A CONSORTIUM of pastoral companies looking to gain control of the Longreach Pastoral College in western Queensland has received 3300 letters of support, with the deadline for tenders passing this week.
AAM Investment Group (AAM), along with nine large cattle companies, has put forward a bid to gain control of the college site after it held a public meeting in Longreach last week. The college was closed by the Queensland Government in 2019.
The tender for the site includes the entire 17,511 hectares of land including Rosebank Station adjoining the College site, modern classroom facilities and other practical agricultural infrastructure.
AAM managing director Garry Edwards said the support the group has received proved the importance of the facility.
“The letters have predominately come from people involved in agriculture. But there is several hundred letters from other business, people involved in providing services or people who are needing services in regional Qld, tourism businesses and local governments supporting it.”
The group is proposing to gain control of the college, invest in upgrading the facilities and appoint training organisations to undertake the operations – rather than running it themselves. If successful, the consortium will undertake the activities through the appointment of a management committee and/or board.
“As businesses, we see ourselves being potential users of the facility for our staff and for our people – alongside any other businesses,” Mr Edwards said.
“We are doing this because we believe there is a benefit for Northern Australia and agriculture as a whole to have a higher quality training facility available to companies and students.”
Exploring all options
Mr Edwards said the group was committed to exploring all options to ensure the College became a trusted source of knowledge sharing and education servicing the farm sector and a vibrant facility that enriched local communities.
“We want to help ensure the gap that was left when the College was closed is filled with a facility we believe can be even better than before.” Mr Edwards said.
“Throughout the tender process, which included consultation in Longreach where more than 50 industry stakeholders and members of the Longreach community showed their support, we’ve been heartened to hear the positive response to our proposal and the overwhelming sentiment that Longreach Pastoral College must be retained as a training and educational facility into the future.”
Other valuable uses the AAM-led group would investigate should it be successful include:
- Tertiary learning
- Veterinary studies
- Research and Development, possibly in collaboration with Research and Development corporations and industry bodies
- Tourism activities
- Education for school students who don’t have the chance for exposure to regional Australia or farming activities
- Commercial farming enterprises
- Reliable employment opportunities within the Western Queensland region.
“We see this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to coordinate the practical and strategic skills required to not only revive Longreach Pastoral College, but to also identify new ways to elevate the value the site delivers to the agricultural industry, community and broader Queensland economy,” Mr Edwards said.
“This is a cause both myself and the consortium members are deeply committed to as we genuinely want to make a positive and lasting contribution that will lead to transformation and value for all involved.
“If the bid is successful, we look forward to working closely with the broader agricultural industry and members of the Longreach community to make the campus facilities available to as many people as possible.”
Tender decision to take 60 days
Beef Central contacted the Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and asked how many other tenders were put in for the facility and we are waiting to hear back.
A spokesperson said the department was considering tenders over the next two months.
Tenders for properties associated with the former QATC Longreach campus have now closed.
Tenders will be subject to a rigorous assessment process as outlined in the publicly available tender documents.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries will make a decision on the successful tenderer or tenderers within 60 days.
To ensure transparency, DAF engaged an independent probity advisor to provide support and advice throughout the tender process.
The successful tenderer or tenderers will be announced in due course.
The Department will not comment on the tenders while the assessment process is underway.