build the new art gallery at the Parramatta River site chosen for the Powerhouse. That would avoid destroying parkland around the Art Gallery of NSW and avoid the ridiculous removal of the Powerhouse from Ultimo. It would be cheaper, provide western Sydney with the gallery it deserves and reduce the government’s disasters from three to one. Geoff Wannan, Dawes Point

5 August, 2019
‘Cultural project disasters trifecta’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Congratulations to the Berejilian government on having a trifecta of cultural inftrastructure disasters, a new sports stadium, a new art gallery and a new museum, all three of them manifestly dud ideas, all in the wrong place (“Lendlease dispute causes more delays for Art Gallery”, August 3-4). If a new stadium were actually needed, it should surely have been located in Sydney’s west. Plonking it in Moore Park was akin to building the Stade de France in the Place de la Concorde.
Boosters of Sydney Modern might have followed the example of the Tate Modern, a separate entity at some remove from the heritage building in the Domain. That David Walsh’s MONA is 11 kilometres north of the Tasmanian Art Gallery has not deterred visitors. Then of course, there is the disgraceful shambles of the “relocation” of the Powerhouse Museum to a building half the size and next to a flood-prone river. Given this state government’s for on cost overruns, this move will possibly quadruple the cost of refurbishing the current home of its irreplacable collections. Back to the drawing board, Gladys. Leo Schofield, Potts Point

31 July, 2019
(Sydney Morning Herald)
A suggestion for the Berejiklian government. (‘Stadium setback shows cost of planning on the run’, July 30) Forget about moving the Powerhouse Museum and use the money saved towards the Sydney Football Stadium. Everyone wins. Barry Ffrench, Cronulla

27-28 July, 2019
‘Vibrant, global cities don’t close down at sunset’
(Sydney Morning Herald) 
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is having himself on when he equates Sydney with London and Paris as global cities (“What about us? Perrottet wants a minister to preach Sydney’s virtues”, July 26). People don’t go to global cities for the natural wonders, they go for culture, nightlife, shopping and the feeling that something exciting might happen at any time. If Perrottet wants a report on how anodyne our city has become he should ask a taxi driver or bar manager, or the owner of a boutique driven out by high rents. Before trumpeting the daytime attractions of our beautiful city, a minister for Sydney would need to make sure international visitors have something to do after 6pm, other than hide out in their hotels watching Netflix and ordering Uber Eats. Colin Stokes, Camperdown

Perrottet wants Sydney to get the same global recognition as London or Paris. A good start would be to stop allowing developers to trash it. London and Paris work to preserve their character. Mark Tietjen, Redfern

I agree with Perrottet that Sydney has great natural beauty. However, it will never been on a par with London and Paris because its leaders know the price of every parcel of land but the value of none.  Anne Matheson, Gordon

The assets for Sydney the NSW Treasurer is recommending is the inclusion of new museums and galleries. Is this a member of the same government now in the process of removing one museum from Sydney, namely the Powerhouse Museum?  John Fraser, Surry Hills

If Perrottet wants to push Sydney as a destination he could start by keeping the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo, where visitors can reach it.  Keith Masnick, Woollahra

Perrottet obviously needs to be told of Clover Moore, the mayor who is a passionate supporter of all things Sydney. Or is his passion for yet another minister wilful political interference with an advocate who resists political interference?  Anne Garvan, Chatswood West

Fascinating to read that Treasurer Perrottet wants to talk up harbourside Sydney as a ‘truly global city’, and argues for a dedicated minister to do it, equivalent to ministers for Regional NSW and Western Sydney. Despite current criticisms of over-development and heritage destruction, he claims Sydney is ‘emerging as a revitalised city, with major projects such as … stadiums and cultural institutions including new museums and galleries’. But does he accept, or even realise, that despite the strongly critical Upper House Inquiry report, the Premier and Arts Minister still plan to move one of the well-established key international attractions, the Powerhouse Museum, out of it? A new museum/gallery for Western Sydney – sure! But leave the Powerhouse in Ultimo! Grace Cochrane, Summer Hill (unpublished)

A cultural institution, unique in Australia, attracting many overseas visitors, stands in central Sydney, in its unique, magnificent heritage buildings. Somebody, in late 2014, gets the idea of spending a billion dollars of public money by moving it 30 kilometres from this ideal site. No alternatives are examined, and all stakeholders find about it by reading the newspapers. The heritage buildings are to be degraded and largely replaced by yet more residential towers. The institution is to be placed on a smaller site, without consultation with the local government or assessment of alternatives, and indeed the local government authority have requested that the site be used for other purposes. The transplanted institution has limited local relevance.
There is massive public protest, not only in the inner city. Almost every expert in relevant fields opposes the idea, giving sound evidence supporting their view. Organisations such as the National Trust are unanimous in condemning the project. A huge public inquiry confirms all the problems listed above. Yet the Government persists in the idea of moving the Powerhouse Museum from the Ultimo to its cramped site in Parramatta, resulting in the complete waste of at least $500 million, not to mention loss of heritage. What has happened to democracy, and indeed, to responsible government? Tom Lockley, Pyrmont (unpublished)

9 May, 2019
‘Powerhouse doors open’
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
Postponing the shut down may result in changing  the Government’s mind on demolishing the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo. (9 May, Powerhouse Museum to keep doors open ). Otherwise the delay will simply prolong the agony and  uncertainty for staff, volunteers and the public. The process has already started. This once  proud Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Is getting converted into a temporary storage and exhibition facility. Garry Horvai: Pennant Hills

 1 May, 2019
‘Air rights and Powerhouse Museum’
Sydney Morning Herald (unpublished)
At last a visionary and heritage saving use of air rights! Congratulations to Sydney Living Museums and the City of Sydney for ensuring the future of the Hyde Park Barracks in terms of both income and safeguarding against future development. (1 May, Blue sky to fund 200th anniversary renos of Hyde Park Barracks).The air rights over the Powerhouse Museum would also be worth a tidy sum which would preserve and renew this 135year old museum in its historic precinct.
The government can save itself the $1.5bn plus costs of the misjudged Powerhouse to Parramatta plan and can instead build a brilliant Parramatta cultural precinct based on community consultation with the $645m already set aside in the budget. A win – win situation much better suited to the reality of the dwindling surplus in the budget projections. No demolition of Sulman award-winning architecture to build super towers on the Ultimo site, nor damaging dislocation of irreplaceable collections belonging to the people of NSW. No destruction of this world class, much loved museum. Jennifer Sanders: Russell Lea

9 April, 2019
‘Unsung Opera House hero’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
[Joe] Bertony (“genius behind the Opera House’s iconic sails dies at 97”, April 8) donated his 30,000 handwritten mathematical calculations which made the sails possible to the Powerhouse Museum. How many others have donated material to the Powerhouse in good faith, thinking they would be available in a central city location, not on a flood-prone site or in distant storage? Given the government’s stubborn insistence on moving the Powerhouse to Parramatta against all expert opinion, are these people going to be able to claim their donations back?
Marina Garlick, Balmain

6 April, 2019
‘Manly Freshwater Ferries’
(Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
With the recent NSW Liberal Government’s election, and the state’s heritage at the whim of a capricious Arts Minister, we now have in place the possibility of new legislation – for the first time –THE THIRTY YEAR RULE! where the replacement of iconic Sydney Freshwater ferries (SMH p3, 5 April 2019), the demolition of the Powerhouse Museum and Sydney Football Stadium inexorably make perfect sense – out with the almost new and in with the newer – money to burn – help! Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea

4 April, 2019
‘Environment shut out’
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
The NSW Liberal government has got rid of the Ministry for Environment and Heritage (“NSW environment staff fear for jobs”, April 3). There goes the neighbourhood.
Dale Dengate, Glebe Point

No sooner had the ink dried on the swearing in of the newly elected state government and they have closed the office of the environment. I thought the Premier said this was going to be a changed government. Perhaps they plan on paving over the entire Sydney region in the next five years.  Roger Johnson, New Lambton Heights

3 April, 2019
‘Premier’s new cabinet offers hope’
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
It’s welcoming news that Premier Berejiklian has charged a planner, Rob Stokes, with the contentious planning portfolio (“Reshuffled cabinet is not just about personalities”, April 2). Stokes’ understanding of city planning matters has previously proved insightful. Resurrecting a team of public servants who might advocate, design and oversee much needed improvements in public space is arguably an equally important, though missing, ingredient. The responsibility of providing quality public space has gradually become the providence of the private consultant. Realistically the allegiance of these private practitioners is subjected to the short-term whims of their next client. For public space to rejuvenate and flourish, the establishment of a committed body of talented public servants should be considered.  Cleveland Rose, Dee Why

1 April, 2019
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
The government has trashed the environment for eight years yet the voters returned it to office. Smacks of an electorate out of touch.  David Goldstein, Balgowlah

Berejiklian has presided over a secretive government that has done more harm than good, especially to the environment, with big business, developers and party donors the policy beneficiaries. Marie Healy, Hurlstone Park

31 March, 2019
 (The Sydney Morning Herald)
Dear Premier, hopefully you have had one enormous scare. Is it too much to hope that you will now start listening to the people, rather than the developers, and leave the Powerhouse alone and forget the stadium knockdowns? It would also be advisable to take some elementary economics lessons. As any high school economics student could tell you, the basic tenet of the study of economics is that wants are unlimited and the resources with which to satisfy them are limited. Therefore, choices have to be made and we can’t “have it all”.  Ann Clydsdale, Bathurst

26 March, 2019
‘Voters decry lack of transparency’
 (The Sydney Morning Herald)
A huge reason for the rise of small parties, especially outside the cities, is the lack of transparency in government actions (‘‘Bush backlash unsettles Coalition’’, March 25). For example the sales of the Department of Education, Powerhouse and Lands buildings. How much they sold for, who to and the conditions of the tender and contracts. We see the government selling off the silverware but our services become more costly, if we even have them at all. So, how about some openness in government? And this applies to the opposition as well.
Jon Sloan, North Narooma

No party can take comfort from the results. The government lost four seats (Nationals three and Liberals one) and the Labor Party only picked up two seats. Coogee was lost because of one of the government’s infrastructure programs (light rail), and the country seats were lost because the government was not listening to the bush. All political parties must start to listen to what the people of NSW want and make the decisions we want.  Ross Langford-Brown, Randwick

In all this post election hype, it is easy to overlook the collateral damage caused to  the Allianz Stadium and to the poor Powerhouse Museum. What next for Ultimo? Will the government hand the entire site over to developers?  Falling property prices could curtail the amount developers are willing to shell out. The currently operational 230 year old Bolton & Watt steam engine alone will cost millions to pull apart, transport to a safe site, reassemble and make to work again.  Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills (unpublished)

25 March, 2019
‘Savour your win Premier but don’t become complacent’
Readers weigh in on the NSW election and Gladys Berejiklian’s victory
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Congratulations, Ms Berejiklian, but don’t become complacent (‘‘Historic win for Premier’’, March 24). We expect much from you. Complete the infrastructure projects, keep your promises on TAFE, schools and health services, do something about the Murray-Darling Basin and environment in general, don’t sell any more state assets and ignore Alan Jones et al.
Max Redmayne, Russell Lea

May we please have, on the ruins of the Powerhouse Museum, a bronze statue of the perpetrators to serve as a focus for the rage of future generations? Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

Congratulations to the Developers Party on their re-election. You now have another four years to make certain that no heritage-listed building, public or national park, nor even the occasional shade tree, will survive your term in office. May those three outstanding symbols of your governance – the wrecking ball, chainsaw and koala carcass – be emblazoned across the state. The voters have spoken. Only history and future generations will be able to judge the result.  John Tomlin, Bradbury

Groan. More of the same. Overdevelopment. Indifference to the environment. More motorways. Infrastructure projects that run neither on time or budget or even close, disrupt communities and tear up heritage.  Marie Del Monte, Ashfield

Now that the Sydney election has been run and won, will an election be held for the benefit of the rest of the state’s education, infrastructure and health requirements?  Ted Jarrett, Berry

NSW, you asked for it. Just watch as public assets such as parks, transport systems, roads, historic and heritage sites and buildings, government facilities and responsibilities such as health and education are flogged off to and contracted out to mates. Just watch the continued ignorant mismanagement of river systems and rural land. Just watch the out-of-control building of ugly, cheap (and dangerous) apartments in Sydney. And don’t even talk about the wonderful Powerhouse. Adrianne Hannan, Bowral

22 March, 2019
‘Paul Keating predicted it
(Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
I belong to no party but, as a well-informed supporter of the Powerhouse Museum Alliance, I can state categorically, based on close analysis, this Coalition Government repeatedly misled, hid facts and underestimated cost due to political cynicism and developer-focused policies. The museum at Parramatta will easily absorb a Total Project Cost of more than $1.5 billion on their figures alone. Your profoundly sub-optimal opinion (‘Coalition deserves a third term to get the job done, 22 March) to return this ship of mendacious fools says all we need to know: stand up Mr Costello.  As for grave issues such as catastrophic environmental ‘policies’, enormous cost over runs leading to $14 billion wastage, urban over development, incompetent project mismanagement etc. you remain silent. Go figure. Vote Liberals Last! Dr Lindsay Sharp, Foxground

12 March, 2019
‘We can have it all Premier, but do we really want it?’
Sydney Morning Herald: Among many letters about election promises, with questions about cost of stadiums and transport, versus schools, TAFE and hospitals...]
I’ve heard nothing this campaign about spending $800 million to move the Powerhouse Museum to a flood plain at Parramatta or to whom the existing building is being sold to and why. Jon Sloan, North Narooma

4 March, 2019
Let’s build something brilliant (on-line as Build something brilliant in Parramatta)
(Sydney Morning Herald)
The Royal Society of NSW, Australia’s oldest scientific and cultural organisation, applauds the recommendation of the upper house’s parliamentary committee to retain the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo (“State urged to put museum move on hold“, March 1), and to support a major new cultural institution at Parramatta. The right place for the Museum of Applied Arts and Science, the Powerhouse Museum, is where it is now, as an integral part of Sydney history, close to Sydney Observatory, Darling Harbour and universities, and well located as a rich educational and tourist resource. The Royal Society is excited that the report recognises the urgent need for renovation of the Powerhouse Museum, to make up for the years of neglect that have allowed this priceless asset to fall behind other science museums around the world. In planning the Parramatta museum, the needs and interests of Parramatta and NSW should be assessed, and an exciting and innovative museum then designed. We in NSW have, for example, no First People’s museum, nor a heritage and immigration museum. Such choices would be drawcards for locals and tourists alike, bringing a new audience to Parramatta. Instead of wasting funds moving a valuable existing collection to a new place, let’s use public funds to build something new and brilliant. Professor Ian Sloan, President, Royal Society of NSW

2 March, 2019
Logic lost in translation on Powerhouse debate
(Sydney Morning Herald)
One cannot conduct a rational discussion with a creationist, a climate change denier, an anti-vaccination activist or a Trump supporter. The normal rules of debate, logic, scientific proof etc just do not apply. To these people we must add supporters of the “move” of the museum to Parramatta (“State urged to put museum move on hold“, March 1). The massive Legislative Council Inquiry, over a period of more than two years, produced evidence demonstrating it was unresearched and, if implemented, would trash heritage, waste at least $500 million, and, at best, end up with an inferior institution not wanted by the Parramatta people. The government members have ignored all these facts and in a 215-word statement simply said that they reject all the findings without providing contrary evidence to any aspect of the report. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

I have been reconsidering my opposition to the sale of government institutions and buildings in Sydney. I have come to realise that my opposition to, say, the moving of the Powerhouse Museum to a flood-prone site in Parramatta was based entirely on false reasoning. I thought the purpose of government was to govern for the people. I now accept, as have the Baird and Berejiklian governments, that the purpose of government is to provide conditions for the enrichment of property developers. Therefore, I propose that we sell off all those government buildings in Macquarie and Philip Streets, and move the lot to, say, Menindee. There, our Premier could enjoy the joys of severe water restrictions, the aromas of dead and dying fish and animals, see “the sunlit plains extended” and watch “the everlasting stars”. We could also move Sydney Hospital and the Living Museums headquarters to Tibooburra. Think of the jobs created. Think of the wonderful development opportunities. Gordon Chirgwin, Harrington

Premier Berejiklian has dismissed the recommendations of the Parliamentary Inquiry as a political stunt. At the same time, regrettably, she failed to make a single reference to the crux of all the controversy, namely the fate of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo. Sydney is a global city; four years ago Sydney had a unique world class Powerhouse Museum. Then Premier Baird made his “announcement”, and the fate of the Powerhouse Museum and its vast on-site collection has been subjected to relentless government spin and uncertainty.  [The current make up of the Museum’s Board of Trustees should not leave any doubt as to why the focus of this government is exclusively on the “Iconic” at Parramatta (unpublished).]
Marcia Horvai, Pennant Hills

If nothing else, the knowledge that the Powerhouse Museum will be saved and restored under an ALP state government is a cause for rejoicing. There is no reason why an extra and different museum should not be built at Parramatta but that should not be the reason for replacing the Ultimo site with developer-driven blocks of flats. We can only hope that Gladys Berejiklian does not try another fait accompli as she did with the stadium and begin immediate demolition. And, as if that is not enough, the koala population might also have a chance to survive with a promised immediate moratorium on deforestation of koala habitat. Hang in there, Blinky Bill. Nola Tucker, Kiama

20 February, 2019
‘Flood risks museum treasures’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Parramatta is in danger of disastrous flash flooding (‘‘Parramatta flash flood risk: nine minutes to escape’’, February 19), yet the state government persists with its proposed move of the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to an already flood-prone site in Parramatta. This puts the precious collections of the Powerhouse at risk as well as endangering potential tenants/residents of the high rise tower planned for the site to fund the move.
Marina Garlick, Balmain

Such a move seems reckless. Machinery such as the Boulton & Watt steam engine or the Strasburg Clock (to name just two of hundreds of such items) will be gone forever – they cannot be replaced or even just dried out and polished up again after a flash flood. Merona Martin, Meroo Meadow

12 February, 2019
‘Conflict of interest?’
(Sydney Morning Herald; unpublished)
After considering evidence from the 13th hearing into Museums and Galleries, it seems the fate of the  Powerhouse Museum’s collection at Ultimo is in limbo. The Trustees  are the guardians of the collection.  It may be of interest to note that two members of the current Trust, Professor Glover and Mr Borger were the chief instigators behind ex-Premier Baird’s decision to demolish Ultimo, and others are involved in property development. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

