THE Queensland Government has awarded tenders for the Longreach Pastoral College, with a consortium made up of 10 large pastoral companies missing out and the facility split up between three separate tenderers.
Since the controversial closure of the facility in 2019 the Qld Government has made two attempts at selling the facility, which includes 17, 511ha (43,000 acres) of land aggregated in the area. In 2021 it approached the Longreach Regional Council and in December last year it launched a tender process, which has resulted in a sale.
Led by the AAM investment group, a consortium of companies including Australian Country Choice, Cleveland Ag, Consolidated Pastoral Co, The Curr Family, Georgina Pastoral, McDonald Holdings, Mort & Co and the North Australian Pastoral Co made a highly publicised bid for the aggregation in February. The plan was to take control of the facility and let others run it.
Instead the Government has sold it in three separate configurations:
- All land south of the Landsborough Highway (campus and grazing land)
- Grazing land north of the Landsborough Highway.
- Improved farming land adjacent to the Thomson River.
A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries said the combine sale sale price was $12.4 million which exceeded independent market valuations. The spokesperson said 17 tenders were received however a number did not conform with the requirements of the process.
“The buyers and prices paid for the individual parcels of land remain commercial-in-confidence until expected settlement in late May,” the spokesperson said.
“The Queensland Government made a commitment that the tender process would consider both the price offered and the proposed community benefit for Longreach and the wider region.
“The exact nature of the proposed community benefits is still subject to commercial-in-confidence requirements until settlement, however the Government expects the successful bidders will deliver on the commitments to the community that they have made through the tender process, including increased jobs and economic activity through tourism, horticulture, education and training, and livestock production activities.”
“An opportunity lost”, AAM expresses deep disappointment
AAM Investment Group (AAM) has expressed its deep disappointment at the outcome of the tender process to acquire the former Longreach Pastoral College site.
The consortium’s proposal included a commitment to explore all options to ensure the College facilities and associated assets, became a trusted source of knowledge sharing and education services to the Northern Australian farm sector and one that enriched local communities.
AAM managing director and CEO, Garry Edwards, said the Queensland Government’s decision was an opportunity lost.
“In preparation of the tender options direct consultation was undertaken with a broad demographic of stakeholders to ensure what was being proposed would meet the needs of industry and the local community. Additionally, over 3300 individuals and organisations signed a letter of support of our proposal showing the importance of this opportunity,” Mr Edwards said.
“While we respect the Government’s right to make this decision as the owner of the asset, it is tremendously disappointing that no one assessing the tenders reached out or engaged in a single discussion or meeting relating to the consortium’s multiple concepts for highly effective and beneficial ways the site could be utilised.
“I personally think it was incredibly poor judgement they could not find the time to meet and hold any form of discussion when this is such an important issue for the agricultural industry and regional Queensland.”
Mr Edwards said the workforce needs of agriculture are changing and evolving as industry becomes more focused on precision management and understanding and communicating sustainability outcomes and regenerative agriculture.
“This was a generationally significant opportunity for the Qld Government to meet the growing requirements to support career development, research, and the future prosperity of our industry, as well as improving the economic resilience of regional communities.
“It is my sincere hope that the successful tender applicants will be motivated to deliver such positive results for regional Queensland, and we wish them all the best in delivering outcomes with greater community benefit than those proposed by this consortium.”
Wow, the Dept of Ag thinks it’s done well to exceed the valuation in the tender process. They’ll probably waste that in an afternoon whereas a well functioning education centre could have benefited the community for generations. I look forward to seeing the details of the community benefits from the winning tender.
After the AAM consortium bid was made public back in February, we should all be disappointed that any other parties placed any tenders.
This is very likely a huge missed opportunity for the Agricultural industry in Qld, Australia and internationally. I only hope I’m wrong.
The high profile consortium members would have almost guaranteed that a leading edge educational facility would have emerged from the ashes. Instead we are likely to see 3 individual agricultural operations run their own show, with less benefit to the Ag industry and community than was otherwise likely.
In fact I would go further and say that this Labor Government, if they had the Ag industries best interests at heart, should have pulled the tender process and done a deal with the consortium.
Typical government, always blind to the obvious.
I hope the new owners put it to good use for industry just as AAM’s investors intended to.. Gary lead a great example of Pastoral companies showing leadership and social responsibility for what is good for people’s careers and agriculture in general,
Here here… Well said. One hopes the purchasers have a sense of community and wellbeing of the region as the corner stone of their ambitions.