• An illustration of the Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta, Sydney. (NSW Government)Source: NSW Government
There’s a ‘dire need’ to create jobs for Aboriginal people in western Sydney but moving the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta is unlikely to fill that gap, says NSW Aboriginal Tour Operators Council’s Margaret Campbell.
AAP, The Point
11 Apr 2016 - 9:11 PM  UPDATED 11 Apr 2016 - 7:51 PM

The Powerhouse Museum’s history of employing Indigenous people indicates it may not provide much employment to them if the museum moves to Sydney's west, Margaret Campbell told The Point.

That's despite a potential Aboriginal exhibit and given the move to Parramatta is expected to create an estimated 3,000 jobs after construction finishes in 2022.

“I’m not optimistic about the fact it’s going to have Aboriginal people controlling and managing whatever it is they’re going to be doing regarding Aboriginal and cultural exhibits within the Powerhouse Museum," she says of the Powerhouse Museum’s current Indigenous-specific employment.

The museum’s last Indigenous full-time employee was Professor James Wilson-Miller who retired 2.5 years ago, she says.

“I can’t see how they’ve got employment and engagement processing. There’s no model for them to undertake.

There are about 32,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in western Sydney, or 1.7 per cent of the population, according to 2011 data. 

In comparison, English comprise 22 per cent, Chinese 6.6 per cent, Irish 6.2 per cent, Lebanese 4.8 per cent.

Premier Mike Baird says he makes no apologies for relocating one of Sydney's biggest cultural institutions to the city's west in the former David Jones car park on the banks of the Parramatta River.

Mr Baird defended the relocation, arguing that previous state governments had neglected western Sydney as a cultural hub.

"It's about time that western Sydney had one of the great cultural institutions right here in its heart," he told reporters at the proposed site.

Mr Baird said he was confident international tourists would be willing to make the journey out west.

"I think it will become second nature. Everyone will want to come to this museum (and) they will visit Parramatta as part of it, which is great for the local economy," he said.

Plans for the Ultimo site still need to be determined but it's expected the government will sell the valuable inner-city land, which originally housed a power station dedicated to Sydney's electric trams.

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley urged the government not to sell the site to property developers.

"My challenge to the government is, if you're shifting the Powerhouse keep the land you own in Ultimo and deliver a new school to the people of the inner city," he said on Monday.

Mr Baird would not guarantee whether the land would be sold to developers but said he expected it to be a "multi-use" site in the future.

"It's not just an opportunity to make a dollar, it's an opportunity to create something great there and that's generally the intent of government," Mr Baird said.

The new museum - which is expected to be renamed - will showcase 40 per cent more of the Powerhouse's exhibits.

Construction is due to start in 2018. 

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