11 February, 2019
‘Ice in her veins’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
It speaks volumes seeing the Berejiklian government trumpeting its Macquarie Rink Interim Heritage Order – yet another triumph in the “sport v culture” wars – while sending bulldozers through historic town squares, beloved museums, federation garden suburbs and tree-lined avenues of honour (“‘Locked in’: ice rink’s future guaranteed as heritage site“, February 3). A case of skating while thin ice melts?  Walter Salmon, Clovelly

What a pity the Powerhouse Museum does not contain a re-creation of Sydney’s old Glaciarium ice rink. Clearly the skating lobby wields more influence than museum supporters when it comes to proposed redevelopments.  Gillian Appleton, Paddington

22 January, 2019
‘A biased Board?’
(Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
I am unhappy that the SMH subtitling on today’s Powerhouse Museum story (“Powerhouse unhappy with ALP pledge” 21 January) and Professor Glover’s pronouncement of Labor’s announcement as “insufficient” would have the casual reader assume that he actually speaks for the Powerhouse Museum community.  Your reporter Linda Morris in her 22nd December report lists new 3 year appointments to the Board of The Powerhouse.  While all are upstanding individuals I am sure nothing points to their relevance as members of a Museum Board except the obvious bias towards the advice they will give on the entirely vexed and contentious question of the Museum  re-location.  This is a sad political move and must be rejected.  The Government has clearly paved the path to re-location for their own purposes which have nothing to do with the history and ongoing healthy development of this illustrious Museum.  Jane Burns, Randwick

‘Power to museums’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Wonderful news: the Powerhouse to remain in situ (‘‘Labor’s museum position gives voters a clear choice’’, January 21). Years ago, the government nominated a weekend for free entry to all museums. I remember the Powerhouse being awash with prams. Parents and children having the best time and being allowed to bring their own food. Now they charge to just walk in the door. Museums are for the public. Special one-off shows have to charge for entry. That is the practice all over the world. One can enjoy a very pleasant day at the AGNSW. The Powerhouse used to be just that, now display and presentation are abysmal. The government knows the value of land but truly has not got a clue as to the value of its collection. Maybe they should have a worldwide sale. It would raise hundreds of millions. Money and real-estate is the name of the game in this city.  Anthony Pittorino, Darlinghurst

4 January, 2019
(Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
‘Blue-sky thinking’ (Editorial, SMH Jan 3 2019) – more like ‘pie-in-the-sky’ thinking. By mid-afternoon on a hot day the summer nor’easter has sent to Western Sydney Basin dangerously unhealthy particulate and photo-chemical SMOG from massive toll roads and unfiltered stacks in the inner west. Parramatta is the planned epicentre of this government-driven overdevelopment and car dependency. Western Sydney suffers the consequences – a brown, eye-watering, ‘cloud of impending doom.’ Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea

30 December, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
The descendants of those who built the Australian Museum’s Pacific Collection are right to be concerned that their “gift of history” is trumped by commercial values. It is a slight to donors and the descendants of the South Sea Islanders when their cultural heritage is moved off site to less accessible storage. (‘Families protest moving treasures’ SMH Dec 29 – 30 2018). But where will the Australian Museum’s Pacific Collections fit on the Castle Hill site? The displaced Pacific collections will join 400,000 objects from the Powerhouse Museum at Castle Hill. At this rate it will have to be the Tardis of Sydney to fit all the state’s collections, soon to be hidden away in storage while the NSW government pursues its demolition plans for the Powerhouse Museum site. No matter how much effort is made with public access opportunities, Castle Hill will never be as accessible or convenient as visiting the Australian Museum on William St or the soon to be demolished Powerhouse at Ultimo. Unfortunately under this government commercial income and real estate values take precedence over cultural heritage and the collections endowed by generations of donors, held in trust for the whole community. Jennifer Sanders, Russell Lea

23 December, 2018
(The Sun Herald)
‘Driven by greed’

Surely our cultural icons “are highest and best use” when all factors are taken into account, rather than only considered real estate for greedy over-development (“Value of Powerhouse site soars by $220m”, December 16).
Is the Sydney Opera House for sale? The Art Gallery of NSW? The Australian Museum? The Museum of Contemporary Art on its prime harbourside site and currently paying the government only a peppercorn rent. Why is the Powerhouse Museum for sale and why has it determined that the existing use of the Ultimo site, as a much-loved museum, was no longer “the highest and best use”? Does this soulless, venal NSW government and its misguided advisers know the cost of everything and the value of nothing? Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea

‘Money for jam: Gladys the generous’
How much will Parramatta council’s riverbank land be worth after state government buy it for $100 million and then rezone for two giant supertowers and a basement museum to go on it? (Power surge: price of Ultimo site soars ‘$220m’ ahead of museum move, Dec 16.)
It’s all money for jam for the state government; [while they boast Gladys the generous for giving $30m towards a replacement Parramatta public pool – which they demolished for a new football stadium.   Seems to me]… Parramatta ratepayers are the real losers, having to go without a pool for years after it was bulldozed, and now we are paying for a new one while losing hectares more of UNESCO world heritage listed Parramatta Park to build it on. The state government will bring “culture” to us westies [with the  promised “world class”, “once in a generation” museum] only IF Parramatta council sell the prime riverbank land to the Premier [and allow the state government to first build two 50+ story supertowers on it – oh and a museum underneath]. I don’t like the shade of pink lipstick on this pig.  Suzette Meade, Toongabbie (with original text included)

It is infuriating to see the NSW government putting the Powerhouse Museum site in Ultimo in the hands of developers. With the level of homelessness rising in Sydney and other areas of the state it would be a kinder gesture to use the area to build social housing. One must agree with MP Robert Borsak of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party when he said the decision was driven by greed. The decision to move to Powerhouse away from Ultimo is the first wrong decision and to sell the area to developers is disgraceful.  Robyn Lewis, Raglan

10 December, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
Premier’s stadium deal premium reveals cavalier attitude
Either there is something seriously wrong with the NSW government’s procurement practices, or the independence of the planning approval system must be questioned (“Challenge to secret stadium deal“, December 8-9). The Berejiklian government’s award of a “demolition and construction contract” for a new stadium at Moore Park, prior to the plans for the new structure being approved should be a matter of significant concern for NSW residents.
If, as Minister Ayres claims, the planning approval will not increase the $730 million contract cost, then the government is already paying a premium for “unknowns”.
This cavalier attitude to the exactitude required of tendering for major infrastructure projects may go some way to explaining the appalling cost overruns experienced in public infrastructure projects in NSW.  Kate Mackaness, Box Hill

All aboard for the Premier’s very fast train to political oblivion.
Passengers may observe some of Gladys’ landmark cost-busting projects en route from Macquarie Street.
First stop, George Street for one of the nation’s greatest cock-ups, then on to the Domain where green space is to be sacrificed for Sydney Modern. Onwards to Moore Park, another innovation – destruction of a functioning stadium.
At nearby Randwick passengers can see how the racing industry has influenced felling of hundreds of trees to provide easy access to a new punters’ pub.
On to Parramatta where the Powerhouse Museum is to be relocated to a smaller flood-prone building that few can access and no one wants.
Departure time to be advised when a competent driver can be spared from a shrinking pool in the public transport system. Probably around March. Leo Schofield, Potts Point

22 November, 2018
‘The fine art of taking public land’
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
No amount of tinkering with the design and PR campaigns to appease critics can conceal this fact: the Sydney Modern Project’s art gallery extension will alienate many thousands of square metres of irreplaceable Domain public green space which, like the land lost to build the Cahill Expressway, will never be returned (“Sydney Modern Project approved as critics appeased”, November 21). Gillian Appleton, Paddington

I was concerned to read Michael Brand’s reference to Sydney Modern as the “largest public-private partnership of its kind in the Australian arts”. My understanding is that the ‘private’ contribution is philanthropy – nothing more, nothing less. The Art Gallery of NSW is a not-for-profit public institution for the display of artworks. Brand’s choice of words and the images released to date suggest otherwise.  Neil Wilson, Redfern

It’s easy to claim that Sydney Modern has appeased its critics when the assessment was conducted behind closed doors by the Department of Planning after public statements of support by the Arts and Heritage Ministers.  What, were they going to knock it back? Minor re-design does not mitigate the theft of Sydney’s most significant parkland, dedicated in 1792, and protected by its trustees and generations of governments until now. Sydney Modern may have the approval of the Department of Planning but it does not have the approval of the community. Like the demolition of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Modern was cooked up by powerbrokers, to take public land on the basis of a confected secret business case and what passes as planning in modern Sydney. It’s not art. It’s cultural vandalism.
Kylie Winkworth, Newtown (original version)

1 November, 2018
‘Staff steamed up over idle, damaged Powerhouse Museum objects’
Following Linda Morris’s article in the Sydney Morning Herald (Read more) , comments from readers  1 Nov 2018 SMH Comments  include:

salti: This is an absolute disgrace. This incompetent state government should be ashamed. But of course they won’t be because they don’t care and have no interest in museums or anything else in this state that remotely pretends to be Art and culture.

Sir Rex: I just cannot express how deeply upset I am by this proposed move.
It is nothing but bloody-minded and political with a backwash of selling more public assets thrown in. Most people don’t realise but this museum has been around the Sydney CBD area with various names since 1880 when it was the ‘Technological, Industrial, and Sanitary Museum’. It has been located in Harris street in Ultimo since 1893.
Moving it is tearing it from its deep connections with its heritage and totally annihilating an important and irreplaceable thing – its sense of place.
I agree with what others have said – moving it will decrease patronage dramatically.
Many visitors now are tourists or local day-trippers. Without quality transport from the CBD, such as high-speed rail to Parramatta, tourists will stop stop visiting as will the local day-trippers. The main patrons will become school groups and day trips from nursing homes… All this heritage lost so this grubby, greedy government can sell still more of Sydney’s heart and soul to their developer mates.

ibast: As someone who lives in the Western suburbs and who’s partner works in the Arts I have to say the move to Parramatta is a joke. sure it’ll get some initial numbers but in a few years it will be struggling and will eventually shut down. People in the West just don’t have the time, money or inclination to patronise the Arts and every attempt to bring Arts to the west in the past has either failed or requires huge amount so taxpayer funding. Also consider no-one from interstate or overseas is going to visit it in Parramatta, but do make up a small, but significant percentage of visitors at it’s current location. the move is a huge waste of taxpayer’s money and it is ultimately doomed to fail. but only after it has sucked in even more taxpayers money.

25 October, 2018
‘Parramatta’s lost history’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Full marks to David Borger for advocating the return of the Roxy to the role of entertainment hub (“Pub or music hub: battle over the Roxy’s role“, October 24).
While he is busy lamenting the loss of Parramatta’s DNA perhaps he might find time to lobby the state government to retain 1870s Willow Grove and 1880s St Georges Terrace in Phillip Street. Both of these are slated for demolition to make way for the cruel hoax that is the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum and construction of associated residential towers.
Just up the street is one of Australia’s oldest hotels, the Royal Oak, about to be flattened because it stands in the way of the unwanted Parramatta Light Rail. The whole of the Cumberland Hospital Precinct including the Female Factory is adjacent to Parramatta Park and presents a once-only opportunity to create a public recreational, arts, historical and museum precinct. Let’s not make it into a high-rise suburb with a light rail through the middle of it.
So many opportunities, so much to lose. Have I mentioned the theft of Parramatta’s War Memorial Pool? Bob Edgar, Westmead

11 October, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Museum Advice’
Well done, Mr Borger! The area of the Female Factory is indeed a remarkable heritage item (‘Creative push for Parramatta’s heritage core’, 11 October). As well as an arts precinct, it could be the home to a local, Aboriginal or migrant history museum and a Questacon to serve the whole city ,where apartment living makes hands-on science activities very difficult. That would make it a world-class arts precinct to rival areas such as Berlin’s museum sector. The whole thing could be financed by not moving the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, thereby preserving its remarkable heritage. The site chosen by the Government for the transplanted Powerhouse was a process rushed through under a non-elected administrator and its use for that purpose has been strenuously opposed the elected council. [If the new museums were built in the Female Factory area the chosen site could be used for sorely needed open space in the central city. Already there are plans for mass transit to serve the Fleet Street area. This is a win-win-win-win-win idea for everyone except the property developers. So it has not got a chance. Silly me! (Unpublished extra)Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

10 October
‘Farce bigger than the Opera House’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
The fury over the horse-racing promotion on the Opera House has a much deeper cause. (‘Protesters turn out in droves to boo horse race advertising on Opera House’, 9 October). We, the people of Sydney, are angry about decisions being made that only benefit developers, shock jocks and the big end of town. We are sick of the privatisation, the selling off, the destruction of green spaces. We despair at the lack of leadership, the backflips, the bullying. The Opera House farce was just the tipping point. We have had enough and, yes, we are angry.  Jackie Allen, Faulconbridge

OK, after stadiums, Opera House billboards, climate change and the Powerhouse museum, I think I understand the LNP policymaking process. Is it a smart decision? Probably not. Do the people want it? No. Can we hide it? We can try. Can we lie about it? Sure. Will we or our mates make a quid? Absolutely! Rightio, let’s do it! Note the process may be purloined by other parties on an as-needed basis.  Steve Nelson, Neutral Bay

14 September, 2018
‘Powering through’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Thank you for the best news of the day (“Powerhouse fate not yet sealed”, September 13).
My family has enjoyed some inspiring visits to the Powerhouse Museum with our 15 grandchildren. The Powerhouse makes a spectacular venue for special corporate dinners. Utilise more. Think of other great cities of the world. They each have significant and meaningful museums. I am proud of our Powerhouse: the heritage building alone warrants keeping.
Judith Halnan, Seaforth

12 September, 2018
‘…the perfect lesson 101…’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Today I attended the eleventh hearing of the Public Inquiry being conducted by the NSW Government into the proposed removal of The Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta.  It was well attended by a gallery of people who saw the subject focus as particularly important and so presumably had a more than superficial understanding of the questions and answers.  In the first session the three people brought before the Committee of MP’s were all totally experienced and knowledgeable on Museums in general and The Powerhouse history in particular and answered clearly and decisively.  The second session the three people were the responsible Minister and two of his senior public servants.  I couldn ‘t help realizing that their performance by comparison with the three Museum experts was the perfect Lesson 101 on what not to do in approaching public inquiries if the wish is to retain any credibility.   Direct questions were not answered or taken on notice.  Otherwise the Minister wasted time not giving answers but rather talking as if he had no real understanding of the subject.  It made me realize how we are not well served by this kind of lack of depth in policy decision making, especially when the Minister could be spending two billion taxpayer’s dollars.  We deserve better.  Jane Burns, Randwick (unpublished)

12 September, 2018
‘Powerhouse Museum: fate remains in limbo’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
It has become clear that the final business case for the Ultimo Site will not see light of day before the upcoming elections. There is also no doubt that the Government if re-elected will, as planned, close the doors at Ultimo in early 2020. On the other hand few people still believe that the New Museum in Parramatta will actually open its doors by 2023. In the meantime the fate of the staff, volunteers and the entire collection remains in limbo. The Government has shown zero concern for the collateral damage caused by this ill-conceived idea to move an entire museum. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills  (unpublished)

8 September, 2018
‘Liberal Party paying for lack of rural action’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Senior Liberal Party members fear a loss in Wagga Wagga due to a “lacklustre campaign” (“Senior Libs fear Wagga wipeout”, September 7). This is purely a reflection of the NSW government’s extremely lacklustre performance in parts of NSW outside Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. We have a massive drought in this state and the government is not giving anywhere near enough support to affected farmers and communities; we have a government failing to take urgent action over the decades of mismanagement of the Darling River; we have a government ignoring rural infrastructure in urgent need of massive funding and so on.
The government’s priorities? Pulling down and rebuilding two perfectly good stadiums that get used about once a fortnight and relocating an iconic museum. The government deserves to not only lose this byelection but the next state election as well. Peter Nunan, Dareton

7 September, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Last Sunday evening, in what has been described as a global tragedy, the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janiero went up in flames with ninety per cent of its twenty million objects, books and records destroyed. Though not on the same scale, we are witnessing similar destruction here as a bloody-minded state government, despite universal disapprobation, trudges ahead with its crude, developer-driven campaign to dismantle an historic  museum and collection of similar national importance. As a consequence of this irresponsible and inexplicable vandalism, Sydney’s reputation is taking an international battering.
The Art Newspaper, a prestige publication read by every museum director, curator and collector in the world , recently ran a story headlined: $890m Sydney museum move could be most expensive gallery relocation in history. Even allowing for cost blowouts, now pretty much a given in every New South Wales state government project, this is a modest sum. Experts with more experience of museums than the government’s gilded number crunching consultants, expect the cost to be in the region of two billion.
Time to call a halt to this folly. Perhaps the result of today’s Wagga Wagga by-election will send a sobering message to the Libs. Leo Schofield, Potts Point (unpublished)

 4 September, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
The Auditor General is just so correct (SMH Sept 5) to seriously question the role and costs of consultants to government. The greatest problem is that consultancies have become heavily reliant on government revenues and basically do as they are told rather than produce independent assessments.
The decisions to destroy the Powerhouse  are a classic example of this. Much the same could be said of company boards and some of the ridiculously high salaries paid to some chief executives and others. Once a board asks the consultants to recommend the salary of an executive they know that to err on the upside there is no downside—as they will get no further business from that CEO by not puffing his/her salary up. Trevor Kennedy, Millers Point. (unpublished)

16 August, 2018
‘Gallery a Modern tale of Sydney’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
So approval for Sydney Modern is imminent, (SMH ‘Gallery nod would show contempt for objectors’, August 15). [This would be the in-house, secret box-ticking approval by the Planning Minister, who is too scared to put the Sydney Modern plans to an Independent Planning Commission. What a lazy sham.] Can anyone in the NSW government explain why Sydney Modern is not being built in Parramatta, given the Parramatta community’s stated preference for a gallery? It would be 10% of the cost of ‘moving’ the Powerhouse Museum, and more equitable since the city already has two public galleries. But this is Sydney. And Sydney Modern, like the stadium spend-a-thon, demonstrates the power of insiders and business influencers to prevail over good public policy and anything resembling transparent planning.
[All over Sydney the NSW government is laying waste to public parks and trees, carving them up for stadiums, motorways, schools and construction zones. Not even Sydney’s most significant parkland, dedicated in 1792, is safe from development. A good government would have held a public design competition for options to transform this part of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain. The $40m already spent on Sydney Modern might have funded a brilliant series of hanging gardens, a natural gallery open to everyone. We might have had Sydney’s answer to New York’s Highline. But instead the Berejiklian government is lining up the chainsaws and concrete mixers. No amount of art can cover the incivility of this government.] Kylie Winkworth, Newtown (with extra original text added)

