Politician’s $160 million promise to reopen ag colleges
A CENTRAL Queensland politician has announced he will commit $160 million towards the revitalisation of the Emerald and Longreach agricultural colleges.
NQ First leader Jason Costigan said the $160 million would form part of the new Building the North program, which would only come to fruition if the party secured the balance of power at the state election.
The program will form part of NQ First's $6 billion royalty-funded Real Royalties for Regions program announced in February.
Mr Costigan said he wanted to get the Emerald Agricultural College and Longreach Pastoral College "firing again like the good old days".
"Agriculture will play an important part in the economic recovery," he said.
"But we must invest in our education and training institutions, so we are churning out young people who actually want to have a career in agriculture."
The program wouldn't only include the reopening of colleges at Emerald and Longreach but also the establishment of others in the Burdekin and Tablelands regions, in what Mr Costigan called a "back to the future" move.
Longreach Pastoral College and Emerald Agricultural College were established in the late 1960s but after the Coaldrake Review in 2018, the decision was made to close them.
The closures were announced in late 2018 and, at the time, Minister for Agriculture Mark Furner called the teaching model "outdated", while Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud labelled the decision "callous".
"These places were wonderful institutions," Mr Costigan said.
"We have to put agriculture back on a pedestal."
The multimillion-dollar commitment comes as part of a plan to revitalise communities in Central and North Queensland in the aftermath of coronavirus.
But for now it's all talk and without the balance of power it will remain just that.