Poor site selection could doom the proposed Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Aug 18, 2022 | Neil Thomson MLC, State News

The State Government recently admitted in Parliament that the new Aboriginal Cultural Centre had been announced without any involvement of the Western Australian Planning Commission or any of its subcommittees, including the once powerful Capital City Planning Committee.

“World class cities are not just random decisions, they are formed through a precinct lens that looks at how people will interact with various facilities and attractions to maximise the viability,” said Shadow Minister for Planning, the Hon Neil Thomson MLC.

“For more than a decade the city has been reorienting itself to link Northbridge with the Swan River, with significant investment in the sinking of the rail lines and constructing pedestrian access from the CBD to Northbridge through Yagan Square.

“The construction of Elizabeth Quay was also critical to support the reorientation, with its handy access to river ferries and other public transport.”

Mr Thomson continued, “The Perth cultural centre has had many millions invested, including the new museum and Art Gallery upgrades, in an effort to concentrate foot traffic to improve the success of all attractions.

“The proposed site for the multi-million-dollar Aboriginal Cultural Centre is a 20-minute walk from the Perth Cultural Centre and could sit isolated behind the Supreme Court Gardens.

“Even Elizabeth Quay is a 10-minute walk away and this could impinge on future visitation,” said Mr Thomson.

“If the State is to develop a new Aboriginal Cultural Centre it is critical that it has the best chance of realising the foot traffic and visitation rates are high in order to promote our deep Aboriginal culture from across the whole State.

“I am shocked with the cavalier adhockery of the Minister for Planning and the State Government not to undertake a proper planning process before announcing its site selection,” said Mr Thomson.

“The last thing that should happen is that this facility to celebrate our rich Aboriginal heritage becomes a white elephant which struggles to attract the maximum level of potential visitation and activation due to its unplanned location.

“Any planning study should contemplate building an Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the site it was considered as part of the Perth Waterfront Master Plan and the Metropolitan Region Scheme Amendment 1203/41 published in 2011, which stated ‘initial work has been undertaken on establishing the role and function of the Centre in conjunction with the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council and other members of the Aboriginal community’, Mr Thomson said.

Mr Thomson said that he will “call on the State Government to consider precinct planning rather than opportunistically repurposing a carpark they happen to own.”