The facts about the Powerhouse Museum ‘move’: Tom Lockley

The facts about the Powerhouse Museum ‘move’.

This paper takes the view that if we do not preserve and publicise the remarkable achievements represented by our heritage we have failed those that came before us, and what is worse, we have failed the generations to come. Also, the view is taken that the heritage and culture of Australia is not the property of politicians to be sold off at a whim. It is a national and international treasure of which they have the absolute privilege of being the guardian. Of course, they have the responsibility to pass it on to future generations in a continually improving condition, but the improvements must be made as the result of expert input, and be mindful of the public benefit resulting.

Evidence is presented indicating that the NSW Government’s plans for museum organisational changes in Paramatta and Ultimo are flawed to such an extent that democratic norms are being constantly circumvented.

This paper deals only with the PROCESS by which this project has been carried out. Not surprisingly, the PRODUCT that is being developed is also very flawed. This is not addressed here, but the website has many professional assessments of the ‘Powerhouse Parramatta’ and ‘Powerhouse Ultimo’, demonstrating that these establishments will never constitute a world class museum. The Government itself no longer characterises these establishments as ‘museums’.

One submission to the first Inquiry makes a very valid point: ‘While the NSW government has produced a myriad of cultural plans and strategies since 2015 …none of them specifically provide a policy framework in which we can make sense of the rationale for the move of the Powerhouse to Parramatta’ [1]

Our fourth major iteration of our fact sheet is being widely distributed, is deliberately kept to a single a4 sheet, and is a summary of this document. The following pages provide the supporting evidence for the assertions made. Comments and additional material are appreciated and major additional material, and any Government response, will be circulated widely.

Tom Lockley, November 2021


1.0: Authorship of this document
2.0:  Glossary for this document
3.0. The current fact sheet: Supporting material
4.0 Endnotes

1.0 Authorship of this document

Since May 2016 an email group has functioned, where information, comment and suggestions on the ‘move’ project (see glossary below) have been collected. I have edited the information and as relevant sent bulletins out to the members of the email group and used the information in various ways. Beginning in mid-2017 a series of fact sheets and other publications have been developed and widely circulated, including to politicians and relevant Government instrumentalities. The sheets have been restricted to a single page. The sheets have always requested that any errors should be reported to me and I will immediately publicise them and make any necessary corrections.

Government responses have been irrelevant to the points made. Even obviously false information provided by the Government, eg in Inquiry evidence, has not been corrected [2], despite many requests, and the veil of secrecy that pervades the whole project persists.

I ask that the information in this document should be assessed purely on the basis of its rigour and the factual evidence contained in it.

Responsibility for this document is taken by Tom Lockley, PO Box 301 Pyrmont NSW 2009, easily contactable on

2.0 Glossary for this document.

INSW: Infrastructure New South Wales is, according to its website, a part of the NSW Government which provides ‘independent and strategic advice to the NSW Government to make sure NSW gets the infrastructure it needs’, It then claims that it turns ‘world-class plans into world-class projects through a specialist unit in complex project delivery,… presenting the NSW Government with independent oversight of NSW’s infrastructure program’.. [3] . This definition is to be weighed against the actual actions of INSW throughout the ‘move’ affair
Government: this is whoever is actually making the basic decisions about the ‘move’ project (qv). The process is secretive, but there is no evidence of significant involvement of principal stakeholders (qv) in the crucial decisions announced, for example, on 26 November 2014 and 4 July 2020.
Principal Stakeholders: These include the museum trustees, and the wider museum community of supporters, notable donors, former trustees and sponsors and life fellows. The professional museum staff, past and present, are also important here. Volunteers have a wealth of knowledge, experience and commitment, some extending over three decades. Elected local government authorities deserve consideration, even for ‘State Significant Projects’. Formal education programs are important to many schools and tertiary institutions, and this field should be a part of decision-making, both at the institutional level and from ‘coal face’ educational practitioners for whom the museum has been an important part of their curricular offerings, often over many years. The wider research capabilities of a properly functioning museum involve many people and institutions who make use of the museum as a resource. Heritage organisations such as the National Trust have important and relevant involvement, particularly concerning the Ultimo buildings and Willow Grove. Finally there is the public in general, local, state-wide, and nation-wide, and even of the whole world, for whom this museum is a cultural treasure. It should be noted that a huge amount of voluntary effort has been made by these people, with no consideration of financial benefit, motivated solely by their desire to achieve the best outcome for the huge expenditure proposed by the Government.
‘move’: this covers the whole project involving THE Powerhouse MUSEUM Ultimo and the proposed facility at Parramatta (qv), which has varied in its intent over the nearly seven years of the project.
Proposed facility at Parramatta: this means whatever the Government intends at any given time to build at Parramatta on the Riverside site. The Government wishes it to be known as ‘Powerhouse Parramatta’ (the word ‘museum’ is no longer used by the Government in this context [4] ) and there is an overwhelming body of opinion supporting the idea that this will not be a ‘museum to rival the Smithsonian’ and fears that it will not be a ‘world class’ museum. The understanding of this project is handicapped by Government secrecy about its plans and by the several arbitrary decisions that have been suddenly made (and often similarly abandoned) during the process [5].
THE Powerhouse MUSEUM: a properly functioning, properly resourced, world class museum at the Ultimo site, in its heritage buildings, concentrating on the interface between the applied arts and sciences and showcasing Australian initiatives and achievements in these fields. This type of facility existed in the past, and until about 2014 the main elements of this definition were still in place. It was unique in Australia in providing a collection crossing science and technology, decorative arts and design and social history (a Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences).
‘Cabinet in Confidence’: the Government uses this phrase to avoid presenting material that properly outlines their intentions. It may include matters which are not disclosed to the public because they are claimed to be ‘Commercial in Confidence’. Our understanding is that this latter claim for secrecy mainly applies when commercial negotiations are being conducted with more than one potential entity, but the Government uses it to conceal many other information useful to the public as well as financial matters.
First inquiryInquiry into museums and galleries, established on 23 June 2016 by the Legislative Council to inquire into and report on museums and galleries, finalised 17 October 2019. Website
Second inquiryThe Select Committee on the Government’s management of the Powerhouse Museum and other museums and cultural projects in New South Wales, established on 27 February 2020 by the Legislative Council and still in progress. Website
I: this indicates actions and publications made by me alone
We: This indicates matters and publications supported by other members of the anti ‘move’ forces, which are united in broad common cause.
3.0 The current fact sheet: Supporting material
The remainder of this document is an annotated version of a basic fact sheet, providing full supportive evidence, that has been widely circulated and checked for accuracy.

