Power to the people

THE old East Perth power station should become an Aboriginal cultural centre and not a Fritz Lang tribute to WA’s mining industry, Perth councillor Reece Harley says.

Last week former state architect Steve Woodland unveiled plans for a $100 million interactive mining museum at the old power station, situated on the banks of the Swan River.

The state government said it would support the museum if the mining industry pay for it.

But Cr Harely says the proposed museum would cut into Kalgoorlie’s tourism sector, driven by mining, and that Aboriginal cultural tourism in Perth was “under-serviced”.

“If you look at the cultural landscape in the city, there aren’t that many opportunities for international, interstate tourists as well as local people to engage with Aboriginal tourism in the city,” he says.

“We’re coming up now to our bicentenary, 2029.

“It’s only 12 years away now.

“What an incredible gift to the people of Western Australia and the world it would be to officially launch the Aboriginal culture and history centre for our bicentenary.”

• Reece Harley wants an Aboriginal cultural centre at the old East Perth power station to boost employment and tourism. Photo by Steve
Grant

Responsibility

Mr Harley says the Aboriginal museum could be jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and the resource sector.

“It would need to be connected by high speed ferry to the city to make it more accessible”, similar to the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart.

“I think you’d find a lot of companies would really be jumping all over it, to help fund an opportunity like this, as part of their corporate-social responsibility.”

Mr Harley says that during the planning for Elizabeth Quay an Aboriginal cultural centre was discussed, but never realised, so this could be an alternative for the state government to pursue.

He added that the centre could provide jobs and opportunities for Aboriginal artists and workers.

WA Aboriginal affairs minister Ben Wyatt says he believes “an Aboriginal cultural centre would be a tremendous addition to our city” but says the state’s “dire” finances would stop it from committing to any funding.

He would of course however, “welcome any investment from the private sector”.

The South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council say they welcome councillor Harley’s interest in a cultural centre, and while the site does hold historical significance, they don’t want to commit to a specific location yet.

by EMILEE NEESON

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