ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Ian Burnett. Jessica Dorey

'Process' to guide college closure

THE futures of the agricultural colleges at Emerald and Longreach - due to close at the end of this year - remain undecided as local "transition” advisory committees look at applications for the sites with the final decision to be made by the State Government.

The Minister for Agriculture Mark Furner was unable to provide any extra information about plans for the college sites.

The closures were announced in December last year and, at the time, Mr Furner called the teaching model "outdated” while Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud labelled the decision "callous”.

The Longreach Pastoral College (LPC) and the Emerald Agricultural College (EAC) were established in the late 1960s but after last year's Coaldrake Review, the decision was made to close both.

The move also brings to an end QATC (Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges) as an identity.

When he made the announcement, Mr Furner said the review found "traditional agricultural industry training” had been declining.

Since then, many in the community have remained outraged, however, they are hopeful a decision will be made to facilitate ongoing training in the agricultural sector.

Central Highlands cotton grower Ian Burnett said the "transition” committee comprised representatives from Central Highlands Regional Council, Central Highlands Regional Development Corporation, CWA, CQUniversity, and local high schools and had been looking at applications for the future of the site.

"That work is under way,” Mr Burnett said. "There's a process in place.”

He said Longreach and Emerald had each formed their own committees, and the Emerald committee was currently looking at about 21 proposals.

"It's an advisory committee and the final decision is with the minister and the department.

"I'd like to see that as far as Emerald Agricultural College goes, there is the opportunity for continued training and that someone can provide that or some form of similar model to what is existing at the moment.

"I think that we've got to provide that opportunity for young people before they go into the workforce.

"It gives them the chance to have a basic understanding of agriculture and provides training in safety.”

Mr Burnett said the agriculture sector was growing and it was vital young people had educational avenues.

In the announcement last year Mr Furner said the government would be investing $30 million to modernise vocational training in the region with $7 million to initially ensure students can complete their studies; maximise employment opportunities; establish a project management office; and work with the local communities to determine the best future use of existing college facilities.