In regard to the ‘move’ of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, these are basic facts of the process followed by the Government:
Alternatives were never properly investigated. No significant expert input was involved. There was no consultation on basic issues with any significant stakeholders. These deficiencies have persisted over the nearly seven years since the basic announcement. The Government has imposed excessive secrecy and taken special non-democratic measures to avoid following due process. The opposition to the project expressed by the general public and the and museum and arts community is unprecedented. However, their reasoned, evidence-based, criticisms and the comprehensive Legislative Council Inquiry report have been treated with contempt. The financial aspects of the project have been very badly managed, and the waste of taxpayers’ money is enormous. The heritage aspects of the whole move are also relevant here. Though the initial plans have been modified and the situation has improved, the autocratic decision-making process persists, with consequent ongoing problems.

Detailed references:

  1. Alternatives were not investigated. There is near-universal support for the general improvement of cultural facilities, particularly at Parramatta, the centre of population of Greater Sydney. The idea of moving THE Powerhouse MUSEUM to Parramatta was first suggested in documents such asState Infrastructure Strategy Update Recommendations to the NSW Government (November 2014) [6] , seeking ‘urgent investigation’ of the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, but it is clear that no such investigation was ever done: the Government has never released any information about it and their claim that Ms Macgregor, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, conducted an appropriate study has never been substantiated [7] (see also next section). The project was originally based on the idea that sale of THE Powerhouse MUSEUM site for ‘urban renewal’ would finance the new museum in Parramatta, but this was an incompetent assessment (see paragraph 9). There is thus no record of any competent examination of alternatives, either before the initial announcement of the ‘move’ (26/11/2014) or since. Infrastructure NSW, the relevant body, has clearly stated that its involvement ‘takes as its starting point the Government’s decision to locate the Powerhouse Museum on the Riverbank site in Parramatta’[8]It did not conduct any investigation of alternatives.
  2. Expert assistance was not involved in the fundamental decision.Any advice given by Ms Macgregor is held secret by the Government, and its validity is therefore unknown. However she has stated that she ‘mainly consulted with the Western Sydney Arts and Cultural Lobby’ [9], (WSA&CL)who are not widely representative, offered only limited support [10] and seem to be no longer functioning [11]. There is therefore negligible evidence of input from any relevant expert, any museum / arts peak body, any of the local government authorities of the area, or any other cultural group. 37 major cultural institutions [12] of the area covered by the WSA&CL were not consulted in any way. Mr Borger, of the then Western Sydney Business Chamber seems to have had significant input [13], – see paragraph 8. [14]
  3. No consultation with stakeholders occurred before the announcement,as exemplified by the fact that even the Museum trustees [15] and the Parramatta City Council [16] were not even informed of the decision before it was announced.
  4. These deficiencies have persisted over the nearly seven years since the basic announcement. See paragraph 5 for fuller comments on consultation. At no time has a Government-sponsored group containing people with relevant expertise examined alternatives. If there had been appropriate examination of alternatives, this project would never have been considered, eg for reasons mentioned in paragraph 9. Involvement of museum people at all significant levels seems to have been minimal: the demolition (March 2021) of the massive display structures on level 1 at Ultimo was certainly not done to recognised museum standards [17]. The Trustees’ major known requirements (1/9/2016) [18] were for the Parramatta museum to use the whole site, with no commercial encumbrances, and be of at least the scale and scope of Ultimo with sufficient funding for the ‘move’ and running of the museum. Beginning January 2019, we sought confirmation from Professor Glover that these conditions had been met, but he passed responsibility for the answer to a MAAS executive officer, who, despite many reminders, did not respond. At the time of this officer’s departure from MAAS a year later (30/11/2020) Professor Glover again did not respond when asked if his conditions had been met. [19]

At the first Inquiry, Mr Baird claimed wide support for the ‘move’ and was asked to name even one museum / arts organisation that had supported the relocation [20]. Mr Baird took this question on notice but even when given three weeks to research the question, did not name any groups that supported the ‘move’. He claimed that the people were broadly appreciative of the Government’s investment in Western Sydney, and this is correct [21]. However there is no indication that the expenditure on transplanting THE Powerhouse MUSEUM to the Parramatta site would be the preferred option of any museum / arts group, especially considering the expenditure of a minimum $840 million [22]. Mr Baird stated that he no longer had access to his full diary for the period in question, but surely for a matter of this importance he could have made contact with the Premier’s office to obtain this information; failure to do so indicates either a low priority for democratic process. The only other explanation is that there was indeed no significant arts / museum organisation that publicly preferred the ‘move’ process to all other ways of improving the cultural facilities of the state.

