Symes: Ryan pledge stunt

18 Jul 2018 Benalla Ensign, Benalla VIC (General News) by Simon Ruppert Labors Jaclyn Symes has accused Member for Euroa Steph Ryan of pulling an election-year stunt following a recent funding announcement. Ms Ryan met with Benallas Raise the Roof committee last week at the equestrian club and pledged $250 000 to them if the Nationals are elected in November. RTR has been fundraising for a new indoor equestrian facility for several years, and has already raised $50 000 towards the $400 000 project. Ms Symes, who is the member for Northern Victoria in the states legislative assembly, has been working with RTR for some time and has secured some funding via Benalla Rural City Council. She is also currently in the process of applying to Sport and Recreation Victoria for extra funds for the project. This is appalling behaviour from an elected official, dragging a well-intended sporting and community group into an election-year stunt, Ms Symes said. The reality is that I have been working closely with Raise the Roof and council who have pledged funding due to my support of the project. We (also) have an application in with Sports and Recreation Victoria due for a decision within months. What Ms Ryan is trying to do is pre-empt Labor funding in the hope that she looks like an effective advocate for this important Benalla project. Its poor form and will be seen by locals for what it is desperation. Ms Ryan did not respond directly to Ms Symes comments but did say she was delighted to help the Raise the Roof committee. The Raise the Roof committee have done wonderful work in fundraising towards their goal of a new arena. I was delighted last week to pledge $250 000 to make the dream a reality if the Nationals are elected to government in November. RTR committee member Melissa Mounsey said the committee was grateful for the support of Ms Symes and Ms Ryan. It feels fantastic. Its just wonderful that both can see the potential of the facility to continue to grow and develop for the benefit of the town. Its great that they believe in the project as much as we do. Both sides of politics have supported us . . . both have been great. Ultimately at the end of the day our goal is to have the facility built, and were thrilled with whoever helps out.