So “the Sydney Modern may soon get the secret ministerial tick”, another example of complete disregard for the views of many Sydneysiders by the Berejiklian government (‘Gallery nod would show contempt for objectors’, August 15). Despite a vast amount of objections they have given one Sydney facility (the Art Gallery) the right to destroy another (the Botanic Gardens and Domain). We need more open space not less. Also, we already have an excellent Museum of Contemporary Art – isn’t this Modern? Why do we need to give them competition?
Dallas Griffin, Pyrmont

5 August, 2018
‘Requiems for the death of a great museum’

(Sydney Morning Herald)
Great decision Minister Harwin – all the arts people fighting over the carcass of one of our greatest Museum’s skeleton. A Powerhouse Museum music collection built up over 135 years, live performances of period and modern instruments, (I attended many over the years at the museum), demonstrations of violin making and the only specialist music curator in Australia deleted after a restructure to remove specialists. And what will be left after the government’s thought bubble explosion? A nationally significant music collection not on view, shipped out to storage at Castle Hill with the rest of the collection, a vandalised Powerhouse Museum – the Ultimo site sold off to developers with only the bare 1893 Ultimo Power House buildings left – stripped of their heritage, crammed full of theatre seats and a wafting ‘arts and cultural presence’ – not a museum at all whatever the spin doctors say. All orchestrated by a deranged Government in a dodgy property deal. What a legacy – a cultural necropolis surrounded by over development of ‘super towers’ on a destroyed Powerhouse Museum site. Sure, let the Brandenburg play there – requiems for the death of a great museum. (‘Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s ‘vagabonds’ seek a place to call home’, 3 August, 2018). Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea (unpublished)

2 August, 2018
(The Daily Telegraph)
‘Why museum is suffering’
Satyajeet Marar (‘A Powerhouse of profits’, 1/8) is way off the mark. The Powerhouse was extensively privately funded, particularly the collections. The whole thing has now gone to pot because of the uncertainty of its future. Who is going to donate when they don’t know where their money or objects are going to finish up? We are standing by while one of the great institutions is destroyed. Trevor Kennedy, Millers Point

2 August, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Government on different page from the people’
Is this what NSW is about now (‘‘Libraries call for help balancing the books’’, August 1)? Funding cuts to public libraries, $500,000 given to the greyhound racing industry (following on the heels of another mass grave), Powerhouse Museum handed over to developers and billions spent on stadiums? Sandra McMullan, Five Dock

 Arts Minister Don Harwin has said the Berejiklian government was committed to working with councils to enhance library services and facilities across the state. By cutting the budget by 5 per cent? To pay for the new stadiums, maybe?  Tony Mitchell, Hillsdale

31 July, 2018
‘No surprise the Minister has no time to fund the arts.’

(‘Arts bodies protest as state funding slows to a trickle’ SMH 31st July). No time – but there is the money somewhere in the government’s coffers. For the arts perhaps not – the princely sum of $256,029 was granted to only 6 out of 222 applicants from across NSW which speaks volumes about the government’s commitment to culture in this state. And it’s chicken feed compared to the $10 million wasted so far on consultants on the Powerhouse Museum ‘move’ – a merchant bankers’ thought bubble that will cost NSW $1.5bn and counting. The Minister is too busy delivering developers’ wet dreams of 80 storey super towers of unsellable apartments on the museum’s Ultimo site and the flood prone Parramatta site – destroying heritage in his wake. Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea  (unpublished)

27 July, 2018
‘Another chapter in cursed story of the Powerhouse’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
So Dolla Merrillees has left the building (‘‘Failed fashion ball claims Powerhouse boss’’, smh.com.au, July 26). And so Gladys and Don plough on with the move to Parramatta, despite massive opposition, with their demolition derby to wilfully destroy a splendid and much-loved cultural institution with a great history and irreplaceable collection. They have tried every trick in the book, claimed that the building is unsound, that Parramatta is panting for the move, offered to retain a fashion museum and to build a lyric theatre on the site. Is there no way to stop what is plainly an insane decision? Leo Schofield, Potts Point

Of the 264 guests at the ball, only 121 had paid for their tickets. Perhaps the 121 felt they had done their bit, at $1000 a pop. But what of the 143 others, who came to this event for free? One person gave a $1000 donation and another three were able to stump up $50 each to help preserve the history of Australia’s fashion industry. That means that at least 139 people attended a charity ball and didn’t give a cent – that is, you were more likely to meet miserly hangers-on and has-beens at this party than generous fashion enthusiasts. Has the Powerhouse Museum considered running a chocolate wheel in the foyer? Ellen Hrebeniuk, Lidcombe

Bread and circuses was how the Roman poet Juvenal described it. In modern Sydney terms, fashion dinners and stadiums. As Sydney’s liveability continues to burn round our ears, Gladys ‘‘Nero’’ Berejiklian and her cohorts blithely continue to spend our money on things we never asked for and don’t want, fail to get any of their sums right and think it’s a brilliant idea to trash one of our finest cultural institutions, the Powerhouse Museum, for some vague ideological nonsense which is more about vote winning than anything else. This is just how the Roman Empire collapsed. Time for Gladys to read the history books. Michael Morton-Evans, Mosman

Public museums and galleries increasingly have to fund-raise to compensate for falling government support. But behind the Powerhouse Museum’s fashion ball is the government’s decision to leave only fashion and digital design at the long-established Ultimo site. Arts Minister Don Harwin should know that the applied arts of the Powerhouse have a history of relationships between art and industry, social history, designing and making, decorative arts and crafts, and science and technologies. Fashion is just one aspect of this part of the extensive collection, alongside furniture, textiles, ceramics, glass, jewellery and metalwork, musical instruments and many more and digital is just one aspect of innovative designing and making processes across time. In the released business case papers, there is little recognition that this part of the collection – and its value for wider audiences around the state, the country and the world – is a priority for the future in the new museum in Parramatta and it appears that much of the collection will now be in storage at Castle Hill. They should spend the money on reviving the museum in Ultimo and establishing something in Parramatta, for Parramatta.
Grace Cochrane, Summer Hill

Sadly, former MAAS trustee Ms Gene Sherman appears to have missed the whole point of MAAS in paying tribute to its recent Fashion Ball as a rebranding exercise. Any such exercise that focuses primarily on fashion, or any other solitary subject, sells both the Museum and NSW seriously short.  Rather than causing a ‘crisis of identity’, the Museum’s outstandingly diverse and eclectic collection is precisely its unique strength and should be understood, respected and acclaimed as such. Design and technology, which are integral to all made things, give the collection its clear identity and bring critical insights into both the applied sciences and the applied arts, including fashion. In order to safeguard this incomparable collection and to maintain the rare balance it creates with those of the Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of NSW, the government must abandon its betrayal of MAAS and leave it intact in Ultimo, where it belongs.  In so doing, and in purpose-building a superb museum and gallery that the people of Parramatta actually want, the NSW government may help rescue its ruined reputation.
Christina Sumner, Cammeray (unpublished)

The sad denouement of the Powerhouse ‘move’ to Parramatta has reached its inevitable ‘Yes Minister’ moment. To lose one director is unfortunate; to lose 2 is carelessness; to lose 3 in 6 years is catastrophic. A hapless Trust is restless – now blamed for the Minister’s mess. Watch this space! Monty Python would be proud of this Minister who now delivers a developer’s ‘wet dream’ of 80 storey towers of unsellable apartments on both Ultimo and Parramatta sites. Result? The Powerhouse Museum destroyed at Ultimo – a theatre no one wants crammed into a heritage building, a vacuous ‘arts and cultural presence’ and apartment buildings crowding out Harris Street and the Goods Line, all obliterating 135 years of history in Ultimo. This insanity must end! Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea (unpublished)

23 July, 2018
‘A knight for the museum?’
The QVB could have become a car park (‘‘Once a monstrosity, now a treasure’’, July 21-22). Isn’t it time for people of influence to stand up to the planned replacement of the Powerhouse Museum by apartment blocks and as yet undefined so-called cultural presence? Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

With all the celebration surrounding the 120th anniversary of this magnificent structure I think it only fitting that people be reminded it was the efforts of a union that saved this piece of our history from the greed and shortsightedness of the developers. Peter Richardson, Coniston

10 July, 2018
Public meeting … ‘outraged opposition to act of vandalism’
I attended a public meeting convened on site at Parramatta on Sunday to consider a proposed demolition of an historic house as well as a row of adjacent terraces in Phillip Street, Parramatta. The meeting was called by a North Parramatta community action group. The beautiful house is Willow Grove, one of a diminishing number of historic sites in Parramatta as the CBD expands.
Approximately 300 persons attended this meeting, with unanimous feeling being outraged opposition to this act of vandalism from the NSW government. This follows on from several instances of heavy-handed destruction in recent times in Parramatta in the interests of ‘progress’. The elimination of the Parramatta swimming pools in order to enable the construction of the Western Sydney Stadium is fresh in the minds of residents.
Willow Grove and the terraces are earmarked for elimination to facilitate the proposed new Powerhouse Museum to be built on flood-prone riverside land adjacent to them. Parramatta MP Geoff Lee and Premier Gladys Berejiklian were invited to attend the meeting but neither replied to the invitation. Parramatta Council is opposed to the proposal but it seems that the wishes of the state government prevail. It seems to me that any government which treats its electorate with such arrogant indifference is on a slippery slope to oblivion. Paul Mahoney, Oatlands

In Denmark’s Copenhagen a disused shipyard (close to the Opera House) is to reopen as a permanent contemporary art centre. It is expected to attract 100,000 visitors per year. We are “very happy” to open this kunsthalle says its director. And here in Sydney what plans does the government have for our once-disused inner-city power station site? David Rose, Hamilton

‘Pie in the sky ideas’
Another day another pie in the sky thought bubble by the NSW government (“CBD rail station will link Wynyard and Martin Place”, July 9). Would it make more sense to finish the above ground fiascos before starting on an underground project? With a state election looming on March 23 why would the ALP want to inherit so many present and future disasters? The funds raised by privatisation of publicly owned assets will not last forever and there is not much left to sell off unless they have the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge in their minds. Robyn Lewis, Raglan

6 July, 2018
‘Degutting heritage for commercial culture’
(Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
For years we have been hearing that an “Iconic Museum” will be appearing on the banks of the Parramatta river. The cost of this project has escalated and cannot go ahead without a major commercial development input. As highlighted by the Action Group this commercial development will have a major impact on local heritage.
As this is going on, please spare a thought for the current Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo. All signs indicate that the unfortunately non heritage listed Wran and Harwood buildings will be handed over to developers. The “semi” heritage Powerhouse itself will be internally degutted to make way for the so called “cultural precinct”. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

21 June, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
A suggestion for the Premier: since your government has no sense of the importance of historical buildings, why not move the NSW Parliament to Parramatta, where Old Government House is still situated, leaving the existing Macquarie St premises to be used in a similar way to the Old Commonwealth Parliament House (“Stadium build waits on final business case”, June 20). By leaving the Powerhouse would enable the politicians to be situated in the geographic centre of Sydney. There is sufficient material in the Castle Hill warehouse to add a museum to the new premises in Parramatta. Anna Petersons, Cheltenham

To the Powerhouse move, the stadium rebuild, the Tibby Cotter bridge to nowhere and the light rail projects, I would like to add the redevelopment of the Thirlmere Railway Museum. With an initial budget of $14 million, the project blew out to more than $35 million on completion, with a less than satisfactory outcome. In brief, it has no suitable facilities for the restoration of carriages and locomotives. Please Premier, could we have greater scrutiny and accountability of projects for a better value for money outcome? Murray Smithers, Marulan

20 June, 2018
(The Daily Telegraph)
The NSW government claims a surplus of $3.9 billion, reaped from selling our public assets including the Land Titles office, poles and wires, and heritage city buildings such as the Department of Education and Lands. If the state Liberals are re-elected, and if there’s anything left to sell, the Powerhouse and Crown Lands could be the next to go to balance the books. Lynette Saville, Chatswood

 19 June, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
With all the state government pre-election spending promises it seems that, after selling off all its family silver, the Premier is tossing us a few plastic forks. Chris Baker, Normanhurst

 18 June, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
Gladys Berejiklian and Co are starting to look like Joh Bjelke-Petersen with their sneaky and secretive plans to demolish eight Parramatta heritage buildings, archaeological sites etc, and the Ultimo Powerhouse Museum precinct as well. A French girl at the hairdressers asked my wife why we destroy anything old. We don’t do that in France, she said. Alan Carruthers, Artarmon

 Letter writers have asked why the Premier doesn’t wait until after the election to move the Powerhouse museum and spend over $1 billion building new stadiums. But the, what would she say to the developers? Paul Ettema, Riverview

18 June, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Parramatta deserves better’
What she says – loud and clear (Elizabeth Farrelly: “Parramatta a victim of elitist land grab”, June 16-17). It is no good throwing money at schools and ambulances (as welcome as that may be) just before an election without addressing some of the land grabs and privatisations which have caused so much pain and so much lost history. Tourists come to see something different – something reflecting the growth and history of an area, not just a conglomeration of massive towers with no soul. Doreen Howard, South Hurstville

With the government business case supported by the local council to bulldozer the heritage of Parramatta the city name should be changed to Dozenmatta. Ian Ferrier, Paddington

Given the NSW Liberals continue to flog our assets, perhaps we need a new party headed by Bon Jovi. They’ll be here in December with their tour This House Is Not For Sale, a winning party slogan if ever I heard one.  Emma Kirkman, Carlton

‘Vote buying breathtaking in disdain for families’
The vote buying coming from the Liberal state government pre-election budget is breathtaking in its disdain for the average NSW family (“The tactics behind the budget”, June 16-17). Reducing payroll tax will do nothing to bring down the cost of living and “free rego” for toll road users is an appalling subsidy that masks the enormous social cost of Sydney’s poorly planned toll roads. Households are being crushed by energy prices, tolls, fuel prices and housing rental market values yet this government continues to focus on giving billions to big business. Voters should remember that the billions the Liberals now appear to be throwing at schools and hospitals has been stolen from our public services and publicly owned assets since 2012.
Tony Heathwood, Kiama Downs

Gladys Berejiklian and co are starting to look like Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the white-shoe brigade with their sneaky and secretive plans to demolish eight Parramatta heritage buildings, archaeological sites, etc, and the Ultimo Powerhouse Museum precinct as well. A French girl at the hairdressers asked my wife why we destroy anything old. We don’t do that in France, she said. Why indeed? Alan Carruthers, Artarmon

Letter writers have asked why the Premier doesn’t wait until after the election to move (dismantle) the Powerhouse Museum and spend over $1 billion building new stadiums that the majority don’t want. But then, what would she say to the developers? Paul Ettema, Riverview

16 June, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘The power of staying put’
I would like our Premier to have the courage to overturn the planned move of the Powerhouse, and leave it where it belongs, and as it was intended when built (Letters, June 15). Not move it, not move half of it as some suggest, but leave it in Ultimo. Whatever the inferred costs are so late down the path, it would have cost nothing if right thinking had preceded the action. It is a public asset in a central city location, and as such, was never up for grabs, whatever the feeble justifications. Just another one greedy government scheme. Giulietta Pellascio, Laguna

Governments love infrastructure projects but the NSW government is finding that consummation is a bridge too far (“Stadium precinct’s pedestrian bridge in ‘wrong place’ “, June 15). No doubt Gladys Berejiklian will claim the title of infrastructure premier, but she badly needs some completed – and useful – projects. James Moore, Kogarah

I beg of the state government to re-consider the demolishing, and rebuilding, of the Allianz Stadium, and also the removal of the Powerhouse Museum until after March 19 election. It’s a simple request. The concern of many voters is the speed, the determination, and the secrecy the state Liberal Party, with little public consultation, has shown to the masses in chasing their fanatical dream before the next election. We only have to look at same Government’s handling of the $38 million (taxpayer funded) Tibby Cotter bridge to nowhere, not to mention the light rail construction that looks like it’s essentially stopped work, to realise we are governed by non-qualified people that obviously have little regard for democracy. Dennis Halloran, Paddington

15 June, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Selling museum land is the government’s aim’
It is apparent that demolition of the museum and sale of the valuable land is the prime object of this state government (“‘Demolition’ required to move exhibits”, June 14). In fact, sale of all NSW assets seems to be an obsession of both state and federal Liberal parties. With a collection of more than 500,000 items, and only 6000 on exhibit at any time, every city in the state could assist by having their own local museum. How much could we save by leaving it right where it is and spending the proposed money on new satellite museums? Michael Stephen Emmett, Umina Beach

I shook my head in disbelief about the $65.7 million plus cost of moving the large, precious objects from their purpose-built home at the Powerhouse Museum to a new location at Parramatta, thinking of the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. What a waste of taxpayers’ money. In March 2016, then premier Mike Baird said that the new museum in Parramatta could be “our answer to the Smithsonian”. However the Smithsonian in Washington DC. is not one, but 19 museums including the two campuses of the fabulous National Air and Space Museum. So why can’t our beloved Powerhouse Museum have two campuses, avoiding the need to move Locomotive No. 1, the Catalina flying boat and the other large objects? Dick Pollitt, Mosman

Why can’t this government abandon Baird’s grand design and restore some sanity to what is really needed for Parramatta.  Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

The destruction of the Powerhouse Museum is an act of cultural vandalism without comparison in the modern world. Rather than extend the collection over two iconic sites as has been done in London with the Tate and Tate Modern, or in the USA over several sites with the Smithsonian Institute, the NSW government has opted for ongoing debasement of the state’s cultural, historical and environmental heritage. What a soulless, vapid city politicians are creating. The old joke about a bridge and an opera house for sale is no longer funny. I expect to see them listed in Domain any day now.
Marie-Louise Dreux, Petersham

After all of the expense of the Darling Harbour revamp, the added attraction of a world class museum within easy walking distance of the hotels and the revamped area would make the museum a cash cow. Does the government think tourists are going to get on a train or ferry out to Parramatta when the city is the centre of tourism?
Robin Humphrey, Springwood

If Gladys Berejiklian is confident that the electorate agrees with the rebuilding of the stadiums and the moving of the Powerhouse Museum, she should put both proposals on hold until after the next election. This would allow all people to decide on the future of these major issues, something they are currently denied. Tony Re, Georges Hall

