Labor demands Berejiklian respect state heritage: rule out sale of Sydney's last iconic sandstone building

In Parliament | 20.04.18

After today’s confirmation the Industrial Relations Commission will be moved from the Sydney CBD to Parramatta, the NSW Labor Opposition has demanded the Berejiklian Government rule out selling the last remaining historic sandstone building in Sydney’s CBD – the Chief Secretary’s Building at the junction of Macquarie, Bridge, and Phillip Streets in Sydney.

Two days on from celebrating World Heritage Day, the Berjeiklian Government refuses to confirm its plans for the historically significant, State Heritage-listed building, with all signs pointing to preparations for sale – in direct contravention of an earlier undertaking given by the NSW Government.

The Chief Secretary’s building is a national treasure, representing a time of nation-building and the formation of our enduring public institutions, as well as architectural importance. It was home to the office of the great Sir Henry Parkes, the “father of Federation” and a giant in NSW and Australian history.

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 now sold more than $9 billion worth of public property, with reckless disregard for the cultural heritage of NSW.

In a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of the Heritage Act last year, NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley committed to preserving this historic building and moving the Premier’s Office and the Cabinet Room to the Chief Secretary’s Building if elected in 2019.

The sale would take a knife to the heart of the story of Australia’s historical colonial democracy, which successfully led to the formation of the nation’s proud and robust system of government. It would be a killer blow to the public’s confidence in this government’s role as custodian of civic pride and the public good. 

Quotes attributable to Shadow Heritage Minister Penny Sharpe

“The Chief Secretary’s building is Sydney’s last great sandstone building remaining in public hands – we cannot allow it to go the way of our other great buildings and simply be flogged off by the mercenary Berejiklian Government. 

“The Premier must rule out any sale or long term commercial lease of this iconic site immediately. 

“To the community’s disgust, all this greedy government sees is the profit to be made from the sale and not the history and heritage that it represents – this building represents the heart of our colonial democracy. 

“If we value our heritage we must preserve it, restore it, and make this building an outstanding and proud statement of our society. That is Labor’s commitment.”