CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp at the Mackay Ooralea campus. Picture: Zizi Averill
CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp at the Mackay Ooralea campus. Picture: Zizi Averill

TAFE EXPANSION: LNP returns fire with $7.5m pledge

THURSDAY: THREE political parties have now committed to a $7.5 million expansion of the CQUniversity campus, with the LNP announcing its support today.

It comes a day after NQ First leader Jason Costigan said he was backing an upgrade of the heavy vehicle training facilities at Ooralea campus.  

He then challenged his former party to do the same.

State Development Minister Kate Jones announced Labor's commitment last week.

LNP education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said the expansion would support hundreds of local tradies, local businesses and the resources industry.

"Over the past four years the number of heavy auto units being undertaken by Mackay-based apprentices has doubled and we know that as heavy vehicle technology grows, that demand for skills training is only going to increase," Mr Bleijie said.

LNP candidate for Mirani Tracie Newitt said students and employers across the Mackay region would welcome the boost for CQU.

"The LNP recognises just how important our skilled workers will be in ensuring Queensland can meet the demands from our local industries," Ms Newitt said.

"Businesses I've spoken to have said there is a growing shortage of qualified heavy vehicle technicians in the resources sector, which is why I'm delighted that the LNP has listened and will step up to meet the future needs of these job-creating industries.

"The heavy vehicle industry sector is experiencing consistent advances and changes in technology and that requires a new skills, whether it's for autonomous and semi-autonomous guidance systems, telemetry systems or additional safety requirements." 

WEDNESDAY: WHITSUNDAY MP Jason Costigan has challenged his former party to back a $7.5 million expansion of the CQUniversity campus.

The NQ First leader said he was putting his support behind the Ooralea campus expansion of the heavy vehicle training facilities.

Mr Costigan joined the ALP in calling for the centre's expansion today, but pointed out the party that expelled him in 2019 had not matched the funding commitment.

"You can't sit on the fence and get splinters up your cracker," Mr Costigan said.

"Where are they? Hiding in the cane fields?

"Pull your finger out and get on-board."

The NQ First leader and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan and Mirani candidate Jason Borg at the Mackay Ooralea campus. Picture: Zizi Averill
The NQ First leader and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan and Mirani candidate Jason Borg at the Mackay Ooralea campus. Picture: Zizi Averill

Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp said he was delighted another party had backed the CQUniversity expansion plans.

Prof Klomp said the expansion would allow the campus to train an additional 260 graduates every year.

He said this would allow 400 graduates to move into the industry each year.

"It's to make sure we can meet the growing demand," Prof Klomp said.

"It's a workforce that is so desperately required for industry."

Read more:

Three Mackay businesses fail food safety inspections

New rivals to compete for Mackay's industrial lands

$20M Mackay jobs push to build Qld out of COVID slump

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp at the Mackay Ooralea campus. Picture: Zizi Averill
CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp at the Mackay Ooralea campus. Picture: Zizi Averill

If the funding was approved on November 1, Prof Klomp said they could start construction immediately with the expansion complete by the end of 2021.

"But I certainly don't count my chickens before they hatch," he said.

He said the 20 construction jobs would be a much needed "shot in the arm" for Mackay's pandemic hit economy.

Prof Klomp said the additional support of the minor party was a sign of the undercurrent of community support for the project.

"It's a reflection of the mood of the community," he said.

Prof Klomp said the backing of state parties was crucial, after a disappointing federal budget for the universities sector.

"The support from the Federal Government has been fairly limited," he said.

"Money is a bit tight and things are a bit tough in COVID.

"But investing in training is a smart investment."

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp at the Mackay Ooralea campus. Picture: Zizi Averill
CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp at the Mackay Ooralea campus. Picture: Zizi Averill

Subscriber benefits:

Your daily dose of Harry Bruce cartoons

Five ways to get more from your digital subscription

WATCH: Your guide to reading the Daily Mercury online

Prof Klomp said the loss of international student revenues meant CQUniversity was forced to make some tough decisions, including cutting hundreds of staff.

"Because of our regional roots we recognised that you're not going to get a bailout," he said.

"You have to cut your own cloth.

"It's to make sure we survive and limp through COVID."