BY KENJI SATO
Community group Friends of Ultimo and Balmain Greens MP Jamie Parker collected the final signatures for the ‘Save the Powerhouse Museum’ petition last Saturday, October 17.
Last week, City Hub reported that the petition had collected the 10,000 signatures required to force a debate on the issue in NSW state parliament.
However, a tally of the signatures by the office of Indepedent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich found that the petition was 600 signatures short of 10,000 required.
Friends of Ultimo members led a “final charge” outside the museum to collect the last few hundred signatures on Saturday.
The NSW Government announced plans last year to sell off the museum’s land and move the museum to western Sydney.
But the proposal has long been opposed by the local community, who have said the museum was vital for the local residents as well as complimentary to the local start-up industry in Ultimo.
Co-founder of Friends of Ultimo, Patricia Johnson, told City Hub on Saturday that she wanted to preserve the heritage and historical significance of the museum.
“We think the Ultimo Powerhouse must remain in Ultimo where it belongs,” she said. “We’re very grateful to all the community members who helped us to reach 10,000 signatures.”
Ms Johnson said she was not opposed to having another museum built in Parramatta, but said that it should not be at the expense of families from the inner city.
“We have a lot in common with the people of Parramatta. They too do not want something passed onto them that fits beautifully and traditionally in Ultimo, if it would have very little relevance there,” she said.
“Parramatta wants their own museum and cultural facilities, and they should be consulted about how they’re built.”
MP Jamie Parker told City Hub that he was impressed by the level of local community support.
“There are not many issues around Sydney that generate this much public support. Reaching 10,000 signatures on the ‘Save the Powerhouse Museum’ petition demonstrates the depth and breadth of opposition to the Liberal government’s privatisation agenda,” he said.
“Moving the museum is more about a cash grab than culture. The winners will be big developers. The people of Parramatta will be short-changed with an inferior museum rather than a new iconic arts centre that represents the significance of western Sydney.”
Adam Taylor, Outreach Coordinator for Mr Parker, said that the museum was important for the children of Sydney.
“Students come here and walk away with something that is enjoyable and educational. The building is heritage listed and it adds such a unique character to the city. It’d be a real shame to see it changed or moved,” he said.
“Not only do you lose the cultural centre and hub of the community, it also changes the flow of the community and the way that people come and go and the purpose of the community.”
Jamie Parker will table the petition later this week.
Correction: Last week City Hub referred to Mary Mortimer as the convenor of Friends of Ultimo. This is incorrect. Mary Mortimer is the convener of the Ultimo Pyrmont Education Campaign Committee, and unaffiliated with Friends of Ultimo. Friends of Ultimo was co-founded by Patricia Johnson and Jean Pierre.