Campaigners pushing for the state government to explain an apparent double standard when selling historic buildings to local councils have been left puzzled by a response from the leader of the NSW Nationals.
Deputy Premier Paul Toole was asked why Wagga City Council had to pay $610,000 for the Johnston Street ambulance station when Armidale Regional Council was recently gifted a historic courthouse for just $1.
Mr Toole said he wasn't aware of the exact details surrounding the Wagga ambulance station, but that some facilities were gifted back as they originally belonged to the residents anyway.
"There are some facilities, there are some assets that are in local communities that were actually built by the local community," he said.
"In some cases, those facilities have actually seen fundraising in the past where the community has come together and they've actually raised the funds to build those facilities."
The Deputy Premier went on to say the proposals were all "very different" and that the NSW government wants to see the facilities being used by the community.
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The response has drawn the ire of former Wagga mayor Greg Conkey, who pointed out that the ambulance station was originally built by the community in the 1920s before being gifted to the state government.
"I have stressed all the way through that it was gifted to the government in the first place and I have said we have a number of community groups lined up to use this facility," he said.
"We seem to have ticked all the boxes that Mr Toole has addressed."
Wagga City Council is currently seeking an explanation from the NSW government over the discrepancy, amid fears the council was treated unfairly when it was given the $610,000 price tag.
Labor councillor Dan Hayes said the response from the Deputy Premier has further muddied the waters.
"It is just absolute confusion trying to get a proper answer," he said.
"It feels like they are just making it up as they go and that they don't have a clear policy."
Cr Hayes pointed out that the Armidale, Bathurst, Bombala, Tamworth and Moree councils that have recently been gifted state assets for just $1 are all located in electorates held by the Nationals.
"Wagga didn't miss out from any policy or other factor, it missed out because the government did not want to do it," he said.
"Mr Toole's comments were the exact same arguments that council and the former mayor Greg Conkey had been making for years."
Mr Conkey said he had explained that the community originally built the Wagga ambulance station when he wrote to Mr Toole about the situation in October, 2021.
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