News

Nationals defend super school poll timing

By James Bennett

Victorian Nationals deputy leader Steph Ryan does not believe her party left a community phone poll too late to make an impact on the Shepparton Education Plan.

Ms Ryan said "thousands" of people were called last week but eventually only 250 people were surveyed.

The results showed more than 60 per cent of the respondents were against the plan, while 76 per cent said there was little to no consultation.

"Many people won't pick up the phone or hang up when they hear the automated voice," Ms Ryan said.

"We don't believe government when they say those against it are just a loud minority within the Shepparton community."

The News asked Ms Ryan why the Nationals surveyed the community now and not earlier in the year.

"It's only recently more people have started to contact me and other Nationals members directly," she said.

"The community has driven this a lot harder in the last month because more people are now aware of the issues around transiting and also funding.

"We know the government has allocated money for the demolition but there is no money on the table for the construction. I've seen what happened in Benalla and there was a 12-year fight to get that funding.

"Shepparton shouldn't have to wait decades down the track for funding; I don't want to see the same thing happen in Shepparton as it did in Benalla."

The poll asked about consultation, level of support and concern regarding funding with the super school.

It also asked if the listener was concerned about State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed's support for the super school.

The News asked Ms Ryan why the Nationals polled the public about Ms Sheed's view on the plan.

"She has been a real driving force for the super school," Ms Ryan said.

"Being the local member, it's concerning to hear she's not listening to the community as a main proponent of the school.

"People often look towards the local member for support."

As the poll was paid for by the Nationals it will not be presented to Victorian Parliament.

Ms Ryan said she will write to Education Minister James Merlino telling him the results and asking him to reconsider his position.

More about the Nationals' poll

Nationals too late to the party

Super school concerns aired in Nationals phone survey

Have your say on the name of Shepparton’s super school