Berejiklian Government must rule out selling last historic sandstone building in Sydney CBD

In Parliament | 02.02.18

The NSW Labor Opposition is demanding the Berejiklian Government rule out selling the last remaining historic sandstone building in Sydney’s CBD, the Chief Secretary’s Building at 47 Bridge Street Sydney.

The building currently houses the Industrial Relations Commission (“the IRC”) who have been told that they are being moved out.

It was revealed in court yesterday that the State Government was going behind the community’s back and preparing the former Chief Secretary’s Building at 47 Bridge St, Sydney for sale - in direct contravention of an earlier undertaking given by the NSW Government.

The move has been put on ice as a result of the dispute hearing, which will continue today in the IRC.

Since it has come to office the Liberal National Government has flogged off two other great sandstone public buildings on Bridge Street – the Department of Education and the Department of Lands buildings, as well as the famous Sirius building and heritage properties in The Rocks.

The Liberal National Government has sold more than $9 billion worth of property.

NSW Labor has committed to preserve this historic building and move the Premier’s Office and the Cabinet Room to the Chief Secretary’s Building if elected in 2019.

NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley made the commitment last year in a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of the Heritage Act.

The sale would also have important ramifications for the working people as it is the home of the Industrial Relations Commission, which would be forced to move elsewhere, making it more difficult for the people and organisations that rely on its services to access it. 

Quotes attributable to Shadow Heritage Minister Penny Sharpe

“ Sydney’s last great sandstone building cannot go the way of our other great buildings - it can’t be flogged off by the Berejiklian Government.

“ The Premier must rule out any sale or long term commercial lease immediately.

“All this Government sees is the dollars and cents to be made from the sale and not the history and heritage that it represents - it is at the heart of our colonial democracy.

“If we value heritage we can preserve, restore and make a building an outstanding success and that is Labor’s commitment.” 

Labor Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Adam Searle said:

“Since coming to office, the Liberal National Government has continuously attacked the independent umpire that has protected working people’s pay and conditions in NSW for over a century.  

“It has stripped it of many of its powers including over work place safety, abolished the Industrial Court and removed all the judges from this important institution. In addition it has closed the IRC’s office in the Illawarra and will close its Newcastle office in October.  

“Government representatives say they want the move done in 14 weeks but claim no new premises have been chosen. There is no information about where the new premises will be located, whether it will be accessible by public transport, and whether it is fit for purpose. 

“Proposing such a major change without consulting the affected workforce is a disturbing breach of the NSW Government’s obligations to its workforce.”