Don't buy Cubbie: Heffernan, Xenophon

17 Aug, 2009 02:48 PM

Long time critic of the Cubbie Station operation, Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan, does not believe a government buyout of the massive irrigation property would be an effective use of taxpayers' dollars in addressing the issue of over-allocation in Queensland.

Senator Heffernan joined Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon in today calling for an urgent Senate inquiry into how the Government should respond to the opportunity presented by Cubbie Station being placed on the market.

The Cubbie Group of properties in South West Queensland total more than 93,329 hectares and include 538,800 megalitres of water storage infrastructure.

The three properties are together on the market, and have been valued at $450 million.

The volume of water available to the cotton property has long made it a target of the anger of southern irrigators and environmentalists, who believe the levels of extraction are unsustainable and are harming the Darling River system.

The Queensland Government was foiled in its 2002 attempt to buy out the property, and Senators Heffernan and Xenophon believe a buy out is still the wrong option.

Instead, they believe Queensland's irrigation allocation system needs to be overhauled to be put on a sustainable footing.

This follows on from Senator Xenophon's call last week for the Federal Government to assume full responsibility for the Murray Darling Basin, removing any influence from State Government's with vested interests.

Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce says if the Government buy Cubbie's water, then it should also buy all of Dirranbandi, the small rural community which has Cubbie as its economic lifeblood.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert agreed with Senators Heffernan and Xenophon that the sale of Cubbie should also provoke a wider look at Australia's water laws.

"A Federal purchase of the property would only serve to reward the bad behaviour of the owners, who have long exploited Queensland's inadequate approach to water management, intercepting floodplain flows and depriving other farmers and the environment downstream," Senator Siewert said this afternoon.

The Greens believe that a complete overhaul of Queensland’s water regulations is needed before any Federal buy-up should take place.

"This problem highlights the need for a consistent national approach to water regulation. While States committed to deliver such reforms under the National Water Initiative decades later they have failed to deliver – making it necessary for stronger action from the Commonwealth.

"It would be pointless for the Federal Government to fork out hundreds of millions of dollars to buy this property, when there is little to stop someone building another Cubbie Station a few kilometres upstream or downstream and grabbing all the water."

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18/08/2009 8:44:52 AM

How could you take any notice of this pair!
18/08/2009 9:58:17 AM

Another buyup of bankrupts' water to keep the old boys network alive. Let the bank call in their loans then auction the water at its real value. Otherwise it will turn into another Tandou where the taxpayers save the company & get stuff all real water in return. Cubbie water, when they get it, if not used just goes down the Darling & gets sucked out by other farmers or juggled in Menindee to ensure control doesn't revert from NSW to the Feds. None will see environment.
18/08/2009 10:10:30 AM

So why doesn't the federal government get serious about the Queensland situation? Not only do the QLD Govt allow the situation in Cubbie to exist, they are now planning to stop the flow on the Cooper. Maybe SA needs to declare civil war aginst QLD?? Maybe someone might wake up and do something then. However I doubt that any politicians federal or state have the will to make the hard decisions for all Australians.
Ian Mott
18/08/2009 12:51:48 PM

The current owners of Cubbie would do all Qld farmers a big favour if they subdivided the property into 50 smaller holdings, each with part ownership of the water management unit, so it would be no different to the existing irrigated schemes in NSW, Vic and SA. The only red flag issue was its size as a single entity so if it were to reinvent itself as a producer co-operative with normal, title based shareholding it would pull the rug from under all the hypocritical downstream irrigators who are essentially in the same boat. Who knows, 50 sales of $9 million each might be an easier ask than one sale at $450 million. And the current economies of scale would be maintained under the co-op system. Worth looking into, don't you think?
18/08/2009 6:54:46 PM

Damming a waterway to those below you was forbidden until Cubbie Station came on the scene and got so greedy they took everything. Surely it's time that the State Government gazetted that the purchase of this property meant that those downstream were not put in jeopardy by the amount of water given to Cubbie Station. That there was a reasonable flow continuing past for the farming community to at least have water for their personal use, and the environmental flow. If Mr Bracks as Premier of Victoria could take the water from Lake Eppalock and cause it to be almost bone dry then surely Ms Bligh as Premier of Queensland can gazette that those downstream of Cubbie Station must have water for at least their own personal use instead of looking for water from a bone dry river as many do.
19/08/2009 8:04:33 PM

Buy Cubbie Station - At least it's a start!


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Dream on Sam, the problem is we are running furthur and furthur away from the consumer. The
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It is also imperative that individual regional elections only involve members from that the
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Well Said Mathew, On our place before we could ever have a wireless internet system, we would