4 Sep 2012

Cotton farm sale approved by Australian govt

1:53 pm on 4 September 2012

The Australian government has approved the sale of Cubbie Station, a giant cotton farm in southern Queensland, to a consortium of Chinese and Japanese investors.

Treasurer Wayne Swan announced approval late on Friday of the purchase of an 80% stake in Cubbie Station, which covers almost 1000 square km, by Shandong Ruyi.

The 93,000-hectare property has been in administration since 2009 with more than $A300 million of debts.

Mr Swan says the consortium plans to reduce its stake to 51% in five years.

National Party MP Barnaby Joyce says the government's approval for the sale is a disgrace and not in the national interest.

However, Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said Senator Joyce does not speak on behalf of the Coalition on issues relating to foreign investment.

Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne on Monday said he was "comfortable" with the sale, given it had been approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Cubbie Station produces about 10% of Australia's cotton output.

The ABC reports China is seeking to increase food security by encouraging companies to expand overseas.

The Shanghai Zhongfu Group is eyeing agricultural developments in the remote northwest.