ABC’s Sydney-based radio, news teams to relocate to Parramatta by 2024

ABC’s Sydney-based radio and news teams will be relocated to Parramatta at the end of 2023 under plans outlined by the national broadcaster to move 75 per cent of its workers away from inner-city headquarters.

Journalists from ABC Radio Sydney, ABC News and ABC Radio National will move to new offices at Parramatta Square from early 2024 under a new lease agreement, which will be finalised by the end of August. The proposal to move about 300 staff, first outlined in 2020, will be reviewed by the parliamentary standing committee on public works.

The ABC headquarters in Ultimo. About 300 staff will relocate to Paramatta.Credit:Christopher Pearce

ABC managing director David Anderson said the move showed the broadcaster’s commitment to being more local.

“As a new facility, ABC Parramatta provides a rare opportunity to build something from the ground up. It will be a home for innovation and collaboration, designed and equipped to help us better serve Australians, now and into the future,” Anderson said.

The ABC announced plans to move 300 employees working in Ultimo to Parramatta in a proposal outlined in its five-year plan in 2020. The broadcaster put out a tender for a property advisor about suitable locations for the facility and plans to lease the available space in Ultimo to non-ABC parties. There were about 1700 staff working in Ultimo before the coronavirus pandemic.

Parramatta Square was a $3.2 billion project developed by Walker Corporation. Executive chairman Lang Walker welcomed the expanded presence.“The ABC will become an integral part of Parramatta Square, which is welcoming all of Sydney as a great place to work, live and socialise,” Walker said.

About 200 of the staff from the news, regional and local and entertainment and specialist divisions were expected to be relocated from Ultimo as part of the proposal. The ABC has separately expanded its regional and rural coverage, hiring 57 journalists last year after it struck deals with Google and Facebook for use of news content.

In a note to staff on Thursday afternoon, Anderson said Parramatta Square was a “prime location” for the ABC.

“ABC Parramatta takes ABC teams and our storytelling into the heart of the nation’s fastest growing region,” he said. “It is a component of our broader goals – for content making teams to be more decentralised and, just as we are in regional Australia, to be even more connected and representative of communities in metropolitan and outer metropolitan locations.”

Anderson said the move would also coincide with increased investment in ABC Listen and improvements to ABC’s office space in Ultimo, Sydney.

“The one-off capital investment for the state-of-the-art fit out of our new ABC Parramatta premises, and the refurbishment of Ultimo and other properties, is funded through our review of properties and managed via our capital budget process,” he said.

An artist’s impression of Parramatta Square.

The location of ABC’s headquarters was a major point of contention for the previous government, particularly because of a three-year funding freeze introduced in 2018. Newly anointed communications minister Michelle Rowland said earlier this year the ABC was doing the right thing by moving some staff members to Parramatta.

The NSW government has turned its focus in recent years to supporting western Sydney’s rapid growth and establishing it as a cultural hub. It is building the Powerhouse Parramatta (the new Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences) and planning upgrades to the Riverside Theatres.

The ABC’s announcement comes as the federal government conducts a feasibility study into whether to relocate multicultural broadcaster SBS to Western Sydney. At least four councils – Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Parramatta and Blacktown – are lobbying to become the broadcaster’s home.

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