Outback council says no deal on buying Longreach Pastoral College

The Longreach Regional Council has turned down an offer from the state government to purchase the Longreach Pastoral College.

Key points:The state-owned ag training facilities were shut in 2019The Longreach Regional Council has declined to buy them, saying it's "not core business"There is strong interest from commercial entities in purchasing its land parcels

The state-owned agricultural training facility was closed by the government in 2019.

In July, the Palaszczuk government invited the council to acquire both the land and the campus, an offer the council has now declined.

"After lengthy and due consideration, council decided that it's not core business," Mayor Tony Rayner said.

"The best future for both the land and the campus is for commercial interests to be able to operate and acquire the land and the campus.

"[They can] invest more money than what council would be able to invest in to the facility to use it for a whole variety of purposes."

Various entities have used parts of the college facilities since it shut, including a local butcher, Telstra, and the Queensland Police Service.

Strong commercial interest in land

The Longreach Pastoral College entrance
The Longreach Pastoral College closed its gates in 2019 after 54 years.(ABC Western Qld: Maddelin McCosker)

The state government will now consider a commercial sale of the college.

A spokesperson for Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the government had "received considerable interest in uses for the site" and was "now considering the next steps".

The campus spans more than 16,000 hectares made up of 25 to 30 separate parcels of land.

Another 10,000ha at Rosebank Station, south of Longreach, is also up for sale, as well as land parcels along the Thomson River.

"I imagine when it goes for commercial sale there will be very solid interest in the land in particular," Cr Rayner said.

He said there was less pronounced interest from investors in buying the ex-college buildings, but accommodation shortages in Longreach could drive up demand.

Unlikely ag training will return

Many have lamented the closure of the college since its doors were shut three years ago, arguing that it leaves young people interested in working in the agricultural and pastoral industries without anywhere to get formal training.

Former board member Rosemary Champion, whose father was involved in starting the facility in the 1960s, is one of them.

Woman with blonde hair, wearing a white top and standing in front of a pastoral college sign
Former board member Rosemary Champion says the college's closure was a "sad day".(ABC Western Qld: Craig Fitzsimmons)

Last ag colleges in Longreach, Emerald close for goodBlack and white image of two men chopping wool while other men watch on.

Staff, students, alumni, and rural industries say a final farewell to agricultural colleges in central Queensland.

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Earlier this year she told the ABC she would like to see the college restored to its original form.

"We've got to train our young people, somewhere, somehow and it's definitely a missed opportunity," Mrs Champion said.

Cr Rayner said he thought it was more likely the campus would be used for short-course agricultural training.

"The facilities are fit for purpose in terms of providing training. After all, that's what they were all built for," he said.

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Posted 9 Nov 20219 Nov 2021Tue 9 Nov 2021 at 2:38am, updated 9 Nov 20219 Nov 2021Tue 9 Nov 2021 at 6:06amShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsApp

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