The NSW opposition has unveiled plans to build a $500 million cultural institution in Sydney’s west and scrap the government’s billion-dollar move of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta.
In announcing his party’s arts policy on Sunday, Labor leader Michael Daley said they would instead upgrade the current museum in inner-city Ultimo for $50 million and redirect savings to rural and regional areas.
The pre-election promises include the continued redevelopment of Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre, a $40 million Regional Conservatorium of Music and the doubling of the Regional Cultural Fund to $200 million.
“A Daley Labor government will support a thriving and vibrant cultural scene throughout NSW – ensuring art and culture do not become an exclusive privilege for Sydney’s elite,” the policy document states.
But the jewel in the crown of suggestions is a $500 million “world-class cultural institution” to be built in Parramatta, with the hope it would be “of equal stature to the Sydney Opera House and the Art Gallery of NSW”.
Mr Daley said, if elected, Labor will end years of arts “neglect” in the city’s west which has involved a concentration of funds within three kilometres of Sydney’s CBD.
He said funding would come from the $650 million already budgeted for the museum’s relocation.
The NSW government in 2015 announced the industrial science museum and its collections would be moved to the west at a cost now projected to exceed $1 billion overall.
When asked about Labor’s alternative plan on Sunday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she hasn’t heard the opposition “say anything constructive” about current projects and considered their institution idea “second-rate”.
“We’ve already signed heads of agreement with our various stakeholders, we’ve already done the work,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
“This isn’t the first time the Labor Party is cancelling a project that is already way down the track.”
The NSW election is on March 23.