Labor intensifies demands for investigation into sale of Gundagai hospital

COOTAMUNDRA MP Katrina Hodgkinson has slapped down calls for an inquiry into the botched sale of the old Gundagai hospital. 

It comes after the Gundagai community rallied behind Tumut-based Labor MP Mick Veitch’s demand for answers about how the state government squandered a small fortune by selling the facility for $500,000 below market value. 

Gundagai leaders tried to buy the hospital on behalf of the community but were dissuaded by a heavily inflated asking price.

Ms Hodgkinson has distanced herself from the bungled transaction, claiming she did all she could to help the Gundagai community repurpose the five buildings and approximately 120 rooms into a not-for-profit aged care centre. 

The Nationals MP, who was demoted by press release after crossing the floor in opposition of the greyhound ban and has since boycotted party room meetings, dismissed calls for an inquiry as “political opportunism in its most blatant form”.

“I can't interfere in the procurement or sale of public assets, particularly when you know the people tendering,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“There’s a strict protocol in place to make sure no preferential treatment is given to individuals or organisations.

“I'm confident I did the right thing by meeting with constituents as an intermediary who put their proposal forward to the health minister.”

Mr Veitch agreed Ms Hodgkinson was duty-bound to keep at arm’s length from the sale, but rejected any insinuation her adherence to procedure somehow absolved the government of its responsibility to seek the best price for public assets.

“The community offered to see the health minister with a very good solution for the future use of the site,” Mr Veitch said.

“For the old hospital to be sold in a firesale and then (privately) onsold some 18 months later for six times more money; it doesn’t gel.

“Everyone I talk to says something’s not right, it doesn't pass pub test.

“The only way the community will get answers is if the finance minister conducts an external audit of the process.”

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