  1. Treasury document tpp08-5 [23] (2008) clearly set out the need for all major projects to evaluate the base case(the situation that would obtain if a proposed development did not occur) and then to evaluate the alternatives for achieving the stated aim, which in this case should simply be to improve the cultural facilities of the Parramatta area. These requirements were strengthened in TPP18-06 [24] of 2018, particularly when considered in conjunction with TPP18-05, Government Commissioning and Contestability Policy  [25]. (2016) The Government has completely sidestepped these requirements by declaring the base case to be the Government’s decision to move the museum. We have sought explanation of the legal and moral basis of this action, without response. This special measure avoids following proper process as all consultation has been only on what the public wants at the Parramatta facility and at any retained cultural facility at Ultimo. This has resulted in the farcical situation where, for example, the NSW National Trust has constantly and repeatedly expressed reasoned opposition to the entire project [26] but this has been entirely ignored in reporting their reaction to the ‘move’ [27]. Another case study is the acquisition of the riverside land for the Parramatta facility. The elected Parramatta Council had consistently supported the retention of this area as open space [28], but was controlled by a Government-appointed administrator due to forced council amalgamations (12/5/2016- 23/10/2019). 68 days before the end of the tenure of the caretaker administrator the deal was completed ‘as a matter of urgency’. The Government’s statements that the elected council supported the ‘move’ are manifestly wrong, but this fact has not been acknowledged by the Government, despite clear evidence brought to their attention [29]. The deal has been ratified by the re-elected council, but by a narrow margin, reportedly from fear of offending the Government [30]. Yet another ramification is seen in the recent Land and Environment Court judgement on the future of Willow Grove, where the judgement specifically avoided discussion of the merit of the Government’s plans for the site vacated by this heritage building [31]
    Throughout the assessment process, it appears that the checking of the procedures used has been carried out by the Government’s own appointed officers, probably in many cases the same people who were instructed by the Government on what they wanted done.
  1. Secrecy has been a major feature of the Government’s actions. The lay understanding of ‘cabinet in confidence’ secrecy is that decisions taken by Cabinet are taken in secret, then supported by the whole group. The Government has used this mantra repeatedly, avoiding releasing basic information, eg the business case [32], the data used to form the business case [33] and even the terms of reference for people providing data to the people designing the business case [34]. Even the details of the fire regulations which allegedly underpinned the need for removal of the massive structures from level 1 in March 2021 have not been released, despite requests. [35]
  2. Opposition to the ‘move’ has been enormous [36]. Inter alia,full page protest advertisements (17/2/ 2016) were sponsored by the Powerhouse Museum Alliance which has maintained a website recording all news and proceedings. A large grass-roots movement was backed by Save the Powerhouse Facebook site [37]. This culminated in the massive first Inquiry into museums and galleries (23/6/2017 to 17/6/ 2019). Support for the ‘move’ was scant: apart from Government instrumentalities, the only submissions favourable to the move came from Mr Borger’s organisation and the Tourism and Transport forum, a lobby group associated with Mr Brown of the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue¸ another business lobby group. The consequent final report made a fully documented Finding that due process had not been followed, and several consequent recommendations. Numerous surveys have resulted in overwhelming support for retaining the Ultimo museum [38].This massive protest movement is spontaneous and participants are not motivated by personal interests or financial inducement.
  3. The Government rejected the first Inquiry findingin a brief statement (17/7/2019) that proper governance had been assured by a peer review group and six independent review panels. This statement was recycled from the Business Case Summary of April 2017 [39]. The Peer Review process as described has been comprehensively shown to be non- existent [40]. The Government has repeatedly been asked to remedy this erroneous statement and has not done so.  Even after a GIPA request [41] and subsequent appeal to Information and Privacy Commission NSW [42], all that we have been able to find out about the review panels is that a single document exists for each panel and the month in which this document was produced.[43]. Overall, the response to the Finding was so deficient as to be seen by many as demonstrating yet again the Government’s contempt for due process [44].
    Incidentally, a request to the Ombudsman seeking investigation of the process was rejected on the basis that the Ombudsman had no power to determine the merit of Governmental proposals but could only seek out evidence of wrong administrative conduct by a Government agency [45]. There seems to be no way that a member of the public can object to incompetent Government decisions.
  4. Plans for financing the ‘move’ have been irresponsible. The original proposal was that the Ultimo site would be sold for urban development which would fund the new museum in Parramatta, with any surplus used for arts purposes within the Parramatta area. This was supported by studies by professional consultancy groups, eg the Deloitte document Building Western Sydney’s Cultural Arts Economy(2015) sponsored by Sydney Business Chamber (Western Sydney) and still being quoted in 2021 by Government spokespeople [46]. This was soon shown to be ridiculous: the cost of removing and storing Ultimo exhibits and demolishing the museum would absorb almost all proceeds of the land sale ($250 million maximum) [47]. The latest ‘official’ cost for the project is $849 million, but museum experts put the cost at around $1.5 billion[48]. The idea of moving the large objects to Parramatta was far more expensive than any other cultural project: they would have to be last out of Ultimo and first into Parramatta, with consequent delays and huge cost, exacerbated by the need to insert the objects at the first floor level as shown in the design. Another example of financial irresponsibility is the decision to demolish and rebuild the Willow Grove building at Parramatta: it appears that this is another hurried Governmental decision not backed by any proper costing process[49] and the informed opinion is that proper reconstruction will be prohibitively expensive. This is also relevant to the next section.
  5. Heritage aspects of the ‘move’ have been overlooked. The repurposing of the powerhouse buildings was a highlight of the bicentennial celebrations of 1988, and achieved world-wide recognition [50]. The attachment of the community for both the Ultimo building and the heritage buildings at Parramatta is clear, and well-founded: these are marvellous historic buildings. Even if this does not weigh with the decision-makers, there is a clear and considerable monetary value engendered by heritage factors [51],which has been completely overlooked. The 2020 recommendation of heritage assessment of the Pyrmont buildings was restricted to the basic structure of the original Powerhouse, thereby precluding discussion of the overall museum as a heritage item, and leading to the ridiculous assertion that site had no persons or group of persons with which the building is associated [52]… and isimportant for its associations with an identifiable group … at a local level only [53]

