Powerhouse planning bill hits $18m as new design to be unveiled

Powerhouse planning bill hits $18m as new design to be unveiled

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The government hopes the museum design will capture the public imagination, with shortlisted architects briefed to provide ambitious concepts that included options for retention or exclusion of the heritage buildings, a museum unencumbered by multi-storey commercial towers, a minimum exhibition space of 15,000 square metres and opportunities to revitalise the riverside for public enjoyment.

Member for Parramatta, Geoff Lee, takes a selfie with Premier Gladys Berejiklian after confirming the museum’s new Parramatta home.
Credit:Cole Bennetts

But protesters have vowed to continue to draw attention to the spending at a time of drought and bushfire crisis and tiny funding allocations to the NSW’s 300 volunteer museums.

“They’re splurging $1.5 billion to shrink the Powerhouse Museum and move it 23 kilometres west to a flood-prone riverbank, building a smaller, less accessible museum with demonstrably inferior facilities to what the Powerhouse already owns at Ultimo,” museum and heritage consultant Kylie Winkworth said. ”So let’s talk cultural equity, Premier, what about the bush, what about helping regional communities in the drought?”

The government has put the “net cost” of the museum move at $645 million, once revenue sources are taken into account, but, according to the first business case summary, the costs of land purchase and moving operations, including wages, is estimated to be $1.179 billion.

Labor’s Walt Secord said two galleries in regional NSW could have been built for consultants’ fees alone, which he estimated to be almost $36 million.

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“In these tough and uncertain economic times with increasing unemployment, the drought, stagnant wages and a retail slump, we cannot afford more infrastructure cost-blow outs like the Powerhouse Museum move,” Mr Secord said.

Create NSW disputed these figures, saying half of that had been spent to date.

“The NSW Government has spent $18 million on the museum’s relocation to Parramatta, including the $10 million allocated for the project over two years (2015-16 and 2016-17) and $8 million to June 30, 2019. Cumulatively this spend has covered costs associated with the Parramatta Business Case, the running of the International Design Competition and relocation logistics.”

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