35-39 Bridge Street, Sydney: centre of the NSW public education system for more than a century.

Premier asked to stop Bridge St sale process

Kerri Carr

Federation has called on Premier Michael Baird to urgently intervene in the sale process for 35-39 Bridge Street, Sydney.

The Government has already sought registrations of interest to buy the heritage-listed property that has been the centre of the NSW public education system for more than a century.

Federation President Maurie Mulheron said the building symbolised a time when governments had a commitment to public education.

He said the current government had been reduced to a vendor of state assets. “It doesn’t see its role to preserve and maintain our assets and heritage,” he said.

Mr Mulheron warned there was potential for any new buyer to be the subject of protest action.

A NSW Government Trade and Investment brochure advertising the Education building and the Lands building at 23-33 Bridge Street to an overseas market stated the buildings had “potential for redevelopment as luxury hotel, high-end residential apartments or retail or office towers”.

In a letter to the Premier, Acting General Secretary Sue Simpson asked Mr Baird to “deploy your office and authority” to find a “suitable public purpose for the site and thereby honour the children, the citizens, and NSW heritage that this building represents”.

The Bridge Street vigil in 1990.

This is not the first time a NSW government has tried to sell the site. The Greiner Government backed away from its plan following widespread protests and a candlelight vigil outside the building by parents, teachers, students and public servants on March 20, 1990.

35-39 Bridge Street houses rolls of honour that list the teachers and educators who served their country in war.

Teachers Sub-Branch of the RSL Secretary/Treasurer Ken Stevenson said the sub-branch viewed the building as a “spiritual home” for the boards and the teaching service in general.

He explained the boards were placed in storage during the previous attempt to sell the building. When the building was saved from sale and it was time for the boards to be returned to the Bridge Street building, the boards could not be found. They were eventually located and re-hung.

“I hoped they would remain in the building in perpetuity,” Mr Stevenson said.