4.0 Endnotes

1: Submission to second Inquiry, No 120 7 May 2020, page 3
2: Examples include the statement that INSW has responsibility for choosing this project (Torres Inquiry evidence, 14/11/2016), whereas INSW clearly states in the Summary Business Case (4/4/2018) that their involvement results from the Government’s ‘move’ decision; the non-existent Peer Review Panel mentioned in the Government’s response to the First Inquiry finding, and claims of support from the Parramatta council for the use of the Riverside site. All are outlined in this paper.
3: home page
4: Email from Mr Kennedy 5 October 2019 outlining the glossary of terms used by the ‘move’ project.
5: These include the original decision to ‘move’ THE Powerhouse MUSEUM and to sell the site for urban renewal (2014), which was followed by gradual changes leading to the retention of a ‘cultural presence’ at Ultimo. Also relevant is the practice of consultation on the project, where the objections to the total process are completely ignored, which began in late 2016. The creation of a Lyric Theatre to be built at Pyrmont (30/3/2018) and the erection of a Planetarium at Paramatta were both announced by the Government, with no obvious research, and later were abandoned. The purchase of the Riverside site at Parramatta (31/7/2019) is dealt with in paragraph 5. The decision of July 4, 2020, to retain the Ultimo buildings and some museum exhibits was welcomed as a step in the right direction, but was still a decision made by a small political group with no evident expert input.
6: Infrastructure NSW State Infrastructure Strategy Update 2014 Recommendations to the NSW Government November 2014: from the summary, page 117: ‘To anchor the new Parramatta cultural precinct, Infrastructure NSW recommends giving consideration (our underlining) to relocating the Powerhouse Museum. A relocated Powerhouse could be a core asset in the Parramatta precinct and a major addition to cultural infrastructure in the west’. This document also makes the risible assertion that ‘the Powerhouse Museum is site-constrained and located remotely from other key cultural institutions’ (page 121). This is wrong. For example, THE Powerhouse MUSEUM adjoins UTS, and is close to Sydney TAFE, Sydney University and Notre Dame University. It also adjoins the cultural precinct of Darling Harbour. There are other examples that illustrate the superior amenity of the Ultimo site, especially considering that MAAS has still been described as Australia’s premier museum dealing with the interface between the applied arts and sciences. As such, it should remain in its present position, most accessible not only for Sydney people but also for visitors from the rest of the state, the rest of Australia, and the rest of the world.
7:  Hon. Scott Farlow, MLC, is recorded in the Legislative Council Hansard, 8 August 2019 as follows: ‘Liz-Anne McGregor (sic) conducted the analysis of the need for a cultural institution in western Sydney and the suitability of the Powerhouse Museum to move, rather than creating a new cultural institution or transferring any other cultural institution’. We have consistently sought the release of this material, the only investigation of alternatives that has been mentioned. She made this judgement at the time when the Government had stated that the ‘move’ could be carried out with the proceeds of the sale of the site at Ultimo, with any surplus devoted to the development of the arts in Western Sydney. In January 2017 we asked Ms Macgregor if she still supported the idea in view of the emerging facts about cost, with no response. On her departure from her post as director of MCA we asked again if she still supported the ‘move’ idea and she did not reply. We have phoned, emailed and sent two registered letters seeking this information.
8:  Final Business Case Summary: Powerhouse Museum in Western Sydney April 2018, INSW, p. 2
9: Ms Macgregor introduced this group in her corrected inquiry evidence of Monday, 5 September 2016, page 28 when she stated: I was very pleased to discover initially that the arts in Western Sydney had come together. It can be rare in the arts that people come together and lobby for one cause rather than everybody asking for their own bit of the pie. So I met regularly with one group—the Western Sydney lobby group’. We assume she did indeed mean the Western Sydney Arts & Cultural Lobby (WSA&CL). From their submission to the first Inquiry: ‘Western Sydney Arts & Cultural Lobby includes: Artists, Arts Workers, Bankstown Arts Centre, Bankstown Youth Development Service, Blacktown Arts Centre, Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Cultural Arts Collective, Curiousworks, FORM Dance Projects, Information and Cultural Exchange, Parramatta Artists Studios, Parramatta Riverside Theatres, Peacock Gallery and Auburn Arts Studio, Penrith Performing & Visual Arts, Powerhouse Youth Theatre, Westwords, Writing & Society – UWS, University of Western Sydney and Urban Theatre ProjectsNot all views expressed may necessarily be those of all members of the lobby’ (our underlining). The WSA&CL is just one of the cultural groups existing at the time. Later endnotes describe its minor, and evanescent. place in the total of the groups involved in the ‘move’ controversy.
10: In their submission to the first Inquiry (#36, 12 August 2016) WSA&CL provided only support for the move of THE Powerhouse MUSEUM to Parramatta (they did not recommend it). Even this support was conditional: the State Government must ensure that the Powerhouse Museum is funded to a standard of its international peers and is of a higher standard than the facility at Ultimo. A key point, also consistently made, was that the commitments to the ‘move’ project must not involve the reduction of funding for the operations, artistic and capital programs of cultural organisations in Western Sydney. See point f on page 4/
11: The WSA&CL have no website and no ABN. The last time that they have appeared in the record is in their submission to the first Inquiry, 12 August 2016. We have telephoned all institutional members during 2018 and sought contact details, without success, and Ms Macgregor’s office also could not assist. Medianet, the publicity agency who distributed WSA&CL press releases, also could not assist. – this organisation also distributes press releases for UWS. A more complete description of the lack of activity from WSA&CL can be seen in the second Inquiry submission no 118, section 5, page 4, which also outlines the coincidence of their positive announcements with those of the Government.
12: Organisations not consulted include Lancer Barracks museum; Parramatta Girls Home; Fleet Street Heritage Precinct; HMAS Parramatta Memorial; Old Government House ; Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project; Philip Ruddock Heritage Centre; Elizabeth Farm ; Hambledon Cottage Museum; Old Government House; Brislington Medical and Nursing Museum; Margaret Whitlam Galleries; St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral; St John’s Anglican Cathedral; Parramatta Islamic Cultural Association; Marrin Weejali Aboriginal Corporation; Kimberwalli Aboriginal and Torres Strait centre at Whalan; Sydney Region Aboriginal Corporation; Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council; Australian Islamic Cultural Centre; Multicultural NSW Parramatta; The Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum; Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum; Parramatta Gaol; Penrith Museum of Printing; Museum of Fire; Nepean Naval Museum; The Arms of Australia Inn Museum; Wonderama Lab; Parramatta branch of the National Trust; Parramatta & District Historical Society; The King’s School Robert Robertson Museum; Liverpool Regional Museum and Family History Centre; Penrith Regional Gallery and Lewers Bequest; The Greater Western Sydney Heritage Action Group; and the North Parramatta Residents Action Group. All these come from the same area as the WSA&CL members.
13:  On 29 October 2014 Mr Borger was promoting the ‘move’ idea, almost a month before Mr Baird’s announcement:
Media monitor report: FM Radio: 2SER FM, Sydney, The Daily, Sean Britten, 29 Oct 2014 11;29 AM; Duration: 5 mins 22 secs:
Interview with David Borger, Western Sydney Director, Business Chamber about the plan to move the Powerhouse Museum. Britten says in what seems like an effort to enrich local culture in the western suburbs, Infrastructure NSW has made a proposal to move the Powerhouse Museum to the outer western suburbs. Borger says pretty much all of the great cultural institutions of NSW are located in the Sydney CBD. He believes 90% of all arts funding from NSW goes to one local Government area. He says apparently there is a willing partner in the University of Western Sydney to provide science and education to young kids in the region. He believes it is possible that visitor rates would rise if the Powerhouse Museum was relocated to Parramatta. He says the Powerhouse is not a museum that really relies on international tourists to get people through the door, far less than Sydney Opera House or Art Gallery of NSW. He believes it is important in Parramatta and Western Sydney to have a strong nighttime economy. He says they have some great facilities like the Parramatta Riverside Theatre and a new campus at the University of Western Sydney.
Mr Borger also briefed Professor Shine on December 5, 2014. As explained below, Professor Shine first heard about the ‘move’ by reading the press nine days before.
14: Mr Borger is the only person who gave evidence to the first Inquiry supporting the ‘move’ of the museum who was not a Government employee or appointee in some form or another. One wonders about his financial acumen: he seems impervious to reasoned argument that conclusively demonstrates the incredible waste involved if the ‘move’ process is carried out. We have asked for the reasons behind his support for the scheme over all possible alternatives with no response, and have invited him to discuss the matter directly with us, again with no response. His appointment as Trustee is therefore most galling.
15: Inquiry evidence 14 Nov 16 page 34: Professor Shine
16: Inquiry evidence, Monday, 28 May 2018, page 25, Mr Dyer
17: See Bulletin 60 of the email group,
18: Letter from Professor Glover to Minister for the Arts, 1 September 2016, first Inquiry document received 17/11/2016
19: Email to Professor Glover, 30 November 2020, with response referring me to INSW for a information.
20: First Inquiry transcript, Monday, 28 May 2018, page 35
21: (Mr Baird’s response to the Question on Notice received on 22 June 2018; Mr Baird had given his evidence, and been asked to take the question on notice. On 28 May, 25 days before, he had been asked to name even one museum / arts organisation favourable to the ‘move’, He was unable to do this, claiming that he did not have access to his detailed diary. He obviously made no effort to contact the Premier’s office to find appropriate information. This lack of action, at best, indicates contempt for the Inquiry process. We can find no relevant non-Government arts / museum organisation that recommends the ‘move’ and almost none that support it in any way.
22: Second Inquiry evidence, the Hon, Don Harwin, Wednesday, 29 July 2020, Page 3
23: notably page 10, ‘Options’
26: In their reports of consultations, the Government has never properly acknowledged the National Trust’s objections to the ‘move’, eg first Inquiry submissions No. 46 National Trust of Australia , second Inquiry submission No. 35 The National Trust of Australia (New South Wales), article in the NT NSW magazine of August-November 2017 and July-September 2020, special publications including initiative paper ; National Trust Register Listing Report for Powerhouse Museum 29 July 2015) at The National Trust (NSW) report The Powerhouse Museum: Your Say at (an independent survey by the National Trust that found strong support for its retention because of its heritage significance, with 1320 responses) and most recently provides the current view of the National Trust/.
27: A senior local member of the National Trust has provided this report of the interactions of Parramatta National Trust with this consultation process.
The Parramatta branch of the National Trust is listed on Page 7 of the consultation report as a Targeted Stakeholder. At no time did the Parramatta Branch receive any information about giving feedback. We heard from community members that they had info via a letterbox drop about an online survey and a Webinar planned for April 7 2020.
Webinar 1 – 7 April. I sent through an email request to be made part of the session. I did not hear back from them and subsequently called. When I mentioned I was representing the Parramatta Branch they said they already had a one-on-one session organised with the Trust’s Director of Conservation (head office) and they didn’t need any further input from the Branch.
Webinar 2 – 23 April: I registered for this webinar as just a community member and did not specify I was from the Parramatta Branch of the Trust. When I spoke at the webinar, in summary I made three points –
LEAVE THE POWERHOUSE IN ULTIMO – build Parramatta their own unique museum elsewhere in Parramatta
BAD SITE – flood prone
HERITAGE – do not destroy Willow Grove and St Georges Terrace – held in high esteem by the community.
Re Powerhouse Parramatta – Consultation Summary Report – May 2020 Revision 1 51, page 50: The consultation report listed inputs from the National Trust, Parramatta which are reproduced in italics. Our informant made the comments that are underlined, related to the Webinar of 23 April and any other interaction our informant was aware of.Comment regarding movement of items (fragile and large) between locations, how these would be treated and how much space would be dedicated to permanent displays. I made no mention of that.