The papers the government released reveal what we always knew about the proposed move of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta: it was never feasible. [Working the figures to make it seem so won’t diminish the looming debacle.] Oh well, all is not lost: I’m pitching the storyline to the producers of Utopia.
Irma Havlicek, Umina Beach (including edits)

15 June, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
‘Erroneous comparisons’
Andy Marks is mistaken (‘Sydney has an insatiable appetite for culture but won’t share the spoils, 14 June) – the Eiffel Tower is not a good example (there are none) for moving the Powerhouse Museum – it is in the cultural and tourism centre of Paris. No other tower was demolished for it to be built – it was intended to be a temporary element in the Paris Exposition, not a permanent presence like the Powerhouse Museum – a fixture in Ultimo since 1893. The Museum was set up in 1880 in the Sydney International Exhibition building in the Botanic Gardens. When this building burnt down in 1882, the Museum was temporarily housed in the Exhibition’s adjacent Agricultural Hall until its new purpose built home opened in Ultimo in 1893. In 1988, the Museum moved across the road to the new purpose built, heritage significant Powerhouse Museum – the award-winning re-purposing of the 1898 Ultimo Power House.
The Eiffel Tower holds no collection nor priceless artefacts that are specific to its location – it is a singular and striking tourist attraction. Mr Marks might also note that a demographic centre is not a physical  centre, particularly of a city built at the edge of a continent – such as New York, Boston, San Francisco, indeed Sydney! Guy de Maupassant ate every day at the Eiffel Tower because that was the only place in Paris from which he could not see it!
Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea

14 June, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘For sale: prime NSW real estate sites’
How long will it be before the NSW government decides to sell off Government House and the Conservatorium of Music (“Museum site was marked for housing”, June 13)? Think of what could be built there. I suppose it will be a decision of cabinet made commercial in confidence and nobody has the right to see the business case. John Bracey, Forestville

‘Half the museum for double the entry fee’
Is anyone really shocked that the NSW government’s Powerhouse Museum business case involves the sale of prime Parramatta real estate so the state government can build two super-towers on our riverbank? In return for the land sell-off it’s been revealed that Parramatta gets half the museum for double the entry fee. What family can afford $150 tickets? It’s cheaper for a family of four to take a train from Western Sydney to visit the Powerhouse in Ultimo than the proposed planetarium. [City of Parramatta Councillors need to seriously look at this dud deal that was done by the administrator while they were in forced exile.]
This should be the start of a great cultural tourism economy for western Sydney. Instead what we are being offered is a second-rate hatchet job.
Suzette Meade, (Secretary, North Parramatta Residents Action Group), Toongabbie

The NSW government selling off iconic sites for development? Well I never, what will they think of next? Janine Burdeu, Mona Vale

14 June, 2018
(The Australian, unpublished)
‘The true facts about one of Australia’s oldest museums’
Please draw the attention of your NSW Political Editor Andrew Clennell to the inaccurate statements in his 13th June article “Development tower ‘powers museum move’ “.  He states that the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences is also known as the Powerhouse and that the museum is 30 years old. Perhaps he would like to read the true facts about one of Australia’s oldest museums and its award winning Powerhouse site from the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ own website. “We are Australia’s contemporary museum for excellence and innovation in applied arts and sciences. Established in 1879, our venues include Powerhouse Museum [from 1988], Sydney Observatory and Museums Discovery Centre. We are uniquely placed to demonstrate how technology, engineering, science and design impact Australia and the world. Internationally, MAAS is acknowledged for the calibre of our collection, scholarship and exhibitions. Our collection spans history, science, technology, design, industry, decorative arts, music, transport and space exploration. It is also home to the material heritage and stories of Australian culture, history and lifestyle, providing a comprehensive insight into this rich and diverse country. There is estimated to be well over 500,000 separate items in the MAAS collection.” Christine Ellis, Avalon Beach

12 June, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Museum puzzle’
One of the ludicrous justifications for removing the Powerhouse Museum is that it’s off the beaten tourism track and difficult to access (‘‘Out of Egypt: City’s King Tut coup’’, June, 11). Yet both the Art Gallery of NSW and Australian Museum are to have millions spent on improvements or additions. Are College Street and The Domain easier to access than Darling Harbour?  Keith Parsons, Newcastle

‘Paranoid government’
Just a quick note to the NSW government (‘‘Stadiums file kept away from ministers’’, June 11). If you can’t trust members of the inner circle of your own government with information vital to government decision making how unsettling, suspicion-raising and untrustworthy are you then seen by the rest of the community? It can affect any judgment about voting next March.  Anne Finnane, Marlee

If the cabinet is not informed, what chance has the public (ie taxpayers) got? The next NSW state election is only eight months away. The government is shooting itself in the foot by adopting this secrecy policy. What has it got to hide?  Michael Wilson, St Ives

8 June, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Win for democracy sends message to Premier’
Now that the state government has been forced to release the documentation regarding the new stadiums and museums, I hope we will be able to find in there somewhere the proviso that everyone involved in the original, no doubt costly, build is excluded (“Powerhouse, stadium papers see light of day”, June 7). This should include the planners, architects, engineers, builders and certifiers.
If that combined brains trust is not capable of building a structure that can last 30 years before needing to be pulled down and replaced they should not be let within a bull’s roar of any new construction. They should also be named and shamed to protect anyone else from being caught in this predicament. Ron Wessel, Mount St Thomas

It’s heartening to see the Berejiklian government taken down a peg or two. Matthew Mason-Cox may have earned the ire of his party, but he has done the people of NSW and democracy a great service by crossing the floor on this matter.
This battle has been won but the war continues over the future of these contentious policies. Hopefully it sends a message to the Premier, that her authoritarian-style rule is unacceptable. Graham Lum, North Rocks

31 May, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Museum too costly’
One could be forgiven for fearing the NSW Government will never rebuild the Powerhouse Museum at Parramatta. The stated cost of rebuilding is so far below the mark that, after selling the site at Ultimo, the Government will throw its hands in the air and say “Nobody told us!” [Then they might hold the mother-of-all clearing sales, selling off the Collection that belongs to the people of NSW. If they can sell off the building to developers, why not the Collection too?]The Museum belongs in Ultimo. It’s an industrial museum, located in what was once the industrial heart of Sydney. [The science and technology collection needs to stay there, together with the fashion that some pundits want left behind in Ultimo. Fashion wouldn’t exist without the fibre and textile technologies that underpin it. The Museum’s strength lies in the fact that it can tell the whole story. The Museum has been helping our community make sense of the technological world since 1879. For the sake of our future, let it continue doing so. Located near Central Station the Museum is accessible to all.] Sandra McEwen, Austinmer (including edits)

31 May, 2018
(The Daily Telegraph)
‘Living on the outer’
Mike Baird says anyone who cannot see the benefits of moving the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta must be living in a parallel universe. (“Proud Baird slams museum move critics as out of touch”, 29/5). Isn’t this the same politician who sold the Ausgrid poles and wires to a consortium of investors telling the public that this would cut our electricity bills considerably?
Most people would probably live in a parallel universe than the frozen one he has subjected them to this winter. Kenny Butler, St Helens Park

‘Work hard for museum’
Mike Baird says moving the Powerhouse Museum will benefit those in the central part of the city and in the suburbs. The government seems to think that everything should be moved to the West. How about the people in the western suburbs doing a little work and creating their own museums, just as those here did in the past? After all it was not just the government that provided funds and exhibits for the museum.
Or is this a move to try to get the votes of those living in the West? Margaret, Mascot

30 May, 2015
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Powerhouse ideally located’
Mike Baird’s comment at the inquiry into the proposed removal of the PowerHouse Museum that the current site was remote from other cultural locations is ridiculous, considering that it sits on the verge of the Darling Harbour complex with the Convention and Exhibition centres, the Chinese Gardens and the National Maritime Museum all within 10 minutes easy walking (“It’s not about money, says Baird”, May 29). As a tourist and school venue, the Powerhouse is ideally located, with close-by public transport. The Powerhouse is our Smithsonian. The unseen stored treasures could fill a dozen satellite museums if the example of the Smithsonian were to be followed. Peter Wotton, Pyrmont

The Powerhouse numbers just don’t add up. And I thought Mike Baird was a banker. Peter Mahoney, Oatley

Mr Baird might very well have dared us to dream about the Powerhouse move but we shall be left to live with the nightmare. John Truman, St Leonards

More than three years ago the government announced that the Powerhouse Museum will be moved to Parramatta. Since that announcement there has not been any indication as to what part, if any, of the site will escape the bulldozer. Minister Harwin’s announcement that there will be a “cultural presence” retained at Ultimo did not indicate any protection whatsoever for the current infrastructure. Unfortunately, a government hell bent on squeezing every cent out of the Ultimo site have in their power to ignore any heritage issues. On that basis only public opinion can save the museum or at least some or all of its historic buildings. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

‘Come clean Mr Baird’ (unpublished)
Infrastructure NSW and Mr Baird are hiding something! We all know the Powerhouse Museum is ideally located near Central Park, now the busiest hub of Sydney, since Gladys’ light rail debacle. It’s 5 minutes walk from Central Station, numerous bus routes and frequently communicates and organises projects with Sydney University, TAFE, UTS and the ABC. No way is this ‘remote’, Mr Baird. Rosalind Ward, Balmain

5 May, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Museums set sail’
As a kid growing up in Forbes I would go to a big hole in the ground where the locals tipped rubbish and dug out the skeletons of fossil fish (Letters, May 4). We have a beautiful lake and a river runs through the town. So I say move the Maritime Museum to Forbes. Go ahead Premier, put some of those old boats on prime movers and send them west. You’ll get my vote for sure.  Brian Mc Keown, Long Jetty

If the Powerhouse is to be moved to Parramatta, let it be done with due pomp and ceremony. Convey the museum’s contents down the hill to Darling Harbour, load them onto barges, and tow them conspicuously in procession up the Parramatta River to their new riverside home, surrounded by gushing fire tugs and politicians. Hopefully the exhibits will not be making a return journey on some future occasion of significant flooding in the Upper Parramatta River catchment. Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

4 May, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Keep mum on maritime museum’
Oh no, Jeffrey Mellefont, please don’t mention the Australian National Maritime Museum (Letters, May 3). The Premier might put it next on her list of cultural vandalism. Maybe it could be moved to Forbes or Wilcannia, where the locals could get a taste of the sea. Bill Tango, Manly

 ‘Massive task’
If moving the Boulton and Watt engine to Parramatta is a challenge, I would have thought moving the Powerhouse is an even greater one (Letters, May 3). All those bricks.  Kerry Norrie, Avalon Beach

4 May, 2018
(SMH unpublished)
I hope Gladys and her team are starting to worry about the coming election – I am just one of the many New South Wales voters who abhor the decision to dismantle the Powerhouse Museum. Kylie Winkworth has summed it up perfectly – what other world class city would even contemplate destroying part of its heritage? By world standards, Sydney is a young city, we need to retain as much of its history as we can. Unfortunately, the truth is that this Government has cooked up a plan to sell the site with the excuse that the Powerhouse Museum will be more effectively housed elsewhere – oh, and don’t forget the Fashion and Design Museum and Lyric Theatre to be put in its place – even though the Powerhouse already holds an extensive fashion design and textile collection. As for the Lyric Theatre, do you really think that is any compensation for the loss of a purpose built museum which, given the recent upgrading of the Ultimo precinct, can become even more attractive destination for visitors to Sydney. We are not happy. Virginia Hackney, Pacific Palms

3 May, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Museum move shows the lack of respect for public’
Kylie Winkworth is right, the Powerhouse Museum is being being trashed (“Powerhouse plan betrays people of NSW”, May 2). I certainly did not donate my collection of fashion and pictorial images to see them sent out to a new site vulnerable to floods.
The current plans for the Powerhouse are an international disgrace. Perhaps a better way to describe what is about to happen is the murder of the museum. David Mist, Paddington

For almost every school holiday of my grandson’s short life he has attended an activity provided by the Powerhouse Museum. There is not the remotest possibility that any one would be able to transport my grandson to Parramatta to continue participating in these activities when the museum moves. Apart from the loss of a wonderful museum, the future removal of this facility for children is ill-conceived and very sad.
Why can’t we have two museums? Surely Sydney is big enough for two. I can only assume that there is a hidden agenda regarding the site in Ultimo. Lorraine Mulroney , Rosebery

Ms Winkworth’s article makes great logic. Unless you are the present state government. The fact some generic high-rise is already being constructed across the tramlines to the east of the Powerhouse shows this government is totally unconcerned with the historical significance of the site. No longer is it possible to view the Powerhouse as the building deserves.
If the government needs to reward developers, they should demolish the hotel buildings that line Murray Street, Pyrmont. Viewed from Darling Harbour, these buildings, with the ugly car park prominent, are a blot on the western landscape. Ian Fisher, Darlinghurst

It is right to condemn the closure and destruction of the Powerhouse. The state government has form in this area with the demolition of the previous Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour. It continues to waste taxpayer money on providing opportunities for its developer mates to make millions by knocking down old (and not so old) structures to build unnecessary replacements. History will show this government has no respect for our cultural history, heritage or environment. Tony Heathwood, Kiama Downs

Ms Winkworth got it absolutely right in every respect except for saying it was “the last major museum to open in Sydney” in 1988. The Australian National Maritime Museum opened in 1991, also thanks to the vision of Neville Wran, who collaborated with then prime minister Bob Hawke to put a new national cultural institution not in Canberra but on NSW government land in Darling Harbour. Jeffrey Mellefont, Coogee

2 May, 2018
(The Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Sydney a cultural desert’
Berlin, a city of 3.7 million has 170 museums (Letters, May 1). Sydney, an aspiring world city with a population of 5 million can barely count its museums on the fingers of one hand. Tourists struggle to find things to do when arriving in Sydney. It’s a cultural desert. Crushing the Powerhouse gives visitors one less reason to come.  Phil Morey, Kalaru

Do you think the Brits would move the Natural History Museum or National Gallery from Central London to Croydon or Watford?  Michelle Howes, Redfern

1 May, 2018
(The Illawarra Mercury)
‘Treating us with contempt’
This weekend’s Sydney Morning Herald (April 28) announced that the government has controversially agreed to fund the moving of the Powerhouse Museum to Paramatta at a cost of $645 million dollars.
Do you realise that this is enough money to fund the Gong Shuttle for two hundred years? And the government intends to spend huge sums on sports stadiums in Sydney So is the Berejiklian government simply treating Wollongong with contempt, or is the Department of Transport incompetent in negotiating funding? Joan Zealy, Balgownie

1 May, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Parramatta or Ultimo?’
Drive around Parramatta and have a look at the schools packed to the rafters in portable classrooms, understaffed hospital, homeless people, unemployed and ill people waiting for Godot in the mall. Check out the really crowded trains and and clogged roads in Parramatta CBD now, so what does this government want to give them? A planetarium. Why not stop this craziness and reassess: no more stadiums, toll roads, and moving a perfectly good museum.
Joy Goodsell, Leura

(The Daily Telegraph)
There is not a valid business case to move the Powerhouse to Parramatta.
Sydney could copy the Tate model where there are multiple sites across England — two in London, one in Liverpool, etc — and touring exhibitions could go to both sites. There are many items owned by the Powerhouse Museum which are permanently in storage.
Tourists to Sydney will never have the time to go to Parramatta. The public has never been told why the Powerhouse is the only museum singled out for removal. Nor do the costs really justify the transfer.
All Sydney would benefit from two sites. At one of the consultation meetings last July, Parramatta representatives clearly stated their preference was for a museum which reflected their city’s heritage. The government has also not clearly disclosed that the proposed site is in a known flood zone. The money for the large-scale repairs is not a valid reason to move when the cost of removal is so huge. S. Coleman, Sydney

30 April, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Government rides rough-shod’
What arrogance! (“Moving Powerhouse to top $1b”, Sun-Herald, April 29). The Berejiklian government is now proposing a bigger, better, brighter and especially taller development for the Powerhouse site in Ultimo. This is despite the objections of citizens and museum experts. This is despite not locating a business case for the project that was demanded by its own upper house inquiry. Why should we bother trying protect a community or a valued institution when the government just does what it wants?  Manuela Epstein, Pyrmont

It is sad to note that the so-called battlers of western Sydney could have had a free-standing purpose-designed museum without having a 50-storey apartment block overbearing it. Also they could have still had the opportunity to hop onto a limited-stop fast train and take the journey to Central and walked the Goods Line to a museum that exists today. Instead they will be walking towards a comprehensibly trashed Ultimo site now home to an ill-defined concept called a design and fashion museum. This is an insult to the memory of a museum that only 30 years ago was one of the pillars of the Bicentenary celebrations.  Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

The egregious, vainglorious, and saddening announcement about the fate of the Powerhouse, from Gladys and our state government, was expected. For the first time in 75 years I shall vote Labor at the next election.  Christopher Davis, Gundaroo

27 April, 2018
‘Governments must act on recycling’
(Brisbane Times, and Sydney Morning Herald)
Why not use the billions earmarked for rebuilding stadiums and moving the Powerhouse Museum into developing a state-of-the-art recycling centre? Get government back to its core purpose of providing services to the community. Peter Wilson, Quorrobolong

26 April, 2018
‘Cultural precinct for Parramatta’

(Sydney Morning Herald)
The new Sydney Modern wing of the Art Gallery NSW should be built at Parramatta, along with a new, and not relocated, Powerhouse Museum (“Gallery gains trees and new facade after complaints”, April 25). Wouldn’t that create a magnificent cultural precinct acknowledging Parramatta as a true Western Sydney City. Such a decision would also show inspired leadership from our government.  Julie Whitfield, Collaroy

26 April, 2018

‘Check the argument!’
(The Daily Telegraph, unpublished)
According to her own figures, Anna Caldwell’s argument that the Powerhouse Museum is the ‘domain of the inner city elite’ (“Great gallery divide”, 25 April) doesn’t hold up. If only 25 % of visitors are from the inner city, that means 75% are from western and regional NSW, other Australian states and countries overseas. Surely that is what you would expect from a state museum! It reflects its well-established identity, its collection significance and its radial accessibility. Audiences are more than numbers; those figures will not transfer to a different venue. Mayor Andrew Wilson’s desire for a ‘flagship arts institution’ could start with a regional gallery which would directly benefit local artists and audiences, like every other similar city (such as Campbelltown and Manly), and a museum relevant to Parramatta’s own significant history. No other city institutions are being forced to move, but all can contribute.
Grace Cochrane, Summer Hill

