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AgForce ‘Furious’ At Closures

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AgForce president Georgie Somerset

December 5, 2018

AgForce is furious it has been ignored by the State Government about the closure of Queensland’s two agricultural colleges.

General president Georgie Somerset said she was staggered the broadacre sector was not asked for input into the termination of the Longreach Pastoral College and Emerald Agricultural College.

“These two institutions have historically provided a vital contribution to the success of modern broadacre agriculture,” Mrs Somerset said.

“However, they have struggled in the face of changing demographics and a challenging business environment.

“It is shameful that our industry has been roundly ignored by the government and by Prof Peter Coaldrake on this issue, when we have historically been so involved in and connected to the Colleges.

“Minister Furner claims to have consulted more than 70 organisations, so it is perplexing that AgForce was not one of them, especially given our memorandum of understanding with Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges (QATC).

“Our industry needs innovative, best-practice, accessible education to ensure we can continue to grow and deliver economic and employment benefits to Queensland.

“Broadacre agriculture in Queensland is worth $7.25 billion at the farm gate, plus $2.5 billion in first stage processing.

“More than 330,000 Queenslanders are employed across the whole food supply chain, including critically important jobs in our regional and rural communities.

“Ensuring access to quality education and skills development provides important career paths for young people in the bush at a time we are trying to encourage them to stay on the land.”

Mrs Somerset said it was imperative the State Government closely involve broadacre agriculture in planning to “modernise and reinvigorate vocational education, training and skilling in the State’s central west” as stated in the media release.

“The media release issued by Minister Furner is very short on detail when it comes to what this plan involves, and how they are going to improve educational opportunities available to young people in the bush,” she said.

She described the closure of the colleges as “the end of an era” that many people would see as proof that the State Government has a tin ear when it comes to listening to rural Queenslanders.

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2 Responses to AgForce ‘Furious’ At Closures

  1. Graham Archdall

    So much for the crocodile tears over supporting our drought-stricken farmers.

    When it comes to real support of agricultural industries Anna goes missing.

    Decisions like this not only stir economic headwinds against our regions, they demolish historic institutions without any viable alternative.

    I believe the government is providing $7 million to transition staff and students. This is not adequate and Longreach and Emerald will suffer major losses due to this decision.

    The real losses will be the skills and careers that would have been created to provide economic benefit to our regions and the nation.

  2. Ben Rankin

    Perhaps the economics and enrolments involved in this decision, that have been on the wrong side of the ledger year-in year-out for some time, should be shown to the public to remove the emotive and political manipulations.

    The reality is simple. Despite the government – and the one before more so – throwing millions at them, despite better returns from selling the production of crops, cattle, cotton etc etc etc, despite the writedowns and reduced expenditures, the viability just is NOT there.

    Running at multi-million dollar losses each year for some time on top of lower enrolments, and really low employment achievements. The State-funded colleges and Sector have been aware of this coming for years.

    Not forgetting that alternative training options have come into the market, and the repeated training aspect that State facilities can or are addressing already where doubling the cost with as stated poor results are multiplied…

    It isn’t rocket science, go to the College websites, read the publicly available financial and or yearly reports.

    The numbers speak for themselves.

    All the rhetoric in the world, the anticipated blaming of Labor for regional and agricultural woes from the opposing politic, is hardly new, however the ability for folks to garner the information themselves is rapidly increasing compared to the decades gone, with which they are doing.

    Again, regional employment opportunities aren’t what folks want them to be or think they are. The numbers of graduates are very low, as are the percentages of continuity let alone the gaining of appropriately trained for employment.

    Sixteen graduates across the two colleges, multi-millions in deficit per year to an accumulated HIGH figure of State debt for too long of little, in real terms, benefit.

    This is the reality that changes have been ongoing across the board, time to transition with them.

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