  • Comment regarding the relevance of the kitchen garden and accommodation to the new Powerhouse museum. I made no mention of that.
  • The incorporation of the Parramatta River as an important cultural landscape into the design of the new Powerhouse.I made no mention of that.
  • Comment regarding flooding and how the museum would be accessed in the event of unprecedented flooding. Yes, I did talk about flooding and that the site was not suitable for the construction of a museum – didn’t mention anything about access. I spoke about there being better sites in Parramatta to build and the North Parramatta Female Factory Precinct site is not flood prone and the presence of a museum on this site would create a world class attraction.
  • The importance of heritage (Aboriginal, Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace) and how it will be recorded within the development of the museum. Yes, I did talk about the heritage on site and its need to be preserved – not interested in just recording it but to have the heritage retained
  • How will the permanent collection (including Bolton and Watt) be reflected in the new museum and the practicality of changing objects regularly. I made no mention of that.
  • Importance of understanding consumer demand and who is likely to visit the museum. I made no mention of that.
  • The reflection of local storytelling and how this would be incorporated into the exhibition developmentI did talk about the need for Parramatta to have its own Museum that told the story of Parramatta as a special place to the foundation of (New South Wales) Australia. Also mentioned that as far back as 1899 there are newspaper articles documenting Parramatta’s need for a heritage museum. I didn’t ask about Parramatta storytelling (but someone did) and Lisa Havilah (CEO) said they had Parramatta Eels memorabilia and (I think) an old sign from a car yard on Auto Alley. (I could have bitten my own hand off when she said that!)
  • Comment regarding the entries to the museum (sic) and if these could be made available to public. Don’t know what this means at all!(It is a point made by another questioner who was interested in seeing the other entries to the design competition – tl).
    I also asked why were they calling these sessions ‘early engagement’ when clearly they had already decided exactly what they would do without giving the community an opportunity for consultation over the last four years.

