NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin has denied in Parliament that a byelection promise was broken when Wagga's Riverina Conservatorium of Music lost its chance at a $20 million recital hall complex.
Last month a senior NSW public servant, while appearing as a witness at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), revealed that the project's stage two had been assessed as "not economically or financially viable". The NSW government had already given the conservatorium $10 million in 2018 to move from the old Charles Sturt University campus to a disused RTA building on Simmons Street as stage one of the project.
Works are still ongoing at the site to convert the building for music teaching.
On Tuesday, Parliament's lower house was given official confirmation of this decision.
"The NSW government will not proceed with the stage two project and will investigate alternative options to consider how we can continue to support the arts in the Wagga and Riverina community," Regional Youth Minister Bronnie Taylor advised Parliament.
Labor MLCs then asked Mr Harwin about the decision in Parliament's upper house, with Penny Sharpe telling him "you didn't tell us that it had been stopped" when the conservatorium topic was raised in mid-October.
"That is just simply not true," Mr Harwin responded.
Shadow arts spokesman Walt Secord asked about "community concerns in Wagga that his government has broken its byelection promise and has now abandoned arts funding for the region? Another broken promise".
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Mr Harwin responded the situation was "very simple".
"The $20 million project was subject to a full project scope and costings and completion of the business case," he said.
"That was the promise that was made and if the project did not stack up during the business case process, it would not be funded. So there is no broken promise.
"We did what we said we would do: that we would have a look at the project."
Mr Harwin said it "was news to me" when the ICAC hearing revealed the funding would not go ahead.
"But it is not surprising that I did not know because ... I am not the relevant minister," he said.
"The process is being led by the Department of Regional NSW."
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