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Cubbie Station: farewell « Previous | |Next »
October 30, 2009

So Cubbie Station, which sits on the Culgoa River in Queensland, near Dirranbandi, south-west Queensland, (on the border of New South Wales and Queensland) is to be placed in voluntary administration. The National Australia Bank is seeking the urgent repayment of a $320 million mortgage and Cubbie Station cannot pay off its debt. It is not a going concern without decent rains. its liabilities exceeded its assets a year ago, and it had breached its banking covenants.

It is hard to feel sorry for this icon of the way that the states have messed up the management of water in the name of development. The water-guzzling cotton farm has become a sign of all that was, and is, wrong in the way the Murray-Darling Basin has been managed. So there is no mourning for what might have been, as this kind of irrigated agriculture is unsustainable.

It is not Cubbie Station per se that is the problem:---if there was no Cubbie Station the irrigators in NSW would have grabbed all the water flowing down the Darling River (it would activate dormant water licences) from the Culgoa River, leaving nothing for the Basin's rivers and wetlands. That kind of regime is how the states managed water for over a century, and the history that culminates in Cubbie Station shows that you cannot trust the states---any basin state--when it comes to water and development.

The Nationals can jump up and down about the regional communities of Dirranbandi and St George, pray for rain to end the drought, and dream on about irrigated agriculture all they wont. But that won't alter the stark reality that climate change is now impacting on the Murray-Darling Basin, and that the old water development regime is a historical relic in a heated up world. That is what the Nationals and irrigated agriculture industry continue to deny with their talking point about the drought, it breaking, and drought is a normal, natural, cyclic factor of our environment natural cycles.

The reality is that there isn't nearly as much water available as once expected. Relying on, and talking up hope, won't change that. It just shows they out of touch with the real issues in the climate crisis.

The end result of that old water development regime is what you'd expect from examples elsewhere: rivers that no longer flow, dried out wetlands, and lakes that become dustbowls. The states, of course, simple blame one another, and continue to evade all responsibility for the destruction they have individually and collectively wrought in the name of development.

Cubbie Station's bankruptcy still leaves us with the states resisