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Maritime museum in rough seas amid stoush with council


It’s been a long running saga, and now a war of words has erupted yet again between members of the Newcastle Maritime Museum Society (NMMS) and City of Newcastle.

The Newcastle Maritime Museum closed its doors in May 2018 when visitor numbers dwindled.

Since then, the society has worked to ensure the return of a stand-alone waterside maritime museum. 

In a recent meeting of the society, members agreed to form a working party of relevant leading city stakeholders to plan the establishment of a major world-class maritime and industrial destination attraction.

But major problems exist regarding debts owed to proven creditors of the society.

In a statement to the Newcastle Weekly, City of Newcastle said that, should the NMMS elect to dissolve, it would work with a liquidator on the purchase of a number of items from the NMMS collection, which would then be exhibited at the Newcastle Museum.

Proceeds from the sale would be used by the liquidator to address debts owed.

However, the maritime museum argues that, as an incorporated association, it does not need a liquidator and the constitution of NMMS prevents funds generated by the sale of its collection being used to pay debts.

City of Newcastle has fired back, telling Newcastle Weekly that, while policy says proceeds from the sale of the collection cannot be used to repay debts, a liquidator is not bound by this policy and will, under Commonwealth law, use the funds to repay creditors.

NMMS has also criticised the council for “not taking the opportunity to discuss the current situation of debts” and that, while it has conducted “sound legal processes to resolve all major debts, it will be pleased to discuss financial arrangements over several remaining small debts.”

City of Newcastle told the Newcastle Weekly, “given it is clear a significant number of creditors remain unpaid, and the NMMS has just several thousand dollars of working funds, it supports the NMMS’s proposed motion to dissolve”.

“The demise of the Newcastle Maritime Museum is a reminder of the costly nature of operating, curating and maintaining a museum, and why City of Newcastle’s position remains that the best way of ensuring local maritime items are available to the public, is via Newcastle Museum,” the council added in its statement.

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