28: Prior to its dissolution in May 2016 the Parramatta Council had passed the following resolutions supporting the retention of the Riverside site s open space, seen as the culmination of the Civic Link: Resolution 16308 (Minutes, 14 December 2015); Resolution 16353 (Minutes, 14 January 2016), Resolution 16571, Minutes 11 April 2016 (p22); and at the very last meeting of the elected council The Lord Mayor ruled that a motion to suspend standing orders to consider the Powerhouse Museum and the Riverbank was one of urgency. It was resolved
(a) That Council write to the relevant Minister referencing the agreement, in principle, that the State Government would design the new Powerhouse Museum within the appropriate Council footprint to ensure that the Museum does not disadvantage Council in achieving its vision for the river and not disadvantage Council’s strategic asset on the site.
(b) Further, that a report be prepared outlining the discussions that have taken place to date. 
(Resolution 16646, Minutes, 9 May 2016 (p22).
29: At the Inquiry hearing of 29 August 2017 The Hon. Scott Farlow said (page 21) The council has been telling us that since 2014 (ie, stating that the previous council had supported the ‘move’)
We pointed out this clear error of fact in an email submission to the Inquiry on 12 September 2017 and its receipt and distribution was confirmed in a phone call. However the false information was then repeated by Government witnesses in the Inquiry evidence of Monday, 28 May 2018 [29]and remains a matter of public record. This is not only very frustrating for us, but is a clear breach of the standards expected in a democracy. It is clear from the records that the elected pre-administration Parramatta Council has never agreed to the use of the riverbank site for the museum, but wanted it retained as open space.
30: This was explained in inquiry evidence Monday, 15 February 2021 page 58 and confirmed by an email from Councillor Davis, of Parramatta Council, the following day.
North Parramatta Residents Action Group v Infrastructure NSW [2021] NSWLEC 60: Preamble: 1. ‘It is to be emphasised that this decision does not consider (and I am not legally permitted 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’.
32: eg Submission in support of claim for confidentiality and privilege by The Department of Premier and Cabinet, Infrastructure NSW and the Museum Of Applied Arts And Sciences order for papers — Powerhouse Museum — 10 June 2020
33: Testimony of Ms Neeson to Inquiry, Friday, 17 February 2017, page 2 ‘anyone working on this project is required to sign a pro forma declaration of compliance, which includes confidentiality. I have signed this declaration’.
34: Testimony of Mr Peter Root, logistician, to Inquiry, Friday, 17 February 2017, page 20, ‘I am informed that all of the reports prepared by us in relation to this matter are Cabinet in confidence. I have sought and received independent legal advice that such documents are to be considered a subject of public interest immunity and are therefore privileged’. This was referring to the input he had given to Johnstaff about the costs and difficulties of moving the exhibits which they took into account when preparing the business case.
35:  Requests for the rationale underlying the destruction of the display platform and the display cabinets on level 1 included emails to INSW, MAAS and the Government, and a registered letter received by MAAS on 22 March 2021,
36: Distinguished members of the arts/museum community took out full-page advertisements in major newspapers on 17 February 2016. The Save the Powerhouse Facebook site assisted the collection of a 20,000 signature petition and many other individual and group actions resulted in the establishment of the first Inquiry. The Powerhouse Museum Alliance has maintained a website recording all news and proceedings which is by far the most comprehensive coverage of the whole affair. It is interesting to note that the Government and related sites and instrumentalities have endeavoured to set up public relations websites and Facebook pages with nothing like the success of Save the Powerhouse and the PMA site, both of which are entirely staffed by unpaid people.
37: , is produced with unpaid workers and contributors, and was created on March 30, 2015. It is far more successful than attempts produced by paid Government workers that support the ‘move’.
38: Examples include , which outlines a survey run by the National Trust in June 2020 in which 1300 people responded and over 98% wanted the Powerhouse Museum to remain in Ultimo and to have it listed on the heritage register.
A major survey run as part of the second Inquiry attracted 301 responses, with 86% expressing opposition to the ‘move’ and the way it is being carried out. Only 7% supported the ‘move’. A feature of these last two surveys was full disclosure of questions, statistical data and consequent assessment of results. See the report at
The most outstanding examples of consultation have been the responses to the two Inquiries. In the first Inquiry, 133 submissions to the Upper House Inquiry opposed the Powerhouse move – representing 94% of all the submissions about the Powerhouse; these include the National Trust of NSW, Museums Australia, the International Council on Monuments and Sites and many other professional, artistic and historical groups. The position in the second Inquiry is similar, with new organisations coming to the support of the anti ‘move’ forces.
The latest major consultation concerned the Environmental Impact Statement for the ‘Powerhouse Parramatta’, determined on 11 February 2020. Of the 1,299 submissions received about the EIS on exhibition – an unprecedented total – there were a staggering 1,232 (95%) objections. Excluding the submissions that made comments only, less than 3% supported the project. (calculated from data available from ).
As demonstrated in the fact sheet paragraph 3, Government ‘consultation’ takes as its basis the assumption that their basic proposals are sacrosanct. The first indication of any attempt at consultation that we are aware of occurred on the evening of 14 November 2016 when a firm called Instinct And Reason, 420 Elizabeth Street Surry Hills, conducted a focus group research activity into the ‘move’ to Parramatta. The participants were told that the museum was moving to Parramatta and then asked what they would like to see at that site. This set the pattern for future so-called consultation that continues to this day.
A (minor) exception is the study made by the Parramatta Council under the unelected Administrator described printed in her response to Questions on notice following on from her appearance at the first Inquiry, 29 August 2017 . Here she provided a copy of an online survey which was conducted between 14 March and 10 April 2017.
At first, using a five-point Likert scale response, the question sequence was Please indicate below how important you believe culture is in the City of Parramatta; Overall, I’m supportive of the Cultural Plan Discussion Paper; How supportive are you of a cultural facility being located in Parramatta?; Overall, I’m supportive of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (i.e. Powerhouse museum) being in Parramatta (requiring an assessment on the Likert scale); How important is the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (i.e. Powerhouse museum) or equivalent cultural facility located in Parramatta to you? (Please indicate on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is not at all important and 10 is extremely important). The only option presented to achieve the laudable aim of enhancing the cultural facilities of Parramatta was the installation of the Powerhouse museum. The preceding questions set the respondent’s mindset towards favourable comment, and it is not surprising that 70% of the 528 respondents were in favour. Cf Yes Minister clip, .
The (then) Manager, City Activation Marketing and City Identity for Parramatta Council confirmed in an email of 1 November 2016 that the council had conducted no research into the population’s attitude to the ‘move’ occurred before that date ( )

