The Labor Government must reconsider their decision to close Queensland’s last two remaining agricultural colleges or risk crippling impacts, according to Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar.
A petition has now been launched so that Queenslanders can add their voice to the plea.
“I have written to the Minister asking him not to consider the colleges as cost centres for generating profits for the government. He needs to understand that both colleges are unique institutions of state-wide significance and the educational presence must be retained on both campuses.”
“The Longreach Pastoral College (LPC) is the only educational institution training workers in sheep and wool. Producers, local governments and the state and federal governments have made substantial investments in wild-dog fencing to ensure that the western sheep and wool industry is resurgent when the drought breaks.”
“By closing the LPC, that investment will be lost because everyone from wool-classers to sheep-shearers will be in drastically short supply. It will devastate the industry all over again.”
Mr Millar says the Emerald Agricultural College (EAC) should be a pre-eminent institution for a wide variety of agriculture, but says the Government seems to want to sell down the campus and its associated farm and water rights despite irreplaceable educational and research opportunities on the site.
“In addition to providing agricultural training, the campus caters to university level courses. It provides practicums for Veterinary Science students from the University of Queensland, while Agforce and CQU have developed a Bachelor of Agriculture. With the merged entity of CQU and the former CQ Tafe, the EAC campus could host a range of opportunities from agricultural trades-skill modules to Bachelor courses and Masters research in Agriculture.”
“The value of the agricultural production of eastern Central Queensland from the Central Highlands to the Fitzroy has grown year on year, whether you measure it in terms of productivity or export earnings. With the development of the Rookwood Weir and the Inland Port at Yamala, this is only going upwards.”
“The EAC sits in a region that has high-value irrigation crops such as cotton, grapes, macadamia nuts and citrus. But it also has high value broad-acre cropping such as wheat and chickpeas. And it produces high quality beef including feedlot, grass-fed and certified organic product.”
“The last thing the Government should be doing is closing this facility.”
Mr Millar says not only was the Government’s report lacking in vision, the Minister had chosen to announce it in a way that would have the maximum, negative impact on 2019 enrolments and the communities.
There were 30 prospective students on the LPC campus when the Minister made his announcement that no more enrolments would be accepted.
Mr Millar said that he was disappointed the Government had made no effort to develop a modern curriculum better suited to new funding structures while still passing on the skills required by Queensland’s agricultural industry.
Link to petition: https://queensland.typeform.com/to/kMzH7s