Female Factory: history and opportunity

In Parliament | 12.10.15

Speech to the Fleet Street Heritage Precinct Symposium


Thanks to the North Parramatta Action Group and the Parramatta Female Factory Friends for putting on today’s event.

Of the 9000 women who were transported to Australia as convicts it is estimated that 5000 passed through the Female Factory. By some counts one in five Australian women are descendents of the women who passed through the Female Factory.

These 39 hectares tell the stories of colonisation, or migration, of crime and punishment, of treatment of the mental illness and of how the early years of a new colony shaped the people we are as Australians.

These 39 hectares are precious. Yes it is about this local community but this site should be world heritage listed. A site of this significance demands a world class response.

World Heritage listing for this site is a must and anyone who has looked at the history of these buildings could not fail to see the merits of such a listing.

As our current Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes once said:

“Our heritage consists of the things we choose to keep; the things we want others to inherit. Protecting our State’s heritage is all about remembering what is important in our surroundings and preserving these things for future generations to enjoy.”

When we consider planning of this precinct we should put heritage first.

There is a once in a generation opportunity to make something very special for Parramatta and for the rest of Australia.

The heritage considerations should be at the centre of this precinct.

The Baird government is taking the lazy road based on an old formula.

There is no need to rush. We can take time to recast this site and to get it right.

Not just heritage for heritage sake but an opportunity to design a precinct that can become a centre for tourism in Sydney.

Labor sees this precinct becoming a must visit for every tourist.

A must visit for every Australian school student as they learn, understand and experience the stories of our nation.

This precinct can build on the strengths of the revitalisation of Paramatta as an economic powerhouse, a creative arts and cultural hub, a connected an innovative CBD for our global city.

A place for collaboration.

We have a major health precinct right here, a university and the potential for a concentration of jobs that are part of the future on a site that treasures and showcases our past.

We should be talking about how this site could be using its health traditions to incubate and support the high tech health jobs, research and health delivery of the future.

Any plan should also include affordable housing, community facilities and creative spaces.

It must be linked by public transport. Light rail obviously has a role to play here.

Sydney is going to grow by 1.5million in the next 15 years. 100,000 people every year.

This population growth is a challenge, but Labor also sees it as a great opportunity to shape Sydney – all of Sydney – for every one of our communities.

This site is a test of how we can do things differently – must do things differently if we are to make Sydney the best city in the world to live, love, work and play.

A world class result not a compromise of mediocrity.

Thanks to everyone who put on todays event.

Thanks you to all who refuse to take no for an answer and who continue to argue for a forward thinking, bold and exciting plan for this precinct.

I will continue to ask the Minister to reflect upon his fine words in relation to heritage and to think about this very special place.

Labor will continue to demand that the Government aim higher and think more creatively to build a truly visionary place here in Parramatta.

We will work with the community to deliver a world class outcome for a world class site.


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