39: The Government’s scanty (132-word) response to the Finding was issued on 17 July 2019, as follows:
Since February 2016, Infrastructure NSW has undertaken six independent reviews of the New Museum in Western Sydney project, conducted by more than 30 independent reviewers including specialists in design, planning and economics.
The Final Business Case for the project demonstrates the expertise, time, detail, rigor and due diligence underpinning the planning of this project. Highly qualified consultants in cultural infrastructure, museum logistics, urban planning, construction and operations contributed via peer review processes and governance panels. The document includes an economic appraisal for the project, produced in accordance with NSW Treasury’s Government Guide to Cost-Benefit Analysis.
The key parameters of the Economic Appraisal were endorsed by the Project Steering Committee which included a representative from NSW Treasury. The INSW Business Case summary indicated that it provided a sound basis for government decision making.
It is almost identical to statements made on page 7 of in the so-called Final Business Case Summary, issued by the Government fifteen months before:
(block underlining: exactly the same wording as the responseitalic underlining similar meaning, different words)

Since February 2016, no fewer than six external reviews have been undertaken as work on the New Museum has evolved. The Gateway process managed by Infrastructure NSW involved extensive independent review by multiple experts in cultural infrastructure, urban planning, economic analysis, construction and operation. In addition, as part of the Business Case’s development, CIPMO has sought advice from multiple experts in cultural infrastructure, museum logistics, urban planning, construction and operations through peer review processes and expert advisory panelsInfrastructure NSW’s review of the Business Case for the relocated Powerhouse Museum, completed in February 2018, concluded that the Business Case had successfully demonstrated the case for change.

The Final Business Case Summary was released on 4 April 2018. It was a response to constant requests from the public for information about the ‘move’ project. It was widely criticised for its inadequacy and was soon supplanted by the larger, but still inadequate, release of documentation that occurred the following month. There were still four more sitting days before the end of the Inquiry when this travesty of a Business Case summary was issued. Two of the six review report documents had yet to be completed, and none of them have ever been made public. The Final Report, as will be shown later, addressed none of the specific issues that had been raised during the Inquiry that indicated that the Government’s plans were flawed’
This inadequate ‘Business Case Summary’ document was still being quoted by the Government a year later still (Second Inquiry, testimony of Mr Draper, Wednesday, 29 July 2020, page 5; Mr Draper was asked for the cost of the project, and he referred us to this totally obsolete document!).
After the release of the report there was a debate in the Legislative Council in which the Government members simply took the same line as the response, without addressing any issues (Legislative Council Hansard, 8 August 2019).

40: See submission 118 to second Inquiry,
41: GIPA Request made 3 May 2020 with INSW response 2 June 2020.
42: IPC reference PC20/R0004191,
43: The reports were listed as follow: December 2016: MAAS review report,February 2017: MAAS New Museum in Parramatta review report, January 2018: New Museum in Parramatta report, March 2018: New Museum in Western Sydney report, April 2018: MAAS Ultimo report, November 2018: New Museum in Parramatta report.
44: The existence of the six independent reviews was made known in the so-called Business Case Summary issued on 2 July 2018, and it was claimed at that time that they demonstrated the expertise, time, detail, rigor and due diligence underpinning the planning of this project, yet the sixth report had not yet been issued. This was in effect a confirmation that no independent review or similar process had occurred prior to February 2016. (see page 9 and Appendix 2 page 16 paragraph 1 of second Inquiry submission 118a. After the Business Case Summary was issued, there were an additional three hearings: 12 September 2018– Sharp / Winkworth / Grant, Harwin / O’Mara /Limkin; 16 November 2018 – Glover / Elliott; 11 February 2019 – Macdonald / Witness B / Witness C. Thus the response to the Inquiry finding was clearly prepared before studying all the evidence. Further, there was no attempt to address any of the evidence-based criticisms of the Business Case process, notably Final Report sections 1.20, 1.25, 1,32, 1,33, 1.37, 1.40, 1.41, 1.54, 1.57. 1.59, 1.69, 1.70, 1.71, 1.73, 1.74, 1.75, 1.77 and the Committee comments 1.79 to 1.83. All of these supported the conclusion made in the Finding.
45: Response from Ombudsman, 28 August 2017, their reference C/2017/7577
46: eg Mr Draper, Inquiry evidence, Thursday, 8 October 2020, Page 6
47: The maximum value of the cleared site was estimated by a leading real estate expert, (January 16) at $250 million using comparison with other available sites; the Government value is similar, typically less. For example, the block of land bounded by Fig, Wattle and Jones Street owned by Sydney Council, is larger, a similar distance from the CBD, overlooks Wentworth Park and could be purchased and decontaminated for around $120 million at the time of Mr Baird’s announcement. (knowledge from a confidential source). The Government has since stated that the value of the Ultimo site is $190 million.
48: This figure, from Dr Lindsay Sharp, was outlined on 29 August 2017 by Mr Secord at the first Inquiry, p.4
49: The announcement that Willow Grove would be re-erected was made almost overnight by the Government and no mention of expert assessment of the cost of this project has ever been received.
50:,Sulman%20award%20for%20architectural%20merit. ‘The challenging design by NSW Government Architect J Thompson and Design Architect Lionel Glendenning for the design of the Powerhouse Museum converting the shell of an industrial building into one of the world’s most up-to-date museums was deservedly given the 1988 Sulman award for architectural merit’.
51: Copious studies exist regarding this matter: a typical example is Valuing the Priceless: The Value of Historic Heritage in Australia, Research Report 2 November 2005 Prepared for the Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand heritage/info/pubs/valuing-priceless.pdf
52: Assessment of Heritage Significance, Ultimo Tramways Power House, page 26 ( ).
53: When considered as a whole, the museum has massive support from many sources, a few of which are listed here.

