Gladys Berejiklian has backflipped on an election promise to move the Powerhouse Museum, instead bowing to inner city pressure to fund two museums.
Gladys Berejiklian has backflipped on an election promise to move the Powerhouse Museum, instead bowing to inner city pressure to fund two museums.

Premier backflips over Powerhouse move

Gladys Berejiklian has backflipped on an election promise to move the Powerhouse Museum from the CBD to Western Sydney, instead bowing to inner city pressure to fund two museums.

The government will keep the Powerhouse's Ultimo site in the city open, but is insisting it will still continue with an outpost plan in Parramatta.

The Government had originally budgeted to save $195 million from its plan to sell Ultimo, but has faced unrelenting pressure from activist groups to leave the museum in place.

 

Sydney's Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo. Picture: Jeremy Piper
Sydney's Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo. Picture: Jeremy Piper

The backflip comes after the state government has relentlessly tried to build the case for abandoning the Ultimo location, for several years pointing to a report it would cost $500 million to bring the site up to scratch and privately citing woeful visitor data.

The government was not able to provide the cost impact of today's announcement.

In 2018 it said the Powerhouse Paramatta plan - which includes a new state of the art building on flood-risked land - would cost $645 million, but other estimates have placed this cost higher.

Today's announcement comes less than a month after Ms Berejiklian dumped her promise to upgrade ANZ stadium and at the time pledged to stick with the plan to move the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta.

Ms Berejiklian said her new decision, hastily revealed to newspapers late Friday afternoon, would ensure Sydney had two world class facilities.

"Sydney is a global city of more than five million people and this will allow us to provide an outstanding visitor experience in the areas of technology, science, engineering and design at two major locations," Ms Berejiklian said.

 

People gather at the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo to protest. Picture: Toby Zerna
People gather at the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo to protest. Picture: Toby Zerna

"It will mean far more people have access to many more of the amazing exhibits held by the Powerhouse and importantly, help us create vibrant centres to inspire learning in the fields of sciences and applied arts for the next generation."

The new museum at Parramatta will create more than 1100 construction jobs, up to 2400 indirect jobs, and hundreds more once opened, the government said.

In a statement, the government said it would explore if some of the funds earmarked for relocation costs could be used on renovations.

The Premier said the Government would not waver in its commitment to deliver a world-class facility at Parramatta.

"The new museum at Parramatta will give us the opportunity to create something special that benefits millions of people for years to come," Ms Berejiklian said.

"At the same time Ultimo will evolve and grow alongside the newly announced Tech Central the revamped Sydney Fish Market, and rejuvenated Darling Harbour precincts."

The decision was made after the government this week faced threats from the CFMEU who pledged to put a ban on the demolition of key historical in Paramatta - Willow Grove and St George's Terrace.

However a spokesman last night could not say what the changes meant for these buildings.

Originally published as Premier backflips over Powerhouse move


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