Council supports idea to attract Defence Force

Idea to lure Defence Force west gets council support

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The hunt is on for new ways pastoral college facilities can be used.

The hunt is on for new ways pastoral college facilities can be used.

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A Defence Force training hub would give a vital boost to western Queensland.

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A western Queensland council is throwing its weight behind an ambitious idea to attract the Defence Force to the region for training exercises.

With the Longreach Pastoral College set to close by the end of the year, the state government and local stakeholders have been canvassing other uses for the college's facilities.

At last month's annual meeting of the Western Queensland Local Government Association, Longreach Councillor and Qantas Founders Museum chief executive Tony Martin stressed the need for outside of the box solutions.

One such idea put forward by Cr Martin was using Longreach Pastoral College land for Defence Force training exercises such as navigation drills.

The Longreach Regional Council has backed the idea, with last month's council minutes including an action to approach Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud to express "support for the concept of the region being utilised by the Defence Force for training purposes".

Residential pastoral colleges in Longreach and Emerald are shutting following a review by Professor Peter Coaldrake.

Last year Professor Coaldrake's review found that "residential-based agricultural education is under huge threat across Australia and... is clearly unsustainable in central western Queensland."

The state government has established a project management office led by industry experts Charles Burke and Alison Mobbs to identify future opportunities for the pastoral college facilities.

Mr Burke, a former chief executive of peak industry body AgForce, has stressed that the office's brief is not as a liquidator or a receiver, but rather to re-purpose the college facilities for the long-term.

"We are going to create a process to transform the existing assets of the colleges, transforming them into something that is relevant and financially sustainable in the future," Mr Burke told last month's WQLGA conference.

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