20 April, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Governments should ignore experts

Most would not be surprised that the advice of independent experts was disregarded by Transport for NSW (“Report reveals culture of mistrust in NSW transport”, April 19). Governments frequently ignore the advice of experts when it’s not to their liking, so I suggest they stop wasting taxpayer funds on consultants. They should simply dispense with the whole charade, and just impose their disastrous plans on us, à la the Berejiklian government.  Graham Lum, North Rocks

The NSW government has done its best to hide a raft of controversial matters such as the Land Titles Office privatisation, the light rail cost blowout, WestConnex, the Powerhouse and stadiums. Secretive transport chiefs are only following the bad example set by Cabinet.
Peter Mahoney, Oatley

19 April, 2018
(The Daily Telegraph)
I have been following Parramatta Council debates but can find no discussions of the Powerhouse move since the re-elected council took office (‘The west deserves best,’ 18/4). We need to be assured that the idea has the support of the local elected government.
Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

(The Daily Telegraph, unpublished)
30 years ago the Powerhouse Museum was the centre point of the Bicentenary Celebrations. If as you say refurbishment of the museum would cost millions, then surely that is the fault of the current government. (‘Secret  2014 report warned NSW government…’ 18 April). In 2014 a new management was appointed and things were on the up and up, then in early 2015 the government pulled the plug and the site was to be sold to developers. Three years on the management/ staff/volunteers are still living in a sea of uncertainty. Your comment “Wresting a prized museum from the inner city elite …”, is either a noble goal for Parramatta or ends up with visitors looking at a 50-storey apartment block that has no educational value.
Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

18 April, 2018
‘Homework to be done’

(Sydney Morning Herald)
At a time of smoky burn-offs round the city, and in the context of childhood nostalgia for burning in backyard rubbish drums, Andy Marks questions the proposal to build a new incinerator at Eastern Creek (‘Powerhouse stoush adds fuel to fire that is burning talent in western Sydney’, 16 April). But he criticises it in the context of “cultural vandalism” in moving the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, and regional equity for arts funding, saying ‘Critics of the Powerhouse move or other measures to redress … arts investment inequity … might want to consider the potential going up in smoke out West.’ I have to ask: if he is the assistant vice-chancellor at Western Sydney University, does his nostalgia not run to remembering how to do his homework? Does he not read, or listen? Critics of the move of the Powerhouse are very much in favour of a museum – and art gallery – in Parramatta; one that is directly relevant to Parramatta audiences, like all other regional centres! Not, however at the cost of destroying an established state institution. Grace Cochrane, Summer Hill

17 April, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Room for two museums’
I take issue with Andy Marks’ comments that those in favour of keeping the Powerhouse Museum where it is think that those in the West would “probably burn art and break good china” (“Powerhouse stoush adds more fuel to cultural fire”, April 16).
On the contrary, there is much support for building a second museum in Parramatta that could showcase many of the Powerhouse exhibits that are now in storage with little likelihood of being displayed. Sydney is big enough to support another quality museum. Ann Eskens, Crows Nest

16 April, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘NSW government avoids scrutiny’
Your assessment of the NSW government is far too generous (“NSW government: good at big ideas, not the execution”, April 14-15). What we have is a government that has a minimalist understanding of democracy, is hell-bent on selling off as many state assets as possible and embarking on highly dubious projects that are mainly orientated towards the big end of town. Of course, all of this is done with minimal or no public consultation or scrutiny.
Alan Morris, Eastlakes

I cannot agree with your editorial suggesting that the current government has good ideas, but is poor in execution. I do not see much sign of good ideas, much less planning. The ideology of privatisation and outsourcing has become a nightmare for our state. Jock Webb, Narromine

The coyness about releasing a business plan for the Powerhouse, the stadiums, the light rail and more makes one suspect that for many governments and their business buddies, the most precious freedom of all is freedom from democracy. Lloyd Swanton, Wentworth Falls

Once we had a public service, We had engineers, legal eagles, and those with years of experience with government contracts. We then introduced the bonus schemes, and the easiest way to maximise was to get rid of people. We now have to depend upon so-called consultants, all care and very little experience in the complexities of government works. The outcome: contractors making a fortune and we the taxpayers pay. The current eastern suburbs fiasco, win or lose the court case, will cost us billions. We should place the blame with those who don’t understand that it takes real people with experience and skills to deliver major government contracts, and the buck rests with our politicians.  DÁrcy Hardy, North Turramurra

14 April, 2018
‘Powerhouse secrecy means case is flawed’
Liberal Matthew Mason-Cox has my support for one (“Rogue MP angers Libs as Labor backflips”, April 13). We are left to assume the government’s secrecy with their business case can only be because they know it doesn’t stack up. It is also widely known that the Powerhouse has masses of exhibits in storage and there is no reason why the Parramatta Powerhouse can’t also be built and the collections rotated. Why this shocking extravagance by the government?
Kay Buckeridge, Mosman

If the government cannot make a reasonable case open to public scrutiny, then you can only assume it’s not in the public interest. Roger Knight, Turramurra

Mr Mason-Cox has shown that if you have a different opinion to the party room you face being excluded from the Liberal Party room. So much for being a representative of the people. It makes a mockery of being elected by the people of your electorate to represent their views to the Parliament. John Bracey, Forestville

So a senior government source said Mr Mason-Cox’s actions could see him excluded from the Liberal Party room. I thought the Liberal Party believed in the conscience vote.
Tony Brownlow, Cronulla

The Government has decided to destroy the Powerhouse, an internationally recognised gem of science and technology. It’s to be sacrificed by relocation and development. No-one ever comes to cities to visit another apartment block, but millions come to visit world-class institutions. John Burman, Lighthouse Beach

Why refer to Mr Mason-Cox as a “rogue” MP? Surely it is the Government that has gone rogue. Susan Donegan, Invergowrie

Mr Mason-Cox crosses the floor to force the Government to release the Powerhouse business case 90 days earlier. The problem is the Government needs those 90 days to write up the case. Charles Jaggers, Castlecrag

The importance of the Powerhouse is not only the highly significant artefacts inside, but the vision demonstrated by the likes of Neville Wran and Dr Lindsay Sharpe in its creation. Vision, a quality this Government sorely lacks.  Kent Mayo, Uralla

If this Government thought it would get away with it, it would move the Opera House. What a great site for more high-rise. Andrew McPherson, Kalaru

International design competition. Brand new exciting shiny iconic cultural arts venue for Parramatta on high ground. Powerhouse stays where it is. Lots of money saved. No brainer. Get on with it. James Buckman, Enmore

13 April, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Why not a new museum entirely?’
Far from opposing the establishment of a new arts institution in western Sydney, I strongly support it (“Wran widow ‘crushed’ by plan to shift Powerhouse”, April 12). But why can’t we leave the Powerhouse intact and create an altogether new and different kind of museum or gallery in the west? One with its own ‘identity , vision and daring ambitions’, to quote Michael Dagostino, the director of the Campbelltown Arts Centre. Perhaps this new institution might invite other state and national museums and galleries to show their best in innovatively curated exhibitions on an occasional basis. Blockbuster exhibitions could also include a period in western Sydney. That way the people of the west would get to see the best that is on offer from right around the nation. The idea of decommissioning the Powerhouse, of shutting down any first-rate cultural institution, is so deeply flawed, as is arts funding generally in NSW. It appears this government thinks that it has dispatched its cultural obligations by spending a vast sum of money on the Art Gallery of NSW while other great state cultural institutions are left begging and demoralised.
Jill Wran, Woollahra

NSW still does not have a migration museum. Parramatta would be the right place for it. In our submission to the inquiry about the Powerhouse Museum we made the case for it. In the discussion about the Powerhouse Museum, which should stay where it is, no mention was ever made about alternatives for western Sydney. In this multicultural society the display of the very many migrant groups need a home. They exist in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Broken Hill. Could we shift the discussion to this very worthwhile cause?
Klaas Woldring, secretary, Dutch Australian Cultural Centre

Of course, Michael Dagostino, western Sydney should have a museum. Of course, it would be nice for locals to be able to stroll over to the Parramatta River and admire various artefacts but why does it mean another museum has to be annihilated to do so? Jill Wran is right; the cultural relevance of the Powerhouse must be retained. It is ideally sited and the present building is an honest testimony to an industrial Sydney that no longer exists. Why trash history so the area can be made hideous with massive blocks of flats? Nola Tucker, Kiama

12 April, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Time for the government to go
It is encouraging to see Matthew Mason-Cox highlighting some of the many instances of lack of planning, business cases and consultation from this NSW government (“Powerhouse plan needs a rethink”, April 11). And they just keep on doing it. Light rail, WestConnex, land clearing, stadiums, Powerhouse, destroying mature trees in the city, destroying TAFE, uncontrolled apartment building and so many more. And then they try to tell us what wonderful financial managers they are as they sell off the state’s services and assets. Surely it’s time for the Governor to step in and dismiss this lot. Geoff Wannan, Dawes Point

It’s encouraging to find a member of the ruling state Liberal Party, Mason-Cox, saying exactly what all of us are thinking – that this government has an unfortunate tendency to shoot first and ask questions later. So far there have been no fewer than seven situations involving billions of dollars in which the government have failed to either prepare a proper business plan or consult fully with the public, the proposed Powerhouse move will mark the eighth. There is only one solution. Vote them out at the next election and then maybe they’ll have time to consider the folly of not listening to us and be a better government the next time they win.
Michael Morton-Evans, Mosman

Why does our state government repeatedly concern itself only with a ”business case” when examining proposals such as the Powerhouse relocation? The primary question must be: will this proposal benefit the citizens of the state? Every cost and benefit analysis of every issue must include this question at its core. Otherwise the impression is one of stitched-up deals by a latter-day Rum Corps. David Baird, Burradoo

The NSW government’s decision to move the Powerhouse Museum has no apparent reason other than freeing up real estate for their developer mates.  Ben Cato, Bonnet Bay

11 April, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
As an interstate person who visits the Powerhouse Museum almost every time I come to Sydney, I think I can speak for many tourists when I say that the proposals for its removal to Paramatta are a source of great sadness. Time is always limited when I visit, and a trip to Paramatta, beautiful and historical as it is, is simply not on the agenda. “Build it and they will come” is a fantasy. Build it in the wrong place and they simply WON’T come. The centre of Sydney is home to many museums and art galleries, and there is a synergy to proximity, just as KFC and Macca’s have found. I profoundly hope that those making the decision are not blinded by the lure of immediate cash, and recognise that in the longer term the greatest financial benefits are to be had right where the Powerhouse Museum is right now. Dr Roderick Ewins, Nubeena, Tasmania

Just on three and a half years ago, the government announced its thought bubble of moving the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta. Since then, there has been a constant stream of informed criticism of this idea. A multi-party Legislative Council has heard overwhelming evidence of the stupidity of the original proposal, and has issued a statement calling for the government to release the full business case for the ‘move’ for full public consultation before making its final decision. Yet none of the basic objections raised have been answered, or even acknowledged, by the government, which is determined to press on regardless. I have long realised that it is useless debating issues with creationists, climate change deniers, anti-vaccination activists and Trump supporters. The normal rules of debate, reasoned argument and factual analysis just do not apply. It is terrifying to realise that we must now add our government to this category.
Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

7 April, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Orwellian low reached
Arts minister Don Harwin has reached a new Orwellian low in his attempt to defy logic using “double speak” (“Labor changes tune on Powerhouse move”, April 6). Labor has built fantastic cultural infrastructure throughout Sydney and NSW, in spite of the Liberal Party’s scorched-earth attitude to “kulture”.
Don, you are very wrong. You and your doomed government are destroying the Powerhouse Museum and creating a shell in Parramatta to buy voters with shameless pork barrelling so you can continue your giant NSW sell-off.
Cultural jewels, like the award-winning Powerhouse, part of a Labor cultural crown of Sydney museums and galleries, is the outstanding legacy of their stewardship.
Selling the state’s assets to the highest bidder then over-developing and user-charging the people is not good government and neither is destroying existing cultural infrastructure.
Lionel Glendenning, Architect of Record, Powerhouse Museum

The Powerhouse Museum is an asset to all of Sydney, NSW, Australia and even world travellers. It is not the province of just western Sydney and belongs in the centre of Sydney. To flog it off so a few developers can build their monolithic money-making skyscrapers is a crime against all that makes this city. This government has made an art form of debasing all it governs into corporation mentality, with no regards to environments or the artistic and educational life of a city. It is time we took to the streets over the Powerhouse Museum. Tony Lewis, Mount Victoria

5 April, 2018
Powerhouse is not for sale
(Sydney Morning Herald)
This hapless Berejiklian government is the most destructive in the history of NSW (Letters, April 4). Funded by, and representing developers, it has destroyed everything from suburbs, to native habitats, to magnificent 100-year-old trees, to social housing and anything and everything that belongs to the people. We used to own many valuable assets; they’ve sold the majority of them and now, in their ideological pursuit of the dollar, they have their eyes on the people’s Powerhouse Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.
It is not theirs to sell. It belongs to us. But, fronted by the parroting Perrottet, this government intends to sell off the marvellous Powerhouse to its developer mates, so they can inundate us with even more soaring, sterile apartment blocks.
This is a criminal act. The analogy? Let us say that we owned a house, fully furnished with valuable antiques. It has been rented out for four years on a strict lease. Then one day you see an ad on eBay offering antique furnishings for sale, at fire-sale prices. The description leaves you in no doubt that these come from your leased house. You have not given permission for your property’s disposal; the tenants have simply taken your property and are selling them.
This is the modus operandi of the privatise-at-any price Berejiklian government. Flogging our Powerhouse? These greedy vandals should be arrested. Rod Miller, Epping

3 April, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Government showing its contempt for public opinion again
For a government poised to make a controversial decision, an informed public is the last thing it wants (“Powerhouse business case secret for 90 days”, April 2) It would not surprise if the NSW government has already decided to move the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta and sell off the current heritage-listed premises in Ultimo. The 90 days before the business case is made available to the public will allow time for a government campaign to support a decision presented as a fait accompli.
Most governments prefer to avoid making reasoned cases for their policies. I was working at the Premier’s Department when the Greiner government introduced freedom of information legislation in 1989 and some government members and senior public servants had serious doubts. Even with FOI legislation, extracting information from the government is like pulling teeth, with the final barrier being the government’s ability to mark papers “Cabinet in confidence”.
Withholding the business case for 90 days shows contempt for public opinion as the initial decision to move the Powerhouse was announced by Premier Mike Baird in 2015.
James Moore, Kogarah

Why the secrecy about the future of the Powerhouse Museum? Show the same consideration for the museum as the stadiums and release the business case now. Would a new museum at Parramatta and refurbishment of the existing museum at Ultimo be too much to hope for?  Judith Campbell, Drummoyne

I had to check the date yesterday morning. The Berejiklian government will make the investment decision to move the Powerhouse Museum and then 90 days later release the business case. Please tell me this is an April Fool’s Day joke! Even so, the business case will only be about money, no heritage or ethical decisions countenanced by this government.
Doreen Howard, South Hurstville

I thought we lived in a democracy. How can a government withhold
justification (or no justification) for a project until after approval
has been given? Leave the Powerhouse Museum where it is for the whole of Sydney and build an annex at Parramatta. Pamela Zopf, Guildford

Our democratically elected minister will not release the business case for ”moving” the museum to Parramatta, and from past experience we know that this means that they will not release the consultants’ advice that underpins the business case or even the advice given to the consultants by Peter Root, undoubtedly the expert in moving the exhibits. (He set up the current display for the 1988 opening.) Inexcusable. But Treasury procedures require that the ”null case” (the case for maintaining the status quo) must first be examined in the process of preparing a business case. This must be followed by a financial examination of options for achieving the desired result, (in this case, improving the cultural facilities of Parramatta). If this basic information is not released, what peaceful means of democratic process remain? Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

30 March, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Gladys Berejiklian should go further to halt spending spree
Sanity has prevailed in the matter of the proposed stadium rebuild. Does this retreat signal a halt to Gladys’ spendathon?
Perhaps a review of other demented developer-driven proposals such as the fire sale of Sydney’s historic colonial buildings, the rape of the Domain and Botanical Gardens to make way for a pathetic rinse of Tate Modern and the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta is in order. One can only hope so. Leo Schofield, Potts Point

25 March, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
Arts minister Harwin claims the latest Powerhouse Museum travesty, the transformation of exhibition space into a ‘collaborative classroom’, is exciting (‘Gallery’s new life paints mixed picture for museum’, by Linda Morris 23/3/18). Who could be excited to see a space that for many years held a wealth of objects, stories and ideas now filled with a blandness of large tables, high podiums and huge screens?
For museum managers to claim it will use the space to present ‘exceptional formal and informal learning experiences’ is pure spin. The Powerhouse’s three existing classrooms, four learning studios and small science lab were all empty when I visited the same day that Morris’s article was published. Only the interactive ‘Lab’ was abuzz with schoolchildren, reflecting the museum’s strong emphasis on informal learning. Debbie Rudder, Maroubra

23 March, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
What is happening to the Powerhouse Museum (Linda Morris, SMH 23/3) is a disgrace of equal if not greater proportions than the crazy stadiums plan. A compliant management and board appears to have no regard for the great significance of the buildings, collections and location within the museums precinct of the distinct value of this wonderful institution. As with the stadiums there are much better, more sensible and more economic solutions but the  government doesn’t listen. The Labor Party also seems AWOL. Trevor Kennedy, Millers Point.

