Friday, August 17, 2007

Why I remain a New England New Stater 3 - the conservation laboratory case

More than twenty years ago I was involved in moves to establish a conservation laboratory in Armidale.

I thought that this was a pretty good idea. New England records were rotting away. It was expensive to send them to Sydney. Why not create some local infrastructure?

To make this work, we had to get some economies of scale. Not a problem, I thought. We will treat it as a New England lab servicing the broader New England area including the Hunter, North Coast and Western Slopes and Plains. Those in Newcastle might still prefer to use Sydney because it was closer than Armidale, but overall we should get sufficient scale.

The then conservationist at the New England Regional Art Museum carefully explained that the existing labs in Sydney were underutilised. There was no way the NSW Government would fund an extra lab in those circumstances.

But, I said, New England people are not using this service because of cost and distance. That does not matter, I was told. Looking at it from a state perspective, you cannot justify a new facility when existing ones are underutilised. The idea ultimately died.

Would a New England New State Movement have helped? Probably, because it would have given us additional political strength to overcome the Sydney problem.

Return to introductory post.

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