Queenslanders will have to keep waiting to know what the transition plans for the Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges looks like.
The Department of Agriculture remains tight-lipped on the progress of the QATC transition project management office, saying only that it had met with shortlisted proponents and held group workshops in Longreach and Emerald to develop options for an operating model for each site.
“Progress in developing potential future operating models will be discussed at this month’s Local Community Stakeholder Committee meetings,” a spokesman said.
The public revisited the angst of the closure announcement when 25 QATC horses were sold above their reserve prices via AuctionsPlus at the end of August.
The highest price paid was $6100 for College Lil Bit of Chisum, a 2015 drop roan gelding registered with the Australian Quarter Horse Association, broken in but still requiring education.
Many of those sold were broodmares in foal to Eskdale West Red Acres, who has won led, ridden, cutouts (24 points) and placed in open and novice drafts.
Some 81 horses, at all five levels of riding skills required to undertake a training program, remain at Emerald and Longreach for potential future use, awaiting news of the model to be adopted when the facilities are repurposed.
An LCSC meeting was held in Longreach on Tuesday and another was scheduled for Emerald on Wednesday, each with a shortlist of six proposals to consider.
They include a mix of education, training, research and community organisations, with considerations of commercial uses.
Remote Area Planning and Development Board chairman Rob Chandler, one of the stakeholders at Longreach, said the last thing people wanted was for cobwebs to grow.
“The QATC is still fully operational to December 6, and it’s ruled by legislation. What that comes with is a lot of process,” he said.
“To the public, I say just keep supporting the idea of a future for the colleges and hopefully there’ll be something to announce within six to eight weeks.
“We just have to march through one step at a time.”
For AgForce president Georgie Somerset, the priority was ensuring a governance structure was in place that reflected industry need in the long-term.
“I don’t think any of us is clear on what the PMO hopes to have in place by the beginning of next year,” she said.
“A lot of work is happening on what might be delivered in the immediate future but AgForce would like to see some sort of governance in place that is community and industry focused.
“We’ve seen things change in 30 years and they will change more in another 30 years – who makes sure we continue to adapt and innovate?”
Cr Chandler put it a similar way, saying RAPAD had put its hand up as soon as the closure announcement happened last December, asking to be part of a transition away from an agriculture college at Longreach, to a college for an agricultural region.
“It’s a different world today, different skill sets are needed, and lots of ideas have been floated.”
Ms Somerset was confident that by January 1, whoever was taking over would try and deliver something to make their project work.
“Hopefully the process will move smoothly enough that those wanting to start, can,” she said.
The QATC website has more information about the transition process.