The Liberal Party has commissioned phone polling to be carried out in Northern Tasmania over the Westbury prison proposal, but opponents claim the questioning was leading and would not give an accurate result.
Residents started receiving the calls on Tuesday evening from Sydney-based firm Kelly Research.
The initial questions were generic in nature, including whether the respondent would be more likely to vote for Premier Will Hodgman or Labor leader Bec White.
Westbury Against the Prison president Linda Poulton said the questions then became more "leading", such as asking how the respondent feels about a prison being built in their area if it creates a certain number of permanent jobs, or injects more than $100 million into the local economy.
She said there was also no mention of Westbury or Birralee in the questions, with "in your area" used instead.
"The questions are clearly skewed to come up with a particular result," Ms Poulton said.
"If they wanted to get an accurate response, they should instead ask, 'Would you support a prison being built at the Birralee site?'
"It has the potential to influence the responses, and its gauging feedback in a leading fashion."
Premier Will Hodgman confirmed the polling was commissioned by the Liberal Party, rather than by the government, and it remained unclear how the data would be used.
MORE ON THE WESTBURY PRISON:
- Many Westbury residents 'hostile' to jail plan
- Northern Tasmanian prison site revealed
- Michael Polley says Westbury not right place for new prison
- Northern Tasmania Development Corporation defends prison
- Westbury should sense opportunity, mayor of council with three prisons says
- Meander councillor John Temple questions prison plans
- Drop-in information sessions confirmed for Westbury prison
- Elise Archer talks up proposed Northern Regional Prison
"That's something that's being done by the Liberal Party," he said.
"As has been demanded of us by the opposition - to consult with communities - we're doing that."
The polling was framed as a "socio-economic survey" to "gauge social acceptance" of the Westbury prison, The Examiner was told.
Mr Hodgman said the "very lengthy consultation process" would give the government time to address concerns from the Westbury community.
"At least we've got the political courage to front up and talk to that community, understand their concerns, engage with them on the preferred site," he said.
Liberal Party of Tasmania director Sam McQuestin said the polling was part of normal research.
"The Liberal Party conducts regular market research across the state and last night's was part of that program," he said.
Labor urges government to 'walk away' from Westbury plans
Labor leader Bec White has called on the government to abandon plans to build the Northern Regional Prison at Westbury and release the shortlist of potential prison sites.
Ms White said the government needed to start the process again and bring the community along.
"They've been exposed about the process that they've undertaken in Westbury, it has serious shortcomings, was a complete surprise to that town, and the only way to remedy this is to walk away from Westbury as a site - it doesn't have consensus support from that community," she said.
"They spent 18 months going through a process calling for expressions of interest, spending $250,000 on a consultant's report, and now over $100,000 on another consultant.
"Taxpayers have a right to know where that money has been spent, and what those shortlisted sites are so that the community can be properly consulted."