QATC chair looks to the future after ag college closure

Hugh Rose speaks out on Longreach and Emerald pastoral colleges closure

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QATC chair Hugh Rose and then-AgForce chief executive Charles Burke sign a training partnership in 2017.

QATC chair Hugh Rose and then-AgForce chief executive Charles Burke sign a training partnership in 2017.


College facilities won't be mothballed, chair Hugh Rose says.


Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges chairman Hugh Rose says closing pastoral colleges in Longreach and Emerald was a tough call but the right call.  

On Wednesday Agriculture Minister Mark Furner announced that Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges would be closed at the end of 2019 following a review by Professor Peter Coaldrake. 

Professor Coaldrake concluded that residential agricultural training was "under threat" and the training models at Longreach and Emerald were "clearly unsustainable". 

Mr Rose, an experienced educator who was appointed QATC chair in 2015, said the colleges were simply not sustainable and could not be financially justified by the government. 

"I support the outcome. I support it because financially we were losing huge amounts of money every year and the government has to be responsible," he said. 

Mr Rose said while it did not make the decision any easier to swallow for outback communities, there were some positives to look forward to. 

"The colleges won't just be mothballed or closed down," he said. 

"I don't know what it will be, but I think you'll see them used for other vocational or training purposes.

"Instead of going down the gurgler, let's stem the flow and re-purpose the facilities."

The Longreach Regional Council, which could stand to take over the Longreach campus as part of the RAPAD organisation, struck a similarly optimistic chord. 

"The Longreach Pastoral College has been a vital part of our community for over 50 years," Deputy Mayor Leonie Nunn said.

"While we are disappointed by today's announcement, we are committed to being part of the solution, so that the facility can continue its tradition of service to our community."

The Coaldrake review proposed that RAPAD, an alliance of seven central west councils, would take over not-for-profit training in the central west and could use Longreach Pastoral College's facilities. 

 A fund of $7 million has been set aside to help staff and current students transition as the colleges are wound down through 2019. 

“We have made a commitment as a government to invest and provide $7 million into the communities in regards to assisting in the transitional period,” Mr Furner said.

Mr Furner said the review found demand for traditional agricultural training had been declining for years and more flexible options were needed. 

"The Coaldrake review has identified opportunities to grow the vocational education, training and skills sector in central western Queensland and help boost economic growth and regional resilience," he said.


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