Member for Warren-Blackwood, Terry Redman is dismayed with the Labor McGowan Government proposal to annually raid 20 percent of funds from the Agricultural Education Farm Provisions Trust.
The five WA agricultural colleges – Cunderdin, Denmark, Harvey, Morawa and Narrogin, as well as the Esperance SHS Farm Training Centre each contribute 40 percent of farm revenue to the Trust monthly.
Funds are used for farm development and purchase of farm machinery, licensing and insurance for vehicles and machinery, fencing and other recurrent costs. Additionally, the Trust is used to promote and support agricultural education programs in smaller schools including Mt Barker Community College, Margaret River SHS and Manjimup SHS.
Labor’s plan to annually take 20 per cent of the Trust budget undermines the corporate system put in place to ensure WA Colleges of Agriculture operate independently and are financially autonomous. It puts the whole model of self-sustainability at risk.
“As a former principal of Denmark Agricultural College I am acutely aware of the importance of agricultural education and the long-term benefits to both students and the industry,” Mr Redman said.
“It is madness to disrupt a system that has a high degree of collaboration between colleges, clearly covers a range of costs, and reduces the need to access Government funds for operational or machinery costs.”
Mr Redman said the Colleges had worked hard to build financially sustainable programs that contribute to the Farm Provision Trust budget and this latest money grab diminishes the incentive for them to be profitable.
“It is crystal clear that the McGowan Labor Government has no regard for agricultural education as they have already abolished the Director of Agricultural Education within the Department, and through job cuts have diluted departmental support for the sector.”
“Next they will be wondering why there is limited innovation in the industry, lack of diversification of produce, and a shortage of trained young people working in the agricultural sector,” Mr Redman said.