Col­lege wind-down con­tin­ues

State Govt push­ing on with clo­sure

The Western Star - - NEWS RURAL - Jorja McDon­nell jorja.mcdon­[email protected]­ern­

A TRAN­SI­TION team will be ap­pointed by the State Govern­ment to over­see the clo­sure of Queens­land Agri­cul­tural Train­ing Col­leges in Emer­ald and Lon­greach.

Three po­si­tions, which have been ad­ver­tised online, will make up half a group called the Project Man­age­ment Of­fice, a team of six which is ex­pected to be op­er­a­tional in a mat­ter of weeks.

“Our in­ten­tion is for the PMO to be op­er­a­tional in the com­ing weeks, which is why we are cur­rently ad­ver­tis­ing for a di­rec­tor and two li­ai­son of­fi­cers,” Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Mark Furner said.

“These are full-time po­si­tions with the di­rec­tor to be based in Lon­greach and the li­ai­son of­fi­cers to be based in Lon­greach and Emer­ald.

“Ap­pli­ca­tions are now open on the Queens­land Govern­ment’s Smart Jobs web­site and close on Fri­day, Jan­uary 18, 2019,” he said.

The de­scrip­tion of the roles is to fa­cil­i­tate a process of con­sul­ta­tion, lead­ing to the tran­si­tion of QATC stu­dents, staff and fa­cil­i­ties in the next 12 months.

The Min­is­ter’s of­fice has said the staff – two li­ai­son of­fi­cers and a di­rec­tor – would “rein­vig­o­rate vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing and skilling in the state’s cen­tral west”.

While the of­fice and the po­si­tions were an­nounced ear­lier this week, the in­dus­try body for agri­cul­ture, AgForce, has said it is still in the dark about the state govern­ment’s de­ci­sions.

Last year, the in­dus­try body formed a steer­ing com­mit­tee to de­velop a plan to save the col­leges.

At the time of for­ma­tion in late De­cem­ber, AgForce pres­i­dent Ge­orgie Som­er­set said the in­dus­try could do bet­ter than govern­ment here.

“We plan to be­gin work on this pro­posal as a pri­or­ity in 2019 and present it to the Min­is­ter be­fore the end of the sec­ond aca­demic term, giv­ing com­mu­ni­ties and in­dus­try the op­por­tu­nity to be in­volved and the Govern­ment suf­fi­cient time to con­sider our pro­posal and to keep the col­leges open in 2020.

“We aren’t ask­ing Min­is­ter Furner for favours, but we are 100% cer­tain that, when the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties come to­gether, we will de­velop a plan that is fi­nan­cially sound and sus­tain­able,” Ms Som­er­set said.

For stu­dents due to start at the school this year, there is some hope.

Is­abella Brown­lie, whose story ran in The Western

Star on De­cem­ber 21, may still be able to at­tend the equine pro­gram for 2019, ac­cord­ing to her mother Ann Brown­lie.

“Noth­ing is of­fi­cial as yet, but it looks like Is­abella’s horse course is go­ing to go ahead.

“It’s still very sad that both fa­cil­i­ties are go­ing to close at the end of the year,” she said.

Mr Furner said the state govern­ment was al­ready in dis­cus­sions with train­ing providers and com­mer­cial in­ter­ests to re-use col­lege in­fra­struc­ture.

THE END: De­spite ef­forts from in­dus­try, the state govern­ment will move for­ward on clos­ing Queens­land’s Ag Col­leges.

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