21 March, 2018
Powerhouse ploy is death by design
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Fashion balls, leasing exhibition spaces for students, it certainly seems as if the Powerhouse Museum is destined for the scrap-heap by stealth (“Gallery’s new life paints a mixed picture for museum”, March 23). I recently visited the Museum’s Discovery Centre at Castle Hill where 95 per cent of the collections are stored. On the basis of the small amount of material on public display there (the balance is in five huge storage buildings) there is more than enough significant material to fill a second museum at Parramatta. But is this what the residents of Parramatta actually want, or is it just a thought bubble from a couple of politicians? Any so-called business case that supports the move of the Powerhouse Museum has to be flawed.
Marina Garlick, Balmain

Shame on the NSW government which is intent on destroying the Powerhouse Museum by a process of white-anting – removing its qualified curators and much of its experienced museum staff, destroying morale and losing beneficiaries and sponsorship, and now turning its exhibition spaces into classrooms for courses such as Fundamentals of Business Finance, Economics for Business and Accounting for Business Decisions. Outrageous! Anne Schofield, Woollahra

The Powerhouse Museum is being destroyed by a relentless process orchestrated behind closed doors. The effect this long running uncertainty has on volunteers, and in particular on the museum’s staff, is hard to imagine. It must not be allowed to continue.
Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

11 March, 2018
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Gladys, please bring on the election ASAP. I for one am really looking forward to the newly elected Labor Party’s special commission of inquiry into your stadiums bulldoze/rebuild being viable, self-funding, needed and actually wanted by the majority of NSW voters. Maybe they can get two for the price of one by including the Powerhouse Museum. The ICAC could have been right on top of this, if you hadn’t effectively neutered it! Russell Burford, Ballina

10 March, 2018
Dumbing down dives deeper
(Sydney Morning Herald)
One must wonder what the current board of trustees of the Powerhouse Museum and the misguided management team at this once vital Sydney cultural institution were thinking when they sanctioned the albeit temporary conversion of the museum into a playpen for a bunch of coke-snorting parochial C-list “celebrities” (“Fashion ball appears to be more fun, less fundraiser”, March 8). It is distressing enough that the myopic state government persists with its risible plan to relocate this august institution from its historic location in the heart of Sydney to Parramatta, a satellite city whose locals are agog with indifference at the prospect, but for the current management, whose collective curatorial experience is mostly in the field of visual art, to propose a move away from scholarship to tawdry showmanship is salt in the wounds of those thousands of Sydneysiders like myself who love, respect and battle for the preservation and public enjoyment of a unique and priceless collection. Sadly, this latest foray into modish populism is indicative of the current dumbing down of so many elements of our society and heritage. Leo Schofield, Potts Point

Maybe the committee for the Powerhouse Fashion Museum for the Powerhouse Fashion Museum need to talk to the committee of The Silver Party on how to run a successful fundraiser. The generous attendees at the recently held Silver Party donated nearly $1 million to the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick’s Child Health Research and Innovation project.
Angela Miller, Bondi Junction

9 March, 2018
Heritage loses out to high-rise 
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Alan Mascaren has written a very thoughtful and factual piece about the demise of Parramatta as we know it. (“Disneyland for Developers”, March 8). So much has been lost already and the last remnants of our heritage and community are in grave danger. Parramatta has a State MP who prefers high-rise over heritage. Parramatta Female Factory dates back to 1813, the oldest group of intact colonial buildings in this country alongside some very important Indigenous sites. Australia’s great opportunity to preserve and showcase our history and culture, one would think.
This state government sees it as great opportunity to “revitalise” the precinct by swamping it with high-rise, roads and retail and plunging a light rail to nowhere through the middle of it. Parramatta War Memorial Pool. Stolen. Parramatta MP Geoff Lee steadfastly ignored pleas from the local schools, families, pensioners, community and sporting groups to keep the pool open.
Parramatta residents have been left without a pool indefinitely as the new stadium rises to the benefit of the NRL, the FFA, Parramatta Eels, Wanderers, alcohol and gambling interests. Corporations before communities. The Powerhouse Museum relocation, it has only ever been about the real estate value in Ultimo. The Royal Oak Hotel, one of Australia’s oldest existing pubs, will be the next in a long list of important historic buildings lost in Parramatta. Premier Gladys describes herself as a great listener, she doesn’t hear much. Bob Edgar, Westmead

9 March, 2018
Powerhouse museum: staff morale
(SMH unpublished)
The issues with the Fashion Ball are a separate matter. (‘Fashion ball appears to be more fun, less fundraiser’, SMH 8 March). However, it is a timely reminder that over three years of uncertainty are hanging over the fate of the Powerhouse Museum. What this is doing to the morale of volunteers and especially to the staff is hard to imagine. If grinding down the museum is part of the Government’s plan, then they are doing a great job. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

27 February, 2018
Powerhouse rubbed out
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Much as the Soviet propagandists of Stalin’s time cut images of Trotsky out of the history books, it seems that the state government is doing its best to consign the Powerhouse Museum to cultural oblivion while it’s still open. As trams approach Exhibition Station in Darling Harbour, a recorded announcement tells us that this is the stop for the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre and sundry other local attractions, but not a word about the Powerhouse, which is clearly visible through the windows. I have a sneaking suspicion we are being softened up for the institution’s impending destruction. Pat Sheil, Camperdown

14 February, 2018 (Goulburn Post)
I recently visited the Powerhouse Museum where I discovered a trove of engrossing exhibits attended to by knowledgeable volunteers. One of the highlights of the Powerhouse is the space in which the exhibits are housed. The atmosphere resonates with the industrial workings of a bygone era which engenders a sense of purpose and wonder.
How desperately disappointing it is that the New South Wales government intends to destroy this cultural marvel. What is stopping the state government from creating an additional museum at Parramatta and maintaining the current Powerhouse Museum? It surely cannot be lack of money for $2 billion has recently been proposed for sporting facility upgrades. In its present form, the Powerhouse Museum is one of Australia’s major cultural assets. A politically vulnerable target, it could easily and permanently be lost to present and future generations as a victim of costly and short-sighted decision making. Is this what the government wants for the people of NSW and visitors to our state? Stephen Chapman, Middle Arm, NSW

28 December, 2017
Cut the public servants and just call in the consultants
(ref “Consultants spree busts NSW budget by $250m”, December 27)
Outside consultants were employed by the NSW government to advise on the Powerhouse Museum “move” to Parramatta for one simple reason: they were told to report on how the move was to be made, therefore avoiding the basic question of whether there were not better and cheaper ways of achieving the declared aim of improving the cultural facilities of Western Sydney.
This “move” idea also would have enabled the sale of the Powerhouse site to developers, virtually the only people benefiting from this disastrously wasteful project. The taskforce of SES employees entrusted with the preparation for the move is also under contract to carry out the declared project, not to consider basic matters as above. The result is that a stupid and wasteful policy is still being supported. The early participation of a skilled and independent public service would probably have prevented this. Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

6-7 December, 2017
‘City may not stand tomorrow’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Sixty years ago the Cahill expressway was opened to traffic. Most Sydneysiders and visitors look at this excrescence, this concrete gash across the face of Sydney, and silently mutter “What were they thinking?” This well may become the city’s mantra as future generations take in the mauling that has continued to endure as venal governments in cahoots with profit-mad developers continue their joint rampage, gobbling up green space, felling noble trees, expanding floor-space ratios to make way for gimcrack featureless towers without any thought for public amenity, any plausible vision of the future. Consider the wholesale flogging off of our historic buildings, the squandering of billions of dollars on unnecessary new stadiums, the obscene plans for the all-glass Sydney Modern where paintings will somehow be suspended on glass curtain walls as the proposed extension chews up more of the Domain, the ludicrous vote-buying plan to move the Powerhouse museum to Parramatta. In his powerful poem Ozymandias, Percy Shelley wrote: “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Or in contemporary parlance, “What were they thinking?” Leo Schofield, Potts Point

5 December, 2017
‘Sydney stadium splurge ignores broader interests of others’  (Sydney Morning Herald)
The NSW government has not “got its priorities right”, as stated by Sports Minister Stuart Ayres, in its commitment to the unnecessary demolition and reconstruction of two stadiums, one 30 years old, one less than 20 (“Stadium spree draws ire”, December 4).
The government continues to neglect its four world class collecting institutions: the State Library of NSW, Art Gallery of NSW, Australian Museum and Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences. Limitations on recurrent funding and staffing have forced the State Library to lose a quarter of its staff under this Coalition government. Specialist staff are needed to conserve and exhibit its unparalleled collection of Australia’s heritage, assist readers and researchers, engage with our exploding digital heritage and support public libraries in communities from Bourke to Tumbarumba.
Capital funding is just as scarce, even though the library needs a fraction of the funds committed to the stadium redevelopment. The collection is of incalculable cultural value, includes many World Heritage items and is one of the state’s top 20 assets, now valued at more than $3 billion. But some of that irreplaceable collection has to be located on floors constructed during WWII that are wholly inadequate. Pleas and proposals to address this dire need have been rejected out of hand even though it is 30 years since the library has had an extension.
Sydney shamefully lacks both a “Scienceworks”, unlike Canberra, Melbourne and Perth, and an institution committed to the documentation of our ethnic and cultural diversity and the immigration that fed it, unlike Adelaide and Melbourne. In prioritising stadiums over culture, the government continues the tradition of ignoring the broad cultural and educational interests of the people of Sydney and NSW. Alex Byrne, Glebe

4 December, 2017 (Sydney Morning Herald: unpublished)
Living in rural New South Wales I value the opportunity to visit the many cultural institutions of Sydney. Recently I visited the Powerhouse Museum where I discovered a trove of engrossing exhibits attended to by knowledgeable volunteers. One of the highlights of the Powerhouse is the space in which the exhibits are housed. The atmosphere resonates with the industrial workings of a bygone era which engenders a sense of purpose and wonder.
How desperately disappointing it is that the New South Wales government intends to destroy this cultural marvel. What is stopping the state government from creating an additional museum at Parramatta and maintaining the current Powerhouse Museum? It surely cannot be lack of money for $2 billion has recently been proposed for sporting facility upgrades. In its present form, the Powerhouse Museum is one of Australia’s major cultural assets. A politically vulnerable target, it could easily and permanently be lost to present and future generations as a victim of costly and short-sighted decision making. Is this what the government wants for the people of NSW and visitors to our state? Stephen Chapman, Middle Arm, NSW

2 December, 2017
(Sydney Morning Herald: unpublished)
‘Don’t forget that the Powerhouse Museum is an integrated collection’
Philanthropist Gene Sherman’s arguments (Former Powerhouse Museum trustee calls for an end to uncertainty, December 1) to leave the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo, while ‘Western Sydney deserved a “home grown” museum that could draw on the Powerhouse’s stored collection as well as travelling blockbuster exhibitions,’ are shared by thousands in the many informed audiences who know the museum should stay where it is. Significantly, the government planners need to understand that while Sherman’s own particular interest is in fashion, there are many other equally important areas of the decorative arts and design collections that need to stay in Ultimo for the same reasons: contemporary and historical ceramics, glass, furniture, textiles, jewellery and metalwork – and many others. Moreover, the special characteristic of this museum is that the juxtaposition of these areas with the rich social history, science and technology collections allows stories to be told in ways that cannot happen if everything is irrevocably divided up and banished from its context. Grace Cochrane, Summer Hill

1 December, 2017
(Sydney Morning Herald) The NSW Liberals are showing themselves to be no friends of their junior partner.  The Orange by-election showed just how vulnerable the Nationals are when the government ignores the regions. And the ads for alternative conservative parties at the next election are almost writing themselves: $2 billion replacing two Sydney football stadiums, $2 billion to move a Sydney Museum 15 kilometres and $50 billion on Sydney roads. If I was the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party I would be preselecting candidates now. Tony Walbran, Dee Why

28 November, 2017
(Sydney Morning Herald) For this, and more about stadiums: Read more  
‘Viability in question’
Three years ago today, the NSW government announced that the Powerhouse Museum would be moved to Parramatta. It is obviously an unresearched “thought bubble” made into inflexible policy, with so many obvious defects that space cannot even permit a summary. Since then, a huge and constant protest movement has been mounted by major arts organisations and a “who’s who” of Sydney’s (and Parramatta’s) arts and cultural scene – to say nothing of hundreds of outraged ordinary people like me. A huge petition forced a Legislative Council Inquiry, beginning September 2016 and still continuing. It is attracting massive numbers of submissions and is hearing massive amounts of expert evidence that is overwhelmingly against the “move”. Government witnesses hide behind the mantra “cabinet in confidence” in refusing to divulge even the most basic facts.
There were signs this year that a consultation process might occur. Meetings were held in Parramatta and Ultimo in late July, and many questions were asked of the government. There has been no response to any of these basic questions about the viability of the project. The special website that the government set up to facilitate communication and consultation has had no relevant information and indeed no postings at all for nearly four months. In NSW, premier state of this supposedly democratic country, what must the people do to be heard by their government? Tom Lockley, Pyrmont

27 November, 2017
‘Stadiums’ $2.3b spending a shocking extravagance’
(Sydney Morning Herald) For these and other letters Read more
See also comment on stadiums: Read more  and Read more 

Gladys, I’m sorry but you’ve lost my vote (“When we build them, the crowds will come”, November 25-26 Read more ).  Coming on the heels of the unnecessary massive cost involved in shifting the Powerhouse Museum and your focus on roads, rather than prioritising rail, the $2.3b (and sure to rise) on stadiums is a shocking extravagance when your government cries poor on a litany of other, far more important issues. You are recently quoted stating there is an economic case to justify this extraordinary exercise, so please do feel free to articulate your position. I won’t comment on Allianz, other than to ask how do taxpayers know that the replacement won’t be as poor quality as the current one?  If Roman stadiums have stood for a thousand years, then with all our technology, why can’t yours last more than 50 years?  Kay Buckeridge, Mosman

During the 1960s and 70s many Third World countries erected great sporting edifices  ostensibly to celebrate great national sporting triumphs, but subsequently found them to be more useful  in accommodating  political opponents prior to their execution. That sort of thing, of course, could never happen in Australia but one does get the feeling that in spending over two billion dollars of taxpayers money on such complexes Gladys Berejiklian is signing her own political death warrant.  Michael Turner, Culburra beach

It really is time the Sydney Opera House was torn down and replaced, on the same spot. The poor old thing has been there for 44 years now and those sails just don’t seem to hold the wind the way they used to. A nice rebuild might provide for possibly dozens more patrons. And don’t get me started on that shabby old 1932 “Coathanger”! Bob Guy, Cootamundra

So NSW is so tight for money that we had to cut ICAC funding by half.  Now we spend billions subsidising stadium construction without a business case even being made public.  Its Barangaroo all over.  I wonder how many political donations it takes to get a stadium built.  Restore ICAC now. Frank Gasparre, Eastwood

As a landscape architect I am appalled at the decision to sink $2 billion  into rebuilding the Alliance and ANZ stadiums.  If this was about sport, we could build at least 200 first class district level, rugby/football/cricket sports centres in Western Sydney.  It’s an outrageous extravagance!   Martin O’Dea, Lilyfield

15 November, 2017
‘How the west was won’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
The University of Western Sydney was one of the important motivations for Baird’s decisions to move the Powerhouse to Parramatta (“Powerhouse chases deal with UTS to retain Ultimo ties”, November 14). It beggars belief that it took this long for some people to realise that the Powerhouse precinct is almost already a part of UTS’s campus. The “curatorial expertise in science technology transport and engineering” is the very essence of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, it is not a transportable concept. The University of Western Sydney and Parramatta deserve to have their own museum. MAAS has a vast collection in storage, MAAS can help stock any museum. The elephant in the room is, as always, how much will the government require raised from developers for the partial or total sale of the Powerhouse precinct.
Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

I was trying to explain to a friend from London that the Powerhouse Museum was being moved from Ultimo to Parramatta (“Powerhouse chases deal on Ultimo ties”, November 14). She was puzzled for a few minutes, but then said, “I get it. It’d be like moving the Victoria and Albert to Slough.” Patricia Farrar, Concord

Does the NSW Government, Premier and Arts Minister not see the irony in destroying the Powerhouse Museum by moving the collection from the vast heritage unrestricted large scale spaces – so perfect for the large science, technology and transport exhibitions – and replacing them with ‘fashion’? ( ‘Powerhouse flying machines make way for Sydney Design Festival installation’, November 9) Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea (unpublished)

Thanks to the SMH for at least paying attention to what amounts to the destruction of the Powerhouse Museum, one of most iconic institutions in NSW. ( ‘Powerhouse flying machines make way for Sydney Design Festival installation’, November 9)The business of shifting the planes, trains, etc. to Parramatta is one of the most absurd ideas ever countenanced.  They are an integral and vital part of the place. There has been no serious financial analysis of this particular Baird thought bubble. There is no information on costs, who the supposed “consultants” are   consulting. As far as we can understand no museum experts have been involved and there is great secrecy around the costs. All the museum experts will tell you there is much better methods of solving the cultural deficit of Western Sydney but the government seems blind to even examining them.  The ALP is not much better. It seems to be pre-occupied  with the prospect of another government back flip rather than what is good government. And people wonder why the electorate is disillusioned with the major parties.
Trevor Kennedy, Millers Point (unpublished)

24 September, 2017
‘No Need to Move’
(The Sun-Herald)
Surely the Powerhouse Museum does not need to move precious exhibits such as the Boulton and Watt Engine and the Catalina flying boat. It has more than enough material to sustain both the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo and a new Museum at Parramatta (“The treasures of the Powerhouse no small challenge for the movers”, September 17). Two engineers in my family gave their time and expertise to bring these two exhibits to reality. My late great uncle Bill Bannister oversaw the resurrection of the Boulton and Watt engine and my late father George Austin oversaw that of the Catalina flying boat. If these installations are moved, with subsequent damage, it will negate the knowledge, credibility and contribution of past engineering experts. Judith Williams, Epping

22 September, 2017
Moving collections
(Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
Readers of Linda Morris’s article about moving the Powerhouse objects to Parramatta (SMH 16-17 Sep) might have gained the impression that the proposed move poses few problems. But the idea of ‘moving the Powerhouse’ was always a poor one, carrying significant risks and huge costs.
The museum’s staff can competently move thousands of small objects, although some irreplaceable items have been lost, and fragile ones broken, in transit. Peter Denham’s advice to move them ‘carefully’ is sound, but all that care (and planning, checking and tracking) comes at a cost.
But care is not sufficient when it comes to large objects, where the problem is much more than Denham’s ‘weight and size’. There is real risk to both objects and people. One staff member was badly injured a few years ago when a normally very careful team moved a heavy object between stores, and smaller accidents have damaged large objects in transit.
Historic aeroplanes are unwieldy and easily damaged. Moving and re-hanging each one requires an engineer, riggers and heavy equipment as well as experienced conservators.
To move locomotives and other very heavy objects, cranes and air skates need to be hired and operated by specialists. Given the new museum’s proposed flood plain location, these objects could not be displayed at ground level. The building would need very strong upper floors to take the load, and the objects must be installed early in museum development.
The highly significant 1785 Boulton and Watt engine is not a single lump of metal. It must be moved in parts, necessitating weeks of work by experienced conservators. In addition to the awkward-to-move beam and flywheel, there are several other heavy metal parts and large support timbers. Yes, they have all been moved before, but it is still a costly – and risky – task.  Debbie Rudder, Maroubra