Associations (a): traditional ‘affiliated societies’.
There are 43 societies that have been traditional supporters of the museum. The underlined societies have had involvement with the museum in the past eighteen months:
Antique Arms Collectors Society of Australia, Art Deco Society of NSW, The Asian Arts Society of Australia Inc, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (NSW Division), The Australian Ceramics Association, Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society (Ku-ring-gai) Inc, Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society (Sydney) Inc, Australian Association of Musical Instrument Makers (NSW Branch), Australian Flute Society Inc, Australian Lace Guild NSW Branch Inc, The Australian Numismatic Society, The Australiana Society Inc, The Aviation Historical Society of Australia (NSW) Inc, Ceramic Collectors Society, Ceramic Study Group Inc, The Colour Society of Australia (NSW) Inc, Design Institute of Australia, NSW Chapter, The Doll Collectors Club of NSW Inc, The Early Music Association of NSW Inc, The Embroiderers’ Guild NSW Inc, The Furniture History Society (Australasia) Inc, Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia NSW Inc, The Knitters’ Guild NSW Inc, The Metropolitan Coin Club of Sydney, National Space Society of Australia Ltd, Object – Australian Centre for Craft and Design, Oral History Association of Australia (NSW), Oriental Rug Society of NSW Inc, Philatelic Association of NSW Inc, The Phonograph Society of NSW Inc, Pyrmont Ultimo Historical Society, The Quilters’ Guild Inc, Royal Aeronautical SocietyAustralian DivisionSydney Branch Inc, Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, NSW Chapter, Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (NSW Chapter), The Silver Society of Australia IncSydney City Skywatchers IncSydney Space AssociationThe Twentieth Century Heritage Society of NSW Inc, Walter Burley Griffin Society Inc, Watch and Clockmakers of Australia (NSW Branch), The Wedgwood Society of NSW Inc, Woodworkers’ Association of NSW Inc,

Associations (b): Life fellows of the museum
Ken Done AM, Gerry Gleeson AC, Lionel Glendenning, Linda Jackson, Prof Ron Johnston, Jenny Kee, Trevor Kennedy AM, Alan Landis, Terence Measham AMJanet McDonald AO, Fred Millar AO, CBE, Dr Nicholas Pappas AMAnne Schofield AMLeo Schofield AMDr Lindsay Sharp, Richard (Dick) Smith AO, Hon James Spigelman AC, QC, Kylie Winkworth, Dr John Yu AC. The underlined people are actively engaged in resisting the destruction of the museum and none of the others are in favour of the ‘move’ idea as proposed.
There are also about 50 life members of which at least 12 are actively resisting the ‘move’ idea and 14 honorary associates of whom at least 6 are actively resisting the ‘move’ idea. Not one of the people listed have supported the ‘move’ in its present form.

Associations (c): Organisations making submissions to Inquiries
The following organisations were so supportive of the museum that they made strong submissions to the Inquiry requiring retention of the museum at its present site:
First Inquiry: Australia International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials, Australian Society for History of Engineering and Technology Inc. (ASHET), Ceramic Society of Australia, Engineers Australia, Engineers Australia NSW Division – Engineering Heritage Sydney, Greater Western Sydney Heritage Action Group, Harden-Murrumburrah Historical Society, Historic Houses Association of Australia, Jacksons Landing Community Association, Orange and District Historical Society, National Association for the Visual Arts (*NAVA), National Trust of Australia, North Parramatta Residents Action Group Inc., International Council for Museums; Australia, Powerhouse Museum Alliance, Public Service Association, Pyrmont History Group, Save the Powerhouse Campaign, The Design Institute of Australia (DIA).
Second Inquiry: Additional organisations included No. 10 Pyrmont Action Incorporated, No. 27 Local Government NSW, No. 2 Decorative Arts Society, No. 58 Inner Sydney Greens. No. 77 Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM), No. 144 Sydney Tramway Museum. No. 146 Community Action for Windsor Bridge. No. 141 Newcomen, The International Society for the History of Engineering and Technology. This list excludes organisations that made submissions that only supported the retention of Willow Grove.

And even more associations …
20,000 signatories to the petition presented to NSW Parliament, 25 Feb 2016
178 signatories to the Powerhouse Museum Alliance ’s 17 Feb 2016 open letter
Authors of the 133 submissions to the Upper House Inquiry who oppose the Powerhouse move – representing 94% of all the submissions about the Powerhouse; these include the National Trust of NSW, Museums Australia, the International Council on Monuments and Sites and many other professional, artistic and historical groups
Some 100+ volunteers who regularly work at the museum, many of whom travel long distances for this purpose: ‘local’ volunteers are a small minority
Countless museum visitors and supporters from across NSW, around Australia and overseas
And members of many organisations including
– The Save the Powerhouse Facebook group
– The Powerhouse Museum Alliance
–  North Parramatta Residents Action Group

As a matter of interest, at least 15 of the strong supporters of the protest movement have CVs equivalent to, or far more impressive and relevant, than Mr Lonergan, the author of the ‘independent’ appraisal of the Heritage Application.
It would be very difficult to name a similar institution that had more associations with identifiable groups!