QLD: Cubbie expansion sparks Murray-Darling fears


Posted Sat Jun 28, 2008 1:44pm AEST
The Murray-Darling River from the air

The Murray-Darling River from the air

Environmentalists say plans to expand Cubbie Station to grow food crops will affect the Murray-Darling (pictured). (File photo)

The nation's biggest and best known cotton farm, Cubbie Station, polarises opinion like no other agricultural operation.

And that could be exacerbated by the latest news from the Cubbie Group's chairman Keith De Lacy who has announced plans to expand to grow food crops.

"We think there's a revolution coming in the soft commodity markets and we're looking to expand and to grow," he said.

Mr de Lacy, also a former Queensland Treasurer, wants to capitalise on world food shortages and high prices.

He says Cubbie is diversifying into grain and wheat on its southern Queensland properties and may rely on foreign investors to raise up to $200 million to fund the expansion.

"We are looking to raise some capital and there is a lot of interest offshore," he said.......

Such an investment would require the approval of the Foreign Investment Review Board, however the news from Australia's largest privately owned irrigation layout, worries the lobby group, Fair Water Use......

"One has to be fairly confident that if the money is forthcoming, that the amount of cotton they grow will increase and that has to have a direct and a very negative impact on the Murray-Darling Basin as a whole," he said.