Australia

Powerhouse to live on at Ultimo site

The Berejiklian Government says its U-turn on a five-year-old plan to move the Powerhouse Museum from the CBD to Western Sydney was motivated by the need to create jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.Speaking from the Ultimo site on Saturday, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet confirmed the existing museum in Ultimo would remain alongside the new facility…

The Berejiklian Government says its U-turn on a five-year-old plan to move the Powerhouse Museum from the CBD to Western Sydney was motivated by the need to create jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking from the Ultimo site on Saturday, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet confirmed the existing museum in Ultimo would remain alongside the new facility in Parramatta.

Mr Perrottet said the decision was made to ensure Sydney had access to two world-class facilities, providing the arts, tourism and employment sectors with a much-needed boost after the economic impact of COVID-19.

While the historic Ultimo site lives on, the government is still forging ahead with the new build in Parramatta.

Mr Perrottet said the government had budgeted to save $195 million from its plan to sell the inner city site, but was willing to forgo that amount to preserve it.

The cost of the Parramatta build is set at $645 million and the State Government is exploring whether some of the funds earmarked for relocation costs could be used on renovations.

“We will forgo $195 million from the redevelopment of this site, taking the total cost of this project to $840 million,” the Treasurer said.

“Ultimately this is a win-win. A win for the people of Western Sydney and a win for the people of central Sydney.”



The State Government has faced unrelenting pressure from activist groups to save the Ultimo museum, but neither Mr Perrottet nor Arts Minister Don Harwin would touch on whether public uproar helped prompt the decision.

Instead Mr Perrottet argued the call was made in response to the coronavirus crisis and the imminent need to inject more jobs into the economy.

“We want to keep as many people in work as possible … If our projects have a greater social outcome at the end, that’s what is most important,” he said.

“There’s no time for pre-pandemic thinking in a post pandemic world.”

Mr Harwin added they came to this decision after reflecting on what would be the best use of the space and it “made sense” to leave it as is.

“I really admire the people who have put a lot of time in this museum over the years,” he told reporters.

The retention of the Powerhouse at Ultimo will ensure workers keep their jobs while the Parramatta build will create about 1100 construction jobs and up to 2400 indirect jobs once open.

The Treasurer said it was the right decision for the economy and people of NSW.



The move is part of the State Government’s $100 billion infrastructure pipeline, which Mr Perrottet said was more important now than ever given the economic burdens the state was carrying.

As a result of the decision, the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences (MAAS) will soon have four centres within its portfolio, including the jewel-in-the-crown Powerhouse at Parramatta, Ultimo Museum, Sydney Observatory and the Museums Discovery Centre at Castle Hill.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Ultimo area would continue to evolve with the arrival of Tech Central and the revamped Sydney Markets.

The announcement comes weeks after the Premier dumped plans to upgrade ANZ Stadium.

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