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Going cheap – only $450 million ….

By Paul Walter
Created 22/08/2009 - 13:23

Going cheap – only $450 million ….
by Paul Walter [0]

This week Australians were confronted with another egregious insult to their intelligence, namely the proposed sale of Cubbie Creek cotton station for $450 million, including to the federal government through its water rights buy back taxpayer provided funds.

Senator Bill Heffernan, who whatever his other eccentricities has long term good form concerning agriculture and ecology issues, pointed out the inflated price was arrived at through a misvaluation of the water rights issue to the property, based in part on a potential rather than actual inflow and then future viability, plus the linkage of the property to its water rights so they can't be touched.

The price obtained would, of course, come on top of previous already notoriously undervalued outrageous amounts of water obtained from inflows at what could be describes as peppercorn fees, arranged by successive Nat and Labor state governments since the eighties. The forces behind Cubbie of course conspired, and continue to conspire, to ensure that neither EPA’s nor attempts to charge more realistically for the water were and are always thwarted, while the Bligh governments recent pronouncements on water policy and land clearance maintain the gob-smacking arrogance of Queensland when it comes to the Murray-Darling.

With Cubbie Creek, the results of a corrupt and corrupted process ensured a disastrous hoarding of massive amounts of water in shallow, evaporation-prone storages, with attendant salinisation problems. The allocations were calculated on the basis of maintained water flows over time, before the impacts of climate change began to be observed, otherwise it would have the making s of a good rort, too. But realising there maybe a future crisis and as with the financial crisis having government come along to fund the scam, can't be ruled out completely, at least as to the current propositions.

Hence the lost cotton crops and evaporated water of Cubbie Creek.

Now they want to sell out.

It's about time the convenient yes minister-type arrangements for the Murray-Darling catchment allowing state government interference based on cronyism against genuine reform of resources management, were ended, and a governing body capable of making the changes necessary for that protection were incorporated, as promised in 2007.

We need to hear less from people who've sold their souls, like Barnaby Joyce and former Labor treasurer Lacey (who is the current head honcho of Cubbie), and more from genuine scientists, agronomists, ecologists and economists, for the good of the country and its citizens.

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