AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the lack of any commitment to the Longreach and Emerald Agricultural Colleges in the 2020-21 Queensland budget was a significant blow to the industry and to the future training of workers.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the lack of any commitment to the Longreach and Emerald Agricultural Colleges in the 2020-21 Queensland budget was a significant blow to the industry and to the future training of workers.

Lack of funding a blow to CQ agricultural industry

AGRICULTURAL leaders are disappointed over the lack of funding for the future of the industry.

The 2020-21 Queensland budget was handed down by State Government last week and highlighted an additional $200 million for the Works for Queensland program to support local governments outside South-East Queensland.

The purpose of the program was to grow the regions and support key industries such as tourism, agriculture and mining.

However, agricultural leaders were quick to point out the absence of funding for the Longreach and Emerald Agricultural Colleges.

AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the lack of any commitment to the facilities was a significant blow to the industry and to the future training of workers.

"Without urgent action the currently idle agricultural colleges risk being lost to the industry forever," Mr Guerin said.

"The timing couldn't be worse.

"Young men and women from all over Australia used to move to Longreach and Emerald to study agriculture related subjects.

" … imagine what that might have looked like now, with many more people moving to or staying put in regional communities to avoid the city crush during COVID."

He believes the government is at risk of missing out on a huge opportunity by not allocating seed funding to modernise these facilities, not only for agriculture, but potentially for tourism training, and commercial opportunities.

"Providing industry-relevant training is vital to ensuring agriculture's current and future workforce is job ready with the skills needed in their employees," Mr Guerin said.

"If the State Government is indeed serious about agriculture playing its role as a key driver in the nation's post-COVID economic recovery, which we believe they are, then they must find a way to return these colleges to their former glory as part of a broader approach to supporting quality training for all agricultural workers."

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, said the State Government was considering proposals for the former Longreach and Emerald Agricultural Colleges, ensuring they would be re-purposed to provide greater contributions to the communities.

Although the colleges haven't been funded, he said a significant amount of funding has been dedicated to the future of the industry.

"The State Budget includes a significant investment in agricultural training, including $11.4 million towards agricultural and aquaculture training facilities at high schools in Kingaroy, St George, Bowen, Clifton, Roma and Rockhampton, and more than $7.7 million in agricultural facilities at TAFEs in Bowen, Toowoomba and Bundaberg," Mr Furner said.

"The Palaszczuk Government is focussed on the jobs of today and the future, and we are making sure we have the skilled workers to fill them."



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