'People are losing hope'
A FEDERAL senate candidate has hit out at the Queensland Labor Government's decision to close the Emerald Agricultural College, saying people are "losing hope" about the future of the agricultural industry in the Queensland.
Last week, Katter's Australian Party senate candidate Joy Marriott visited the Central Highlands as part of her "Listening to Queensland" tour.
During her tour, the imminent closure of Emerald and Longreach's agricultural colleges was at the forefront of her mind.
"In Longreach and Emerald, we have the pastoral colleges being closed down," Ms Marriott said.
"That's a big issue not only for training but for those hundreds of jobs you're going to lose.
"A lot of people are losing hope."
Ms Marriott said her party was committed keeping the colleges going.
"I spoke to Robbie Katter again yesterday - we've been talking about it for about six months, since all this nonsense started with the colleges," she said.
"Robbie has given us an ironclad guarantee that he's been talking to the LNP and they will take it (the college closures) to parliament and make a motion to stop any asset sales of college property in Emerald or Longreach, full stop.
"They will take it to the end. They will not allow it.
"They're very solid on that."
Ms Marriott did acknowledge the colleges' current working model could use a little work, however she said they "absolutely" needed to stay open.
"They could possibly be run with more industry involvement to make them a little more relevant and update the curriculum a little bit but essentially they were doing a very good job," she said.
"The feedback that we've got ... (from) the parents and students that were there - they think they're doing a great job and the tutors are excellent.
The problem, Ms Marriot said, was in the Queensland Government's delivery of funding for the colleges.
"The State Government is using the excuse that they (the colleges) are running at a loss," she said.
"Since when is government-funded education about creating a profit?
"When you've got all the floods and the droughts out west ... we really need that next generation back on the land.
"Why not do that training locally?"