5 September, 2017
‘Moving Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta would reduce its accessibility for most’
(Sydney Morning Herald)

Some suggest that, because Parramatta is the population centre of Sydney (actually Ermington is the current centre), the Powerhouse Museum should be moved there (Letters, September 4). This ignores the nature of Sydney’s public transport system with the rail network radiating out from Central Station. This means that the Powerhouse is easily accessible to the entire population of Sydney by public transport. Removing the museum from Ultimo reduces its accessibility for most living in Sydney as well as those visiting Sydney from interstate and overseas. Peter Wotton, Pyrmont

I worked in Parramatta for more than 20 years and I can assure you that a cultural centre it ain’t. Just take a walk down Church Street. The Riverside Theatre was for years very poorly patronised and my guess is that its use was in the main related to the exorbitant hire charges levied by the Sydney and Chatswood venues. There’s very limited parking, narrow streets and the railway station isn’t within walking distance of the proposed museum. Tourists visiting Sydney wouldn’t want to spend their precious time travelling to Parramatta along congested roadways, and unless tour operators included it in their itinerary, the relocated museum could well end up morphing into yet another hotel or converted to apartment living. Jean Byrne, Eastwood

May I make a plea for St Georges Terrace in Parramatta to be saved and restored? My late mother was born in that hospital as the seventh child to an impoverished family who lived in the terrace. Kathleen Chivers, Vincentia

4 September, 2017
‘Powerhouse has become a political football’
‘The reason recent premiers don’t like the Powerhouse Museum’ (online)
Letters to The Sydney Morning Herald: Read more 

About a month ago Anne Summers agonised about why the Coalition government is so full of hatred for a world famous, award-winning museum (“Powerhouse victim of another Sydney property grab”, August 5).
The simple answer is that it was created as the fulfilment of the vision of Neville Wran, one of the most outstanding premiers of NSW. I was frequently aware of political tribalism when I ran the place for 12 years. Regrettably, Wran’s heritage is now disregarded even by his Labor successors.
Present day Laborites are greedy for every west of Sydney vote they can get, but even more, they are bent on humiliating the Berejiklian government.  So the Powerhouse-to-Parramatta impasse has become a political football. It’s like one of the best Utopia scripts with ascending budgets but never any credible figures.
Arts Minister Don Harwin promises a world class iconic museum for the new riverside site. But how bizarre to shatter an existing world class iconic museum belonging to NSW to achieve his ends. If this phenomenal adaptation of a power station by a government architect, Lionel Glendenning, is vandalised, it will not go unnoticed across the world.
The solution, then, is simple. Parramatta apparently wants cultural enhancement beyond its theatre aspirations. So give it an art gallery. Make that “art museum” suit American trends.  Art museums are far less expensive in every way. Paintings are  easy to transport or store. Prints and drawings have special needs but these are easily and inexpensively met. Sculptures look heavy but over several decades, sculptors have developed synthetic techniques to fool the eye and mostly they are easily moved or stored.
Terence Measham, (former director, Powerhouse Museum), Umina Beach

Surely the answer to end the divisiveness would be to leave the Powerhouse in Ultimo and   provide  the growing western part of  Sydney with a truly relevant cultural institution:  a museum and research institute of multicultural Sydney (“Power play”, September 2-3). This  would be at the centre of multicultural Sydney, showcasing its long and rich history and what it means to the nation today. It could join the University of Western Sydney in  researching and studying  its  social implications and  advocating its benefits This could become a mecca for international visitors and  school visits from all over Australia. Don Beresford, Surry Hills

Arts Minister Don Harwin “insists”  that themed museums don’t get repeat visits. Museums, themed or not, get repeat visits because of changing temporary, including blockbuster exhibitions. For instance, the MCA and National Maritime Museum. Former premier Mike Baird ludicrously claimed last year that the Powerhouse at Parramatta would be “Australia’s answer to the Smithsonian”, which has 19 different museums and galleries on different sites (note: all themed). Treasury has ruled out spending one red cent on a Parramatta museum while large amounts will be spent upgrading the State Library and Art gallery and Australian Museum. Go figure! Great museums don’t demolish existing ones and transfer them to a new site. They add to them. Keith Parsons, Newcastle

I am disappointed by some of the commentary in the Herald on this issue. There are legitimate questions about costs and government secrecy, but objections about heritage, flood mitigation and engineering seem nothing more than furphies. The St George Terrace, referred to in one article as being under threat at the Parramatta site, is a sad row of neglected and commercially degraded terraces which would benefit immensely by being renovated and integrated into this project. The prospect of flooding has not stopped massive development along the river, and I can’t believe a 100-tonne loco has to be raised to the ceiling before some other solution is found. Indeed, I don’t see why the site can’t be built over the present robust above-ground car park.
Your feature article opines – “Parramatta is not Sydney’s west”. No, it is Sydney’s demographic centre, and the people of Sydney’s west – a vast and hungry audience, can breathe new life into this tried, underperforming institution. Social progressives should embrace this move, and not fall in behind inner-city elites. ​David Evans, Guildford

Regarding David Evans’ letter (04/09):  lnteresting proposal to build the museum on top of the existing car park. This would allow the ground floor of the museum to accommodate, two locos, three carriages, one tram, the Boulton & Watt and several other steam engines, the Satum 5 rocket engine and, of course the Catalina flying boat. The two nineteenth century cranes could then be used to move these objects about. lncidentally, I live in Pennant Hills not the inner city. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills (unpublished)

Premier, please leave the Powerhouse Museum where it is. Simply commission a superb building at Parramatta. And move the majority of the Powerhouse’s unshown collection there. This could save millions of dollars. The real estate value of the Powerhouse site is “piddling” in comparison. Does Wran’s vision annoy this government? Christopher Davis, Boorowa

The Baird and Berejiklian governments’ secretive dealings with developers over the Powerhouse Museum relocation are shameful. The neglected heritage buildings at Cumberland Hospital would make a fine branch museum but it appears that UrbanGrowth NSW has vetoed museum use at this location to allow high-rise development. The proposed light rail through North Parramatta will provide good transport links.
Tony Simons, Balmain

 4 September: (Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
It was very brave of the SMH (Sept 3) to admit that it may have overreached a bit in its earlier support of shifting the Powerhouse to the West. The big question now is whether the government and Labor have the guts to do the same. The evidence of the absurdity of the costs involved and destruction of an iconic institution is overwhelming.
There is no good reason why a sensible discussion about the best way to satisfy the West’s  cultural deficit can’t be conducted with the help of many of the experts who have emerged during the debate—and know much more than the hugely expensive “consultants” currently  engaged. I am sure that both Don Harwin and Walt Secord, having been intimately involved in the investigations, will agree. It just needs Berejiklian and Foley to take a sensible view as well.
A backflip, if that’s what it has to be, makes goods political and economic sense if it is that right thing to do. Labor seems transfixed about taking political advantage of a revised decision rather than presenting sensible alternatives. Surely we are getting to a point where good sense should transcend politics—or is that just too much expect from both sides in this debate?
Trevor Kennedy, Millers Point.

Parramatta: listen to the community (Sydney Morning Herald, unpublished)
Alongside the recurring issues of secrecy and misinformation regarding costs, planning and consultation about the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum, it should be noted that the large city of Parramatta, with its very diverse population, is the only one of the larger cities in greater Sydney that has NO art gallery. An arts cultural centre is a key element in any city, offering opportunity for local engagement as well as for touring exhibitions and, in Parramatta, for interaction with significant local history.
The City of Parramatta Council cultural plan shows that people want their own museums and their own city art gallery, to complement their theatre complex. They didn’t ask for a long-established state museum to be moved. Yet any expression of interest in a Parramatta gallery or museum has been overshadowed by the political attractions of state funding and ‘beating the CBD’ prestige. By the time the Council started ‘consulting’ the community (other than business leaders), the government’s offer of the Powerhouse was already offered on a plate and accepted. Many community responses could only reflect the leading questions that were asked after the relocation was announced. It is time to listen to people properly: there are better options for both locations. Grace Cochrane, Summer Hill

30 August, 2017
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Following a news report on 29 August, and the 8th hearing of the Upper House Inquiry, readers responded:
‘Following money in Powerhouse deal impossible’
There is a well-worn saying “Follow the money”. The secrecy surrounding the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum makes that impossible (“Billion dollar Power trip”, August 29). Who is breathing down the government’s and Gladys’ neck to get their hands on that land? Who and what favours are owed them or what kickback are they getting? Are the interests of the public, let alone faith in democratic processes already wafer thin, to be sacrificed so that some payback obligation can be met? It is a slippery slope indeed when politicians get into bed with big developers. Rosemary McDonald, Beecroft

Why is no consideration ever given to the artefacts and treasures presently stored out west and not on display? Why not create at Parramatta a museum that is an adjunct to our Powerhouse? It is not a matter of personal pride, Gladys Berejiklian, it is a matter of common sense. For once just say “no” to the developers. Nola Tucker, Kiama

So it goes on. The construction of Sydney’s light rail and the WestConnex are causing major disruption but there will be long-term benefit. Apartment blocks can be built anywhere, but please not on top of the historic museum and site at Ultimo. I am sure all fair-minded people including the residents of western Sydney would agree with that. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

 The first party to ban the phrases: “cabinet in confidence” and “commercial in confidence” and any of their synonyms is guaranteed at least the balance of power in our next House of Representatives election. My crystal ball and this morning’s tea leaves tell me so.
Bob Scott, Eastlakes

With all that money rolling in from stamp duty and the sale of poles and wires the state government’s coffers must be awash with cash and Gladys Berejiklian seems desperate to give it away – $1.6 billion on unnecessary football stadiums and now $1.5 billion on an arguably unnecessary move of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta. It gives a whole new meaning to the term “gladhanding”. Garth Clarke, North Sydney

Moving the Powerhouse museum is not just about its contents but about showing the buildings of what used to be the The Ultimo Power Station, or Ultimo Powerhouse on the site where it first began in about 1899. What historical buildings and sites will be shipped out of Sydney next? The Rocks – to Rathmines, perhaps? The Opera House to Orange? Ariel Johnson,  Elizabeth Beach

5 August, 2017
‘Not a skerrick of good sense’ (unpublished)
Anne Summers’ Opinion Piece in the SMH today surely must make the Premier and her advisors, and the former Premier Mike Baird and his many and varied advisors, wake up and take notice. There is not a skerrick of good sense from beginning to end of this Powerhouse saga that can be shown to account for the waffle and hyperbole and expense, of declaring as policy an obvious ‘thought bubble’ to demolish and re-build the Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta. The Inquiry Report has not yet been delivered but as an observer on a couple of occasions and having read many of the transcripts, I can assure the Premier and the former Premier that the balance of probability is that the Report will not make the recommendation to demolish. In fact my sympathy is currently with the Premier in that she is having to bear the brunt of the former Premier’s huge mistake on this. But back to Anne Summers and her clear and forthright condemnation of the proposal: if the Premier and/or the former Premier can refute anything she says, they should do so now.  But as Summers requests, the government has to learn to love the museum as we the people of NSW do ‘and, in order to show that appreciation, invest in it.’ Jane Burns AM, Randwick. (unpublished)

3 August, 2017
‘River powerhouse’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
If I remember correctly, on the morning of Saturday, April 30, 1988, the Lennox bridge over the Parramatta River was closed because of flooding, and the chosen site for the new Powerhouse Museum would have been well and truly inundated. Let us hope that faith placed in subsequent upstream flood mitigation is not misplaced. Otherwise, it will be a sad legacy of this government if the contents of a museum showcasing our progressive mastering of natural forces were to be swept away by mother nature. Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

All supporters of the Powerhouse Museum remaining where it is must be feel very happy at Gladys’ latest announcement because this means that the move is almost certainly not going to happen. Jim Henderson, Summer Hill

 2 August, 2017
‘The Powerhouse Museum is not a political toy box of electoral opportunity’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Note to the Premier. The Powerhouse Museum is not a box of toys to be sent to a place of greater political opportunity (“Powerhouse plan short changes city”, August 1). Nor does Parramatta need the planes, trains and automobiles from Ultimo in order to build a new museum for the 21st century. The Powerhouse Museum belongs to the people of NSW, not the government of the day. We the people have endowed the museum through our taxes and generosity as donors to the collection. The museum is our legacy, the gift from previous generations to the present and the future. The Powerhouse Museum’s collections are held in trust for the people of NSW. They are not the tradable assets and political pawns of government.  Museums are built on foundations of public trust and the confidence of generations of donors and benefactors. That is what is betrayed by the Berejiklian Government’s reckless museum demolition plan. This government has no license to sell a well-loved cultural institution and fill the site with high rise apartments. Vacuous words about a remnant cultural space do not disguise the government’s uncivilised intent to destroy the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo. Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

It seems strange that the so-called sale of the flood-prone David Jones car park to the state government for $140 million as the site for a “bigger and better” Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta should occur one week before the beginning of the caretaker period for the local government elections on September 9. One can only wonder by what authority Amanda Chadwick, the unelected administrator of Parramatta Council, could have made this “deal” and on what basis the valuation was made. Was it because the council to be elected on September 9 might not consider it a good result for the ratepayers of Parramatta? Premier Berejiklian and her Arts Minister, Don Harwin, are insulting the intelligence of the people of Western Sydney.
Marina Garlick, Balmain

I agree with Andrew Nimmo with his view on the Powerhouse Museum and I know thousands of other Sydneysiders would agree. There should be two museums. It is obvious to everyone except the government. I would like to remind them that they are elected and paid by the public, to serve us and not sell property owned by the public. This state government should be called the Property Development Party as it is acting as a pseudo private business serving its own ambitions. I encourage everyone to go to the museum and enjoy the exhibits and the building, which is an amazing space inside with so much of its history still intact. It would be outright vandalism to tear it down. Mark Olesen, Ryde

So we have a NSW government decision to move the Powerhouse Museum, thus freeing up a valuable chunk of Ultimo for developers with no business plan or community consultation? Mr Baird who started this process will be grateful to Ms Berejiklian for yet another grand project in his new job of helping the bank to profit from former public assets. School kids wanting to visit the new museum will no doubt be able to travel there on a light rail system that necessitates several transfers to accommodate the inevitable alterations of track width on a journey of such magnitude. Marshall Smither, Manly

The people of Western Sydney deserve better than a museum named the Powerhouse. The people of Sydney and beyond, deserve better than the destruction of a historic museum at Ultimo, to be replaced by an apartment block and an undefined construct called a “cultural space”. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

There is no information about the costs of the move, the construction of the new building, the amount of space to be made available, the future of the collections and the date of the opening. Museum specialists estimate the cost of the relocation could be approximately $1 billion. It is a matter of great concern that the Premier has made this decision while the state department’s consultation process and a business plan have yet to be completed. Without this information it is difficult to see how the public can have confidence in the validity of the proposal to move the Powerhouse to Parramatta. Darani Lewers, Seaforth

July 25, 2017
‘Design capital’ slips
(Sydney Morning Herald)
How can Sydney ever consider becoming a ‘design capital’ (Letters July 24), when the Powerhouse Museum – the city’s only museum intentioned for design exhibitions and owning design artefacts – no longer has a design curator and is about to have a purpose-built Sulman architecture award-winning building demolished? Polly Seidler, Darlinghurst

5 May, 2017
‘Don’t like to be a moaner, but cut the politics’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Given that the proposed Powerhouse Museum ‘political’ move to Parramatta is predicated on many of the founding myths of MONA (‘MONA divides Hobart’, May 4  Read more), do the people of Parramatta really want a second-hand museum, formerly known as Powerhouse, foisted up on them? Research suggests that cultural development in Parramatta informed by community consultation would see a cultural icon develop from their local Indigenous and colonial heritage. The Government should listen to the people, not the avaricious development lobby.
Lionel Glendenning, Russell Lea

 22 April, 2017
‘Hidden Treasure trove’: 
(Sydney Morning Herald)
It is curious that the Discovery Centre in Castle Hill never gets a mention in the debate on shifting the Powerhouse to the floodplains of Parramatta. The centre contains a huge display of items from the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Australian Museum and Sydney Living Museums, with $10 admission. Michael Bogle, Surry Hills

 21 April, 2017
‘Powerhouse still at risk’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
The signs are good regarding the Powerhouse Museum, but the battle is far from won (‘Powerhouse Museum may retain Ultimo site’ April 20). David Borger, in his unbridled enthusiasm for Western Sydney, is still prepared to convert the historic Powerhouse precinct into an apartment block. If that goes ahead, many capital items such as the priceless Boulton & Watt steam engine, the Catalina flying boat, Loco 1 and its carriages, will become collateral damage. Gary Horvai, Pennant Hills

21 April, 2017
‘Smithsonian, no less’ (The Daily Telegraph)
The Powerhouse Museum belongs to the people of NSW, not Parramatta, Ultimo or even Sydney. (‘Parra Power under threat’, 20/4) It shouldn’t be moved just because Mike Baird wanted to develop the existing site. Mr Baird publicly said it would be Australia’s Smithsonian. By all means! The Smithsonian consists of 19 museums and galleries on separate sites. Have a Powerhouse annex at Parramatta using exhibits from storage that never see the light of day. How about a Powerhouse Newcastle annex too? Keith Parsons, Newcastle

5 April, 2017
‘Parramatta parameter’
(The Daily Telegraph)
In response to Trevor Kennedy (4 April), David Borger supported Peter Collins’s argument (3 April) for moving the Powerhouse Museum in total. He referred to a recent Hill PDA Business Impact Study, but quoted only business figures for the city and made no reference to the costs of relocation, or acknowledgement of the cultural and heritage role of museums and galleries and their relationship to audiences and communities. David Borger, Western Sydney Business Chamber

 4 April, 2017
‘Powerhouse Conundrum’
(The Daily Telegraph)
What an appalling piece by Peter Collins (‘Museum’s place in the heart of the city’, 3/4 ). Not a lot of stats to justify his assertions that shifting the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta will create thousands of jobs and visitations and that our estimates of the costs involved in the transfer are overstated. Some more facts please. Trevor Kennedy, Milson’s Point.

