Labor’s callous decision to close Queensland’s last remaining agricultural colleges is a hammerblow to the bush, LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said today.
More than 100 people are set to lose their jobs when the colleges at Emerald and Longreach are closed – and a generation of young country people will lose valuable opportunities to forge careers in farming.
Ms Frecklington said it was astonishing that a $23 billion industry that supports 300,000 Queensland jobs would not have a training college in the state under Labor.
“Labor has now closed ag colleges in Burdekin, Dalby, Longreach and Emerald,” Ms Frecklington said.
“This year Queenslanders everywhere came together to support farmers battling the drought – but Annastacia Palaszczuk doesn’t give a damn about the bush.
“The Premier loves to front fund-raising campaigns but her government is piling on more misery for drought-stricken communities.
“Our ag colleges were once the best in the Australia but Labor have been deliberately running them down.
“Labor axed local control of the colleges and they have refused scholarship plans put forward by the industry.
“The colleges have been bound up in red-tape and run incompetently from Brisbane. Now Labor has finally succeeded in killing them off.
“But while our ag colleges are being axed, colleges are booming in other states like New South Wales, Victoria and WA.”
Shadow Agriculture Minister Tony Perrett said the closure of the colleges was a tragedy.
“You would think closing these colleges would be the last thing on Annastacia Palaszczuk’s mind given rural Queensland has the highest unemployment rate in Australia and a chronic skills shortage,” Mr Perrett said.
“We should be doing more to encourage young Queenslanders to stay in the regions, learn a skill and get a decent job.
“My heart also goes out to all of the QATC staff going who are now facing an uncertain future right before Christmas.
Ms Frecklington said the Coaldrake Report was an exercise in privatisation by stealth.
“The answer isn’t closure, the answer is making sure the model is right for student needs in the 21st century,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Today’s decision is on the back of axed the School to Industry Partnership Program and Labor’s anti-farmer vegetation laws.
“Labor is betraying the bush and Mark Furner is now officially Australia’s worst Agriculture Minister.”
LNP Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar said the news was a devastating blow to the Longreach and Emerald communities.
“Closing these colleges is more proof that Labor does not rule for the regions and doesn’t care about struggling rural communities,” Mr Millar said.
“These communities will be devastated by this decision and I urge them to fight this with me.”