Today the Legislative Council of the NSW Parliament voted to establish an inquiry into the State’s museums and galleries. Critically, the committee will specifically inquire into the controversial move to relocate the Powerhouse Museum.
Jamie Parker, Greens MP for Balmain, welcomed the decision to hold an inquiry. “This parliamentary inquiry is a major breakthrough as it will lift the veil of secrecy over the government’s flawed decision making regarding the sale of the Powerhouse Museum,” he said.
“The government can no longer hide behind a wall of bureaucracy.”
“Selling off this purpose-built and recently refurbished building in Ultimo represents an appalling waste of public money. It’s a decision that has been taken without expert input, community consultation or any comprehensive cultural strategy.”
“The proposed sale is simply a real estate deal that will only deliver an underfunded and inferior version of the current Powerhouse. We know there will be a shortfall of several hundred million dollars after the Powerhouse is sold.”
“Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws have revealed a catalogue of confusion, secrecy and contradiction in relation to the future location, continuity and purpose of the Powerhouse Museum.”
“This inquiry will also provide the opportunity to develop leading policies to support museums and galleries and ensure we have world class, properly funded cultural institutions that benefit all the people of NSW.”
“I call on the arts community to make submissions to this inquiry.”
David Shoebridge MP added, “It was my pleasure to work with my colleague Jamie Parker, who recognises how important this issue is to his local electorate, to ensure we had the numbers in the Upper House to establish this inquiry.”
The full terms of reference for the committee will be:
1. That General Purpose Standing Committee No. 4 inquire into and report on the performance or effectiveness of the NSW Government agencies responsible for the organisation, structure and funding of museums and galleries in NSW, and in particular:
a) NSW government policy, funding and support for museums and galleries, museum and gallery buildings and heritage collections, including volunteer managed museums and museums managed by councils.
b) Potential funding impacts on museums and galleries affected by council amalgamations
c) Opportunities to revitalise the structure, reach, and impact of museums and galleries, and their research and collecting priorities.
d) Access to the collections of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the Australian Museum and any other state collections held in trust for the people of NSW, and programs that promote physical and online access.
e) The cost benefits of the sale of the Powerhouse Museum site in Ultimo and its proposed move to Parramatta, and whether there are alternative strategies to support museum development.
f) The development and transparency of advice to the government on priorities for NSW museums and galleries.
g) The impact of the efficiency dividend on the budgets of museums and galleries over the last 10 years, and funding levels compared to other states.
h) The economic impact of museums and galleries on cultural tourism, and their role in supporting the visitor economy in Sydney and regional NSW
i) Any other related matters.
2. That the committee report by 24 November 2016.