QATC wind-up process blasted

Absence of information no help at pastoral college ending

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An appalling disregard for loyal staff is one of a number of accusations Longreach's Rosemary Champion has levelled at the state government as the closure of agricultural training venues at Emerald and Longreach becomes imminent.

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Rosemary Champion, right, with then-Longreach Pastoral College board chairman Richard Pietsch, cutting the 50th anniversary cake at the start of the 2017 college year.

Rosemary Champion, right, with then-Longreach Pastoral College board chairman Richard Pietsch, cutting the 50th anniversary cake at the start of the 2017 college year.

An appalling disregard for loyal staff is one of a number of accusations Longreach's Rosemary Champion has levelled at the state government ahead of the closure of the Emerald and Longreach agricultural training venues on Friday.

An irate Ms Champion, whose father Sir James Walker helped found the Longreach Pastoral College, said people who had given many years of service deserved better than walking out the door with barely a nod.

"They've coped with all the uncertainty this year, all the winding down protocols, without any complaint," she said.

"People in offices are making decisions about animals they've cared for, without any regard for them, or any thanks.

"At the same time, it's been terribly dragged out - it could have been done so much better."

Related: Longreach Pastoral College turns 50

Ms Champion questioned the management plan for the 31 brood mares remaining at the Longreach campus and the 56 horses at Emerald after the December 6 closure.

She also called for an assurance from Agriculture Minister Mark Furner that hay grown and stored by the college would not be sold to a corporate entity or removed from the district, as was rumoured.

Instead, she urged the government to distribute it to drought-stricken graziers and people feeding pony club ponies as a gesture of goodwill.

In response, Mr Furner said at this stage, no hay had been identified as surplus to requirements.

The original plan was to move all horses to Emerald, along with the hay to feed them, until a decision is made about how many would be required to support potential future courses.

After protestations from the Longreach community stakeholder committee, the horses and hay will remain where they are, to be supervised by Department of Agriculture staff.

All cattle associated with the Emerald campus have been sold, but operational vehicles critical to managing the QATC sites have been retained and are still registered.

According to the November Project Management Office communique, it is surplus plant and equipment in the satellite hubs at Walkamin, Ayr, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Toowoomba and Dalby, not required by other government agencies or the publicly-owned registered training organisation, TAFE Queensland, that will be offered at clearing sales as part of the wind-up process.

Mr Furner said staff were being recognised with service award certificates.

"I have every confidence that the Project Management Office has handled the transition of the QATC facilities appropriately," he said.

"In accordance with our announcement in January, all QATC students have now finished their studies or transferred to other training providers.

"Negotiations are proceeding with alternative occupants of the Emerald and Longreach facilities."

Read more: Future of ag colleges remains unclear

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