Industry peak body AgForce says it is “furious” it wasn’t consulted before the state government decided to shut down Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges.
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner ended months of speculation when he told staff on Wednesday that QATC and its flagship training colleges in Longreach and Emerald would be closed following a review by Professor Peter Coaldrake.
AgForce general president Georgie Somerset said the lack of industry consultation during the review was “shameful”.
“It is shameful that our industry has been roundly ignored by the government and by Prof Peter Coaldrake on this issue, when we have historically been so involved in and connected to the colleges,” she said.
“Minister Furner claims to have consulted more than 70 organisations, so it is perplexing that AgForce was not one of them, especially given our memorandum of understanding with Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges.”
The state government needed to do a better job involving industry in plans for skills and training once QATC was closed, Mrs Somerset said.
“The media release issued by Minister Furner is very short on detail when it comes to what this plan involves, and how they are going to improve educational opportunities available to young people in the bush,” she said.
The Green Shirts rural advocacy group was another organisation to lend its voice to a growing chorus protesting the decision to scrap the QATC.
“This government continues bite the very hand that feeds them,” spokesman Bryson Head said.
“Families across our state are in the midst of a severe drought and fighting bushfires meanwhile they’re struggling to get their kids to school.
“First it’s our health services, now they want to strip our education facilities away as well.”