21 December, 2016
‘Powerhouse recognised’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
The city’s original proposal, supported by Cate Blanchett, was for a harbourside walk from Walsh Bay to the Opera House – and that’s what’s been approved, a harbour trail that takes walkers from Darling Harbour around to Woolloomooloo (‘Blanchett’s cultural ribbon shredded, December 20).
The city is working on better way-finding signage and shared programming between cultural venues, and last week’s council resolution explicitly recognised the Powerhouse Museum as part of a future walk focused on the design/tech sector clustered in Pyrmont and Ultimo. I do not cave into government pressure – and the greatest challenge for the Powerhouse is the bipartisan Labor/Liberal agreement to destroy it. Clover Moore, Lord mayor, Sydney  (See also earlier council minute from Lord Mayor, in March 2015, confirming support for the Museum. Read more )

25 November, 2016
Letters: Sydney Morning Herald:
Following CEO of UrbanGrowth NSW, David Pitchforth’s, defence of their planning proposals (see letter 24 November) a swarm of angry letters followed.

‘Heritage comes last in growth of urban centres’
It is galling to see David Pitchford (Letters, November 24) crowing about vibrant communities and protecting Indigenous and colonial heritage in Parramatta North. We are having imposed on us a new, 30,000-seat football stadium, the answer to a question that no one asked. In the process, Parramatta Memorial Pool will be demolished, no proper consultation, no discussion, no commitment to a replacement. Surely a pool used every day of the year for recreation, learning, sport and general wellbeing trumps a monolithic edifice with limited public access, used largely for profit-making entities and the consequential promotion of alcohol and gambling? What’s vibrant about that?
As for the protection of Indigenous and colonial heritage, Urban Growth and the Baird government continue to ignore proposals for the restoration of the Cumberland Hospital Precinct as public open space and the heritage buildings preserved and used for cultural, learning and entertainment purposes. This precious precinct is inextricably linked to our Indigenous history and the very beginnings of the colony.
They incessantly peddle the lie that in order to preserve our heritage buildings it is necessary to flog off the open space for private development. Heritage is just a nuisance to this NSW government. Bob Edgar, Westmead

‘Greenery not UrbanGrowth in Parramatta’
I don’t mind David Pitchford – chief of UrbanGrowth NSW – tooting his own horn “Laying solid foundations to make communities vibrant” (Letters, November 24) but please make sure you are playing all the sheet music. He has conveniently just played the chorus the community in Parramatta hear over and over again: “restoring the heritage core”.
Mr Pitchford seems to have forgotten many verses of the UGNSW propaganda song. Like proposing to sell the surrounding 20 hectares of public land equally as historic for private residential development. Or the second verse of proposing 4000 private residential units in towers up to 30 stories just metres from the oldest convict female factory in Australia – ruining any chance of its well deserved Unesco world heritage listing.
Well we have a little ditty for you Mr Pitchford, and it goes like this: UrbanGrowth are not welcome by the community in Parramatta. We will be standing shoulder to shoulder to uphold our green ban Jack Mundey and the CFMEU placed on this entire site until you and the new “Landcom on steroids” hit the road. Suzette Meade, Toongabbie

Thank you David Pitchford, CEO UrbanGrowth NSW, but a great deal of what you are building or designing is not necessarily wanted by the general public. Barangaroo is an ongoing travesty and the Sydney Fish Markets looks likely to follow the same path. Don’t mention the Powerhouse Museum. Constantly we are being told what is good for us but very seldom, if ever, is this backed up by published business cases that demonstrate the need, the positive outcome and a cost/benefit to the public of the investment.
Greater Sydney is crying out for a properly integrated public transport system that will enable projects to be built in appropriate locations that are accessible to the general public by public transport. The only “growth” seems to be in the size of developers’ wallets. Robin Humphrey, Springwood

Thank you UrbanGrowth, my core competencies have never felt so value-added since I read your letter (November 24). If you could lay foundations on incomprehensible jargon, then the future of Sydney’s resilient and connected communities are indeed looking vibrant. I can’t tell you how impressed I am that you’ve reached 10 major milestones across your portfolio, because I have no idea what you are talking about. As for entering the marketplace, putting runs on the board and topping out something at Green Square, Great, I think? Or bad luck, maybe? Hopefully that landmark agreement you’ve signed involving university students in future city thinking will help? Any chance of some trees? Phil Bradshaw, Naremburn

David Pitchford your letter was a gem. All action, driving, achieving: ‘ten major milestones’, and ‘runs on the board’ buttressed with powerful abstractions: ‘foundations’, ‘landmark’, ‘marketplace’ and ‘transformations’, three of them. Took me back to my days in public service, just before afternoon tea and an early mark. Philip Moore, Fairlight

If UrbanGrowth NSW is involving university students in “future city thinking”, it might ask Sydney University students what they think of the ditching of two separate projects in recent years to provide a metro connection to Sydney University, a current proposal to build a western metro nowhere near it, and not even a light rail proposal to connect the University with the CBD.
Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

David Pitchford of UrbanGrowth NSW states that plans for White Bay Power Station and Sydney Fish Markets “compares to Barangaroo”. Heaven help Sydney. Margaret Grove, Abbotsford

24 November, 2016
‘Laying solid foundations to make communities vibrant’
We can no longer let claims by your newspaper that we “do not have much of a record” go unchallenged (‘Terracotta Warriors’, November 22).
In its three short years, UrbanGrowth NSW has laid solid foundations to create vibrant, resilient and connected communities. To suggest otherwise is ill-informed and ignores an outstanding year for the organisation. In the last six months alone, we have reached at least 10 major milestones across our portfolio. If Sydney thinks it is lagging in major urban transformation projects, it need not panic.  After only two years, we have entered the marketplace on the White Bay Power Station and Sydney Fish Market projects. This compares to Barangaroo, which is still under construction 19 years since it first came onto the agenda. Since June we have put many “runs on the board”, including a transformation plan for Parramatta Road; topping out the first residential development at Green Square and unlocking more than 10,000 new home sites across Greater Sydney four months ahead of schedule. We also signed a landmark agreement with 10 NSW universities to involve students in future city thinking and commenced work on protecting our indigenous and colonial heritage at Parramatta North. As we plan for Sydney’s population growth, the case for sensible, sustainable urban transformation is stronger than ever.
David Pitchford, UrbanGrowth NSW CEO, Sydney

12 November, 2016
‘Another sell-off, another sell-out’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
What a disgrace to see the Lands and Education buildings, two priceless pieces of Sydney’s history, joining the long list of heritage assets flogged by the Baird Government (‘Another life for city’s grand old dame’, November 11). Gone for just $35m. There was no testing to see if these distinguished public buildings might have had another life as a design or history museum, two missing links in Sydney’s cultural infrastructure, or an extension of the Art Gallery of NSW. Next on the block is the Powerhouse Museum and the nationally significant Fleet Street heritage precinct in Parramatta, which has been part of the government domain since 1788. No other global city with any cultural ambition or civic sensibility would be selling these irreplaceable heritage assets out of public ownership. What price heritage? Well now we know, and it’s low, very low. The government is selling our heritage to developers for a pittance.
Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

Perhaps as an attempt to justify the ‘sale’ of yet another NSW government asset, this time the heritage-listed and prominent Sydney landmark, the Lands Building in Bridge Street, the spin doctors have spun the lie that the building was closed to the public since the 1880s. The building was purpose-built for the Lands Department, which occupied it from then until some years ago. For all that time the public had access to the building for business with that department and indeed there were public counters on the ground floor, which served as a shop front, open five days a week during business hours. I would suggest the Lands Building for most of its life had greater public access than most government offices of today. I worked in the building for over 14 years and in my role saw and interacted with countless members of the public. The alienation of this government-built and owned landmark to serve largely private interests is bad enough. To help justify it with an untruth is another matter.
Michael Ockwell, Griffith (ACT) Former Deputy Director-General, NSW Department of Conservation and Land Management

A massive, beautiful, sandstone government-owned building in the centre of Sydney is leased for a 103 years for a miserable $35 million to a hotel developer. Besides the madness of selling off another priceless state asset, the price seems absurdly low. Alan Morris, Eastlakes

7 November, 2016
‘Labor no Powerhouse’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
One can only agree with Lindsay Sharp’s analysis of the absurd and costly proposal to move the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta (‘Panto horse designed by fools, November 5-6). But it is not only the Baird government at fault in this. NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has resolutely refused to oppose the move, claiming that Labor will wait for the business case before deciding. At the same time, Walt Secord, Opposition spokesman for the arts, has been quoted in the press as saying he has supported the move since 2010, thus being in breach of his party’s official position. Secord is a member of the Upper House Inquiry into Museums and Galleries and so has heard the overwhelming evidence against the Powerhouse move which has been presented to this committee.
The Labor Opposition needs to take a principled stand and support the retention of the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo. This need not preclude development of a cultural facility in Parramatta that the residents of western Sydney actually want. Marina Garlick, Balmain

5-6 November, 2016
‘Panto horse designed by fools’
, on-line as ‘Gobbledygook masks the true colours of museum scheme’  (Sydney Morning Herald)
“Boilerplate” is American for corporate zombie-speak. Professor Barney Glover’s letter (November 3) is classic, meaningless drivel: “iconic, world-class, vision”. Such persiflage hides the truth of a project totally lacking in community consultation. It’s wasting hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of excellent facilities in magnificent, much awarded heritage buildings, located next to Darling Harbour’s revamped 40 million visitor destination and perfectly suited to the stories and experiences encompassed in world class collections. The myth has been busted that sale of the site will pay for a new facility in Parramatta, which many westerners do not want on a site which now appears not only flood-prone but also requiring additional, expensive consolidation.
Over 40 reports have been suppressed – as the Government Information Privacy Act (GIPA) sourced, Herald-facilitated 2015 documents have shown. The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Board hides behind the disingenuous skirts of a rotting, secretive government. Inevitably, when subjected to methodical analysis, the so-called “final” business plan for Cabinet will demonstrate glaring gaps and questionable assumptions reinforcing the hugely expensive “move” of the Powerhouse Museum as a nonsense.
As with so many other mega projects, this one will prove subject to major cost blow outs. As for the esteemed director? Strange how, overwhelmingly, other experienced museologists disagree with the project’s fundamentals and so-called planning process. Far from being a camel – this is a pantomime horse designed by a ship of fools. Let us see the suppressed documents and carry out proper, thorough analysis of this “business plan” – aided by fulsome, honest responses from government at the Upper House Inquiry’s next hearing on November 14.
Lindsay Sharp, Foxground. (Founding director, Powerhouse Museum, 1978-1988)

4 November, 2016
Museum vision: tell us another one!
(SMH unpublished)
Barney Glover (November 3) failed to explain why both he, as President of Trustees, and the Director of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, continue to speak positively about the controversial proposed move of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta. We all know that they, along with all staff at MAAS, are prohibited from speaking about anything that has not been approved by Government. The excuse of ‘Cabinet-in-confidence’ is hiding Government’s complete lack of transparency in making its ‘decision’ while only now developing a belated business plan.
As has been made clear in the submissions and transcripts associated with the current Inquiry into Museums and Galleries, such excuses further obscure the obviously poor planning processes of Premier Baird and his Government. They have been repeatedly exposed as having made the decision for relocation without informed consultation and research into characteristics and needs of audiences in either location, or effective calculations for the necessary space, costs and site requirements – all for the benefit of yet another heritage-significant site sell-off which will not raise enough funds to cover the move. Equally, many people in Parramatta are criticising what is seen as an ill-considered golden hand-out. They want to present alternative proposals for a gallery and museum precinct focusing on their own history and current population and which could host satellite venues or touring projects from all city cultural institutions. Thousands of people, including scores of former museum professionals such as myself, hope desperately that the Inquiry will seek a review of the current ‘decision’ and make recommendations to investigate other options.  Grace Cochrane, Summer Hill

‘Little confidence in cabinet secrets’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
I’m so glad Barney Glover (Letters, November 3) has cleared everything up. An ‘unprecedented opportunity’ and a ‘new iconic world-class museum’. How exciting! Regarding the points raised by Leo Schofield (Letters, October 27) and others, there’s no need to worry. It’s all in the business plan. Of course, in the best tradition of NSW politics, the business plan is “cabinet in confidence” – so no details can be revealed. We simply have to take Barney’s word for it that it will be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Just like the business plans for the Cross City Tunnel and the Lane Cove Tunnel, I guess. Bill Tango, Manly

Hooray. Just what we need, another business case that is ‘cabinet in confidence’, like WestConnex, the Northwest Rail Link, light rail projects, electricity/asset sales, etc. So, if the new museum at Parramatta doesn’t stack up, just like the others, we, the people, will not be allowed to know. Isn’t democracy great? Robin Humphrey, Springwood

3 November, 2016
‘Museum vision’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
In his recent letter (October 27) former Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) trustee, Leo Schofield, highlights some areas of clear misunderstanding in the building of a new Museum in Parramatta.
Firstly, considerations of cost, design, and collection management are the subject of a comprehensive business case, which is being prepared for government’s consideration. This business case will provide a detailed estimate of the project costs and establish a best practice recommendation for the museum’s transition.
Secondly, this business case is considered by government to be cabinet in confidence, and as such, it is not at the discretion of the museum’s director nor the trust president to release the detail of this document.
The museum is now faced with, subject to final approval by cabinet, an unprecedented opportunity to deliver on the government’s vision of a new, iconic world-class museum in Parramatta; an opportunity which requires creativity, innovation and energy. The MAAS Trust sees this energy and vision in the museum’s director Dolla Merrillees, who is a highly respected museum professional providing outstanding leadership and advocacy.
Barney Glover president, MAAS board of trustees.

27 October, 2016
‘Powerhouse problems’ 
(Sydney Morning Herald)
How grateful we must be that Andrew Taylor (“Plans to move the Powerhouse ‘don’t add up’“, October 26) is telling it like it is. There are no plans for the hijacking of the Power House Museum so the site can be flogged off to developers, no actual acquisition of land, no credible costings for the proposed move, no plans for the building, no nominated architect and an inexperienced director who seems not to be up to the job. The Baird government is attempting to paper over the yawning cracks in its cultural policy with the appointment of a silvertail celebrity committee to rubber stamp its plans. These aesthetic overlords – there are fifteen of them! – are well known in the modish world of contemporary art but have zero to little experience of museum practice and collection management.
It’s ironical that in its in-house, on line survey of public attitudes to the Powerhouse, now retro-brand the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the current board places more emphasis on fashion than on decorative arts, one of the strongest elements of the Powerhouse collection.
Leo Schofield Potts Point

 23 October, 2016
‘Plans for the west make no sense’,
on-line as ‘Off the rails’ (The Sun-Herald)
The news that the NSW government’s plan for upgrading public transport facilities in Sydney’s west has blown out by $2.5 billion defies belief (“Baird’s bad news week: $2.5b rail blowout”, October 16). This announcement comes before a sod has been even been turned. We can be certain that the final cost will far exceed the revised estimate. How could it be so far out?
The other proposal for western Sydney’s development is the removal of the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo to Parramatta. The cost of this is another example of government waste. The museum is very popular. The large majority of its visitors come from inner city residents and tourists. Few of these will travel all the way to Parramatta.
Furthermore, the disruption to the museum coupled with the loss of revenue during the changeover period will be immense. Many experienced staff will be lost. The whole concept makes no sense whatsoever and has not been properly thought through. Michael Wilson, St Ives

 7 September, 2016
‘Powerhouse proposal a monumental folly’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
I served for a decade on the board of trustees for the Powerhouse Museum from 1988. Over that period, Trevor Kennedy and I helped raise millions for the new museum, specifically to enrich an already irreplaceable, if somewhat eclectic, collection of 400,000 objects.
Imagine then, how dispiriting it has been to watch the gradual stripping of funds from the Powerhouse culminating in the absurd and profligate proposal to re-locate this historic institution in western Sydney (‘Powerhouse move could cost up to $1 billion’, September 6). Can de-accession of holdings and donations be the next move in the interests of ‘efficiency dividends’, whatever that phrase may mean.
In the torrent of weasel words spewed out by government to justify this folly, one finds scant mention of the word “collections” nor of the cultural and tourism value of restoring the Powerhouse to its rightful place in the cultural heart and affections of Sydney. It’s difficult to view the proposed move to Parramatta as anything other than yet another trophy disposal of a taxpayer-funded public asset to developers. Leo Schofield, Potts Point

The NSW government’s proposal to relocate the Powerhouse Museum is a bit like a proposal to move the British Museum from central London to Watford. Except for one thing. That would never happen in England. If this travesty is allowed to happen here, then it is for the developers who want the site for some appalling multi-storey block of units to stump up the billion-dollar cost of the relocation. Not the NSW tax-payers as outlined by this Baird government.
Peter Diamond, Berkley Vale

December, 2015
‘Responsible or reprehensible?’ 
(to SMH; unpublished)
In her account of the NSW government’s short-sighted decision to transplant the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta (Andrew Taylor, SMH 23/12), Liz-Anne Macgregor, herself director of a contemporary art gallery in Sydney CBD, has given no consideration to other options for the Museum’s future. Despite the privileged central location of her own institution, Macgregor is the Premier’s ‘cultural ambassador for western Sydney’.
It is impossible to believe that the Premier has sought no further opinions about alternatives to his rationale, widely perceived to be for raising money in the city and votes in the west. But it is true. When quizzed about researching other options for the development of the Museum, Macgregor told a small delegation recently that such considerations were not part of her role, and that she was not interested in exploring them. She represents only ‘the west’. And, irresponsibly, for both the Powerhouse and Parramatta, the Premier has not investigated further.
SMH readers are among the thousands of people who are part of a gigantic public backlash against the proposal to move the museum and demolish its historic site. They recognise that its unique integrated collection of science, technology, decorative arts, design and social history, is of international as well as Australian significance, and belongs in the city centre where it has been for over 130 years. The Powerhouse, depleted in staff and running costs, needs extension, certainly, but that can happen on the current or an adjacent site. It will cost many millions more to move the whole museum than the government will earn from sale of the property, so a total transplant can only result in a second-rate and less accessible facility in Parramatta.
Parramatta, of course, deserves its own contemporary and historical cultural institutions, while further options for the west can include branches or projects from all city-based state cultural institutions, but not thoughtless, poorly-researched total transfers.
It is reassuring that, as a result of a strong petition, questions will be raised in Parliament in February, with a demand to review the decision and seek professional advice from experienced people who know museums and their audiences, and who know this collection and its significance. Museum staff are not permitted to comment, and we have heard nothing from current Trustees. Are they gagged too? It is left to concerned outsiders, including politicians and former museum directors, curators, managers and trustees, and related organisations, planners and policymakers, to address the serious discrepancies in the current proposal. Based on considerable experience, many have already written informed and useful papers which can contribute to such a review. The government must take this responsibility seriously. Grace Cochrane, Summer Hill