RMS back EDE 'push poll' in Queanbeyan

QUEANBEYAN City Councillors have expressed their disappointment over the Road Maritime Services' decision to ignore councillor-approved questions and push through with their own Ellerton Extension Drive phone survey.

It comes after a lengthy debate between councillors to replace the original survey questions, deemed misleading or irrelevant, with a shorter six-question poll.

Councillors also moved to take out what they felt was inaccurate terminology such as referring to the EDE as a bypass.

But their request has fallen on deaf ears with the RMS informing the council late last week that the council-endorsed questions would be rephrased or entirely excluded.

A RMS spokesperson said the final questions were designed in consultation with research professionals to ensure they were "objective and neutral".

Independent company Jetty Research will carry out the survey.

"The questions were designed by survey experts. All but one suggested by councillors were included," the spokesperson said.

"Questions about demographics are critical to this survey to help inform the reach and effectiveness throughout the community. These were questions deemed irrelevant by council."

The Queanbeyan Age has been unable to obtain a copy of the final questions from the RMS. A spokesperson said the questions will be released to the public, along with the survey results, in July.

Katrina Willis is a member of the Queanbeyan Conservation Alliance and opposed to the EDE. She was surveyed last week and said she felt the poll was full of "leading questions".

She jotted a few down and recorded the following: Have heard of the EDE? Do you have any concerns? Do you know how it will be funded? Do you know where to find information about the EDE?

"There were no alternative options to the EDE mentioned and no context given, for example the Googong and Tralee Traffic Study," she said.

"The questions about the EDE were isolated and they referred to it as a "bypass". I was quite astonished the RMS ignored councillors' questions.

"Who's running this project, is it the councillors or unelected officers of the RMS? What's the real purpose of the survey? They said it was going to add validity but so far it's done the precise opposite."

Councillor Kenrick Winchester and councillor Jamie Cregan submitted the set of six questions which were approved by council.

Cr Winchester deemed the RMS-funded survey "push polling" and a "waste of taxpayers' money".

"It's disappointing and a real missed opportunity," he said.

"The RMS is just promoting the road and not actually surveying residents. They should be asking relevant questions about how much people know about the road and the alternative options."

Jetty Research has already begun polling residents with a minimum of 800 people who live in the 2619 and 2620 postcodes surveyed between Thursday, May 21 - May 27.

The survey is expected to be finalised by the start of June and results released in July.

Queanbeyan City Council had previously agreed to run a separate council-funded survey asking the current residents of Googong, Fernleigh Park, Mt Campbell, Burra, Little Burra and Royalla which road they would prefer - Ellerton Drive Extension or Dunns Creek Road?

The council has requested quotes for how much the survey might cost and will discuss it at the Planning and Development Review Committee Meeting in June.