THE divide between the city and the bush will only increase if a popular agricultural education program is scrapped in Queensland.
The North Queensland Register and Queensland Country Life this week revealed the State Government would not provide funding for the School to Industry Partnership Program beyond the end of the school year.
The program, facilitated by AgForce was first introduced in Queensland in 2004 and attracted $181,000 in State funding annually.
The State Government admitted funding had not been allocated beyond December, 2018, and the State Opposition has slammed the move.
Townsville based Calvary Christian College agricultural coordinator Murray Hair said the move was hugely disappointing for students across the state.
Mr Hair said government grant money and support was vital to ensure the future viability of agriculture programs for students.
“Without that sort of money being available to help schools with agriculture it makes it hugely difficult to fund agricultural programs in school,” Mr Hair said.
“It’s hugely disappointing that if we don't have access to that, it makes it so much more difficult to run agricultural programs where you introduce young people to farming practices in Australia.
“It’s very concerning particularly with agricultural colleges closing down, where does that leave learning about agriculture and farming in Australia?
”There are very few schools left in Australia that actually offer agricultural programs, and they only do it with government grants and industry support.
“Without that, it’s just another nail in the coffin for the agriculture industry and trying to get young people back on the land.
“If it was an uphill battle before, we are now climbing a cliff.”
Katter’s Australian Party Leader Robbie Katter said the education program cut backs would only heighten the divide between the city and the bush.
“Now is not the time to cut back on educating Queensland children on how their food is grown and where it comes from,” Mr Katter said.
“It is a time for increasing the communication and awareness between the bush and the city.
“It may sound like a drop in ocean to many people but I believe it is important to educating our children and give them an understanding of where the food comes from that mum and dad put on the table for dinner every night.”
Mr Katter said the funding required to run the program, which has attracted $180,000 annually was next to nothing compared to funds being splashed on major projects in the South-East corner.
“The Labor government doesn’t blink at spending $5.5 billion dollars on the cross river rail so people living in Brisbane can get to work a few minutes earlier but they can’t find $180,000 to educate children about where their food comes from?
“I wonder where this ‘anti-regional Queensland’ stance from the Queensland Labor Government is going to end.
“It seems to me they are proactively looking at ways to negatively impact on regional and rural Queensland.’’
Mr Katter said increasing numbers of traditional farming families were leaving the land each year.
“They feel they are being backed into a corner by the Queensland Labor Government,” Mr Katter said.
“It’s just getting harder and harder for families in the regions to deal with ridiculous vegetation clearing laws, battling the drought and threats to live animal exports.”