ALP cops crit­i­cism over more cuts to agri­cul­ture

The Morning Bulletin - - NEWS -

THE State Gov­ern­ment is feel­ing the heat fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion to cut vi­tal funds to agri­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion.

Cuts to the School to In­dus­try Part­ner­ship Pro­gram mean this year’s Food, Fi­bre and Agri­cul­tural Ed­u­ca­tors Con­fer­ence event will be the last.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Deb Freck­ling­ton said cut­ting $181,000 from agri­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion was run­ning the in­dus­try into the ground.

“It’s an ab­so­lute dis­grace that La­bor has shut ag col­leges and pulled fund­ing from key ag ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams across the state,” Ms Freck­ling­ton said.

“SIPP is a hands-on ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram that show­cases where food comes from and high­lights agri­cul­tural job op­por­tu­ni­ties to school stu­dents.

“It’s clear La­bor couldn’t care less when it comes to help­ing young Queens­lan­ders make a start in their ag ca­reers.”

LNP agri­cul­ture spokesman Tony Per­rett said the cuts to agri­cul­ture ed­u­ca­tion had caused Queens­land to fall be­hind other states.

“NSW has im­ple­mented com­pul­sory ag classes in high school and Tas­ma­nia has in­vested an ad­di­tional $16 mil­lion into their school farms ini­tia­tive,” Mr Per­rett said.

“The SIPP cut sup­ports La­bor’s anti-farmer agenda and fol­lows the in­tro­duc­tion of the dev­as­tat­ing veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment laws, cuts to biose­cu­rity staff and the fail­ure to de­liver a proper cat­tle tick line re­view.”

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Mark Furner re­sponded by say­ing the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to evolv­ing agri­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion to match the needs of stu­dents.

“Last year, the Premier un­veiled the $7 mil­lion Ru­ral Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence – an agri­cul­ture train­ing hub at TAFE Toowoomba,” he said.

After the gov­ern­ment an­nounced the clo­sure of agri­cul­tural col­leges in Lon­greach and Emer­ald, pres­sure from in­dus­try groups re­sulted in it an­nounc­ing $7 mil­lion to­wards the tran­si­tion process.

“We are also pro­vid­ing an ad­di­tional $3 mil­lion over the next three years for in­dus­try to con­tinue the Ru­ral Jobs and Skills Al­liance and the Queens­land Agri­cul­ture Work­force Net­work,” Mr Furner said.

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