NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has denied involvement in the decision to grant the Riverina Conservatorium of Music $20 million to transform a former government building into a new recital hall complex.
In budget Estimates on Thursday, Labor MLC John Graham asked Ms Berejiklian about the funding, which was confirmed in the midst of the byelection campaign after Wagga MP Daryl Maguire stood down in the wake of a corruption scandal in 2018.
An Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry last year revealed Ms Berejiklian was in a "close personal relationship" with Mr Maguire at the time.
Last month, Regional NSW Public Works Advisory Department deputy secretary Chris Hanger told a parliamentary inquiry Ms Berejiklian was the one to approve the funding.
On Thursday, Mr Graham asked the premier if she agreed with that evidence.
"I would not have specifically approved that, no," Ms Berejiklian said.
Mr Graham then asked her why the letter of approval, signed by treasurer Dominic Perrottet, read "The Premier and I approve this reservation."
Ms Berejiklian said announcements during a by-election were frequently made by those involved in the campaign, but the relevant agency would be the one allocating funds.
Mr Graham said Mr Maguire made an announcement in February 2018 that the Conservatorium would receive the stage two funding, several months before it was approved.
Mr Graham asked Ms Berejiklian why Mr Maguire would be announcing funding months before it was approved.
"I do not know ... I suspect many members of Parliament would go to their communities to say, 'I am going to make sure we get this funding for my project ... that is not an irregular occurrence," Ms Berejiklian said.
Mr Graham disputed this, saying Mr Maguire's speech was an announcement rather than a commitment to seek the funding.
Ms Berejiklian said she had "no vivid recollection" of discussing the project with Mr Maguire.
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