Sell-offs continue in Sydney CBD

Plans by the NSW Liberal government to sell off prime real estate on the current site of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney’s CBD have aroused widespread anger.

NSW premier Mike Baird has pledged $10 million to relocate the museum to Parramatta, despite the fact that no new site for the museum has been set aside. The sale is expected to generate $200 million for the government.

Developers are salivating: John Zheng from LJ Hooker told Fairfax that “the highest and best value for it will be apartment blocks”.

It’s the latest in a spate of public land sell-offs in the Sydney CBD and surrounding areas, including the 22 hectares of public land given to developers of Barangaroo and the dozens of occupied public houses being sold off at Millers Point.

The independent state member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, said: “From Millers Point housing to sandstone heritage government office buildings, one by one the government is relocating inner city functions and services and selling assets for redevelopment without needed open space and community facilities.”

Labor candidate for Balmain Verity Firth said the Liberal government’s announcement that it will sell the site in Ultimo and move the Powerhouse Museum to Sydney’s west just added to the list of valuable assets being sold off.

“Mike Baird is blackmailing the people of western Sydney: if you want arts and culture in western Sydney, you need to vote for my privatisation agenda.”

Community groups say the plans are part of an out-of-control privatisation agenda being pursued across the state. The convener of Pyrmont Action, Elizabeth Elenius, told AltMedia: “To sell the site for private development would be a betrayal of the public interest and, once again, demonstrates that the government treats our heritage and community with disdain when the mighty developer dollar beckons.”