THE Queensland Government has named the successful tenderers for the former Longreach Pastoral College, with three producers from the local area making the purchases.
Contracts settled this month, with the biggest tender going Peter and Caroline Britton of Brighton Downs Station, near Winton, who purchased the land south of Landsborough Highway, including the campus for $7.6m.
Local tourism operator Richard Kinnon, from Outback Pioneers, purchased the land adjacent to the Thompson River for $1.2m – it has a water license and is likely to grow hay and other commercial crops.
Longreach producers James and Susie Milson purchased the land north of the Landsborough Highway for $3.6m.
Agricultural training has not been ruled out by Longreach Regional Council mayor Tony Raynor, who said it was a community expectation that the facility will be used for some form of training.
“We need to wait for the dust to settle on the purchase because the settlement was only finalised this week and the council want to work with the new owners on making sure it is a successful commercial business,” Cr Raynor said.
A highly publicised bid for the Pastoral College made by 10 large cattle companies, led by the AAM Investment Group, was unsuccessful. It had a clear intention of reinstating agricultural training and received more than 3000 letters of support.
Seventeen tenders were received however a number did not conform with the requirements of the tender process.
Community benefits considered in tender
Agri-Science Queensland executive director Wayne Hall said assessment of the tenders included giving weight to the community benefits offered by each tender.
“The planned activities of the successful tenderers will support jobs and services for the Longreach community,” Mr Hall said.
“The exact timing and nature of those activities are a matter for the successful tenderers.
“Settlement of these contracts means that the Department’s involvement with this site has now come to an end.”
The Qld Government said it considered both the price offered and the proposed community benefit for Longreach and the wider region.
A press release said the community benefits to be delivered by the successful buyers include:
- Tourism operations – growing tourism products and experiences, resulting in greater visitation and economic return for the broader region and communities,
- Recreation of historical Chinese Gardens on the Thomson River – delivering cost effective market garden production servicing local restaurants and community groups, and providing multi-cultural cohesion within an educational horticultural environment,
- Expansion of sheep, cattle and goat production
- Sustainable hay production – locally grown at a cost-effective production for the local and wider community,
- Campus facilities available for re-establishment of a rural training facility,
- Growing local jobs through tourism, education, horticulture and livestock production activities.
AgForce disappointed with the result
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said he was disappointed in the State Government’s decision, particularly as a consortium of 10 large pastoral companies had put in a strong bid to restore the college to its former glory.
“We are bitterly disappointed to hear that the college will not be used as an education facility,” he said.
“We have an industry crying out for a skilled workforce and existing ag education programs that are not adequate.
“It beggars belief that the government would sell this facility to anyone other than someone who wants to use it for the purpose it was intended to be used.
“If this is indeed what has happened then such poor judgement is indicative of a government that cares little for the future of farming. It has quite simply turned its back on agriculture.”
Wally Cooper from RPL Longreach and Geoff Warriner and Chris Holgar from JLL Agribusiness handled the Longreach College sale.