Gympie farmers lament ag college losses, worry for industry
QUEENSLAND Agricultural Training colleges will be no more at the close of 2019, following an announcement made by Agricultural Minister Mark Furner this week.
The State Government put an end to speculation when it announced the closure of the remaining two ag colleges in Longreach and Emerald.
The news followed a review from Professor Peter Coaldrake which concluded the two colleges were not sustainable.
This news has dealt a low blow to future farmers in Queensland, with many people concerned about what happens next.
Langshaw ginger farmer William Garrett attended the Longreach Pastoral College for two years in 1993-94, and says the closures are a "terrible shame.”
"It is disappointing, there's no other campuses that offer the same thing,” he said.
Gympie Beef Liaison Committee secretary Brian Kaddatz studied at the Emerald Agricultural College for two years in 1987-88 and is deeply concerned about how this decision will affect the future of agriculture in this state.
"These colleges were a stepping stone for young people to get them work ready,” Mr Kaddatz said.
"There is now no such thing as training... who's going to put food on the table when all the farmers are gone?”
Mr Kaddatz runs a small herd of cattle on his property, and says he would not be where he is today without the time spent at agricultural college.
"There is no way in the world you could do what I do now without going to that college,” he sai
"Not everyone in Australia wants to go to university to get a career; this was an out for those people.”
Mr Kaddatz's 17-year-old daughter is now enrolled at the Emerald college, and has one year left of her studies. It is unsure whether she will be able to complete her degree knowing the future of the college.
"She is devastated. I doubt she will be able to finish. What staff would want to stay on a sinking ship?”
There are 108 staff members between the two colleges, but Mr Kaddatz believes "tens of thousands” of people will suffer the consequences.
Mr Furner said this week the government had spent "millions of dollars” on the program to keep it alive but on Wednesday it had drawn "a line in the sand”.
The State Government will be investing $7 million to aid students in completing their studies, and transitioning teachers into other training facilities.
LNP leader and Nanango MP Deb Frecklington said she was astonished that the multi billion dollar agriculture industry would not have a training facility in Queensland.
"We should be doing more to encourage young Queenslanders to stay in the regions, learn a skill and get a decent job,” she said.