Professor David Mabberley, widely respected and admired Executive Director of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens has abruptly left his job.
Why this has happened less than 2 years after his appointment remains unclear, as RBG staff are not forthcoming and Adam Cooke, Director of Public Affairs at the Office of the Environment has so far not returned my phone call. But a resignation this sudden and immediate (one day’s notice!) does not bode well. People in the horticulture industry I’ve asked about it were shocked and surprised to hear of his sudden departure.
Rumours I hear from several sources suggest conflict between Mabberley and the Board and possibly also departmental staff. Maybe this also included the minister, the Hon Robyn Parker, Minister for Environment and Heritage, who has been very conspicuously ‘hands on’ in her involvement with RBG goings on, being seen at most openings and events.
Whatever the reason, keeping it hushed up, which is no doubt part of some agreement, allows us all to imagine the worst.
The unrest in the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage seems to be a continuing thing, with former Sydney Living Museums (Historic Houses Trust) Executive Director Kate Clark suddenly ‘relocated’ to a policy job with the Office of Environment and Heritage in August.
To lose one head of an important state cultural institution in such dubious circumstances may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks a lot worse than carelessness.
UPDATE 27 Sept – the latest rumours I hear is that Minster Robyn Parker was putting pressure on Mabberley and the Sydney RBG to become more commercialised and park-like, which Mabberley refused to do, believing that the RBG is an important independent scientific institution, so he was forced to resign. A NSW State Government minister who thinks that the RBG is just a park. Heaven help us.