‘It’s just ridiculous’: Key unions demand premier scrap $500m Powerhouse redevelopment

I heartily agree. I can see no point in destroying useful buildings.  But governments tend to have an edifuce complex.  Politicians want their name on a foundation stone

Two of the state’s most powerful unions have called for a halt to the proposed $500 million redevelopment of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, and the reinvestment of the savings to top up pay rises for frontline health and emergency sector workers.

The Public Service Association, representing 40,000 public sector workers, says it will press for Premier Chris Minns to personally intervene to shelve plans the Labor government inherited for the knockdown rebuild of the museum’s 35-year-old modern wing.

The Public Service Association’s general secretary Stewart Little said his members, including more than 100 permanent museum staff, believed the project was an extravagance the state could ill afford at a time of crippling cost of living increases.

He was joined in his criticisms by Health Services Union boss Gerard Hayes who said spending to redevelop and reconfigure the museum’s inner-city location made as much sense as knocking down and rebuilding the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“As a health service person, we are in very difficult economic times. Why would we be dealing with luxury wish lists when we are not dealing with providing the necessities?” Hayes asked.

Union criticism of the project comes at a sensitive time of wage negotiations with the Minns government which went to the election promising to scrap the cap on public sector wages.

Unions are agitating for an improvement in the government’s standing offer of a 4.5 per cent wage increase and have identified the Powerhouse redevelopment as a potential source of budget savings to fund a more generous wage offer – all at a time when treasurer Daniel Mookhey says the NSW budget is facing $7 billion in unexpected cost pressures.

At the March election, Labor pledged to “save” the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo as a “world-class institution” and is currently undertaking broad community consultation about the museum’s future.

These reorient the museum’s entrance and demolish the museum’s galleria, home of NSW’s first train, Locomotive No 1 and the priceless Boulton & Watt rotative steam engine, and the Wran wing along Harris Street.



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