The Labor Government has been brutal in the way they have handled the release of the Coaldrake Review into the Longreach and Emerald Agricultural Colleges according to the Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar.
“Minister Furner has slammed the doors shut with no thought for affected employees or students. That was his choice. It did not have to happen that way. It has created great concern for those families who have been affected,” he said.
Mr Millar said the Labor Government must commit to retaining an agricultural education component in any re-development of the Queensland Agricultural Training College campuses in Emerald and Longreach.
“We must not lose the educational commitment represented by these campuses,” said Mr Millar.
“People need to come together and speak with one voice to force the Palaszczuk Government to ensure both campuses continue to make a contribution to both education and agriculture into the future.
“We need to seize opportunity from adversity and I will be fighting to ensure that not only does the Labor government consult the Longreach and Emerald communities, it listens to them,” he said.
Mr Millar said the two campuses fulfilled different roles and this needs to be respected in any re-development or re-configuration.
“The drought will eventually break and with our wild-dog fencing in place we will see a recovery in our western sheep flocks. We need to ensure we have qualified wool handlers, shearers and pastoral workers to enable that to happen or all the wild-dog fencing will have been a waste,” he said.
“I support RAPAD’s suggestion that RAPAD Skilling could offer a wider menu of vocational courses utilising the Longreach campus facilities, but pastoral courses need to be retained as well.”
Mr Millar said that the opportunities in Emerald in partnering with CQU-CQIT and Agforce were exciting, but he believed the QATC farming operations should be retained as part of a new educational model.
“Plant biosecurity has been absolutely run down under the Labor Government. The farming operations could be combined with plant research and experimentation, be it through the DAF, the CSIRO or through postgraduate research through CQU. Other universities also use the farming operations to provide their students in courses such as Veterinary Science with hands-on experience.
“So the Emerald campus is a unique and much needed facility of state-wide significance and we must fight to retain it.”
Mr Millar said the future use of the residential facilities was of great concern to both the Longreach and Emerald communities.
“There is great concern in Longreach that the residence is already closed – as of now. The Longreach State High School had 11 prospective boarders for the 2019 school year and they have been left in limbo.
“The employees are devastated, too. It would appear their jobs are finished, just in time for a very sad Christmas,” he said.
Mr Millar said there was an opportunity in both communities for the residential facilities to be used in a way that provides employment and economic diversity.
“I would not like to see them sold for social housing when they can be productively used,” he said.
“There needs to be a separate community consultation about how these residential facilities are to be used and brought up to standard for that purpose. The Coaldrake Review does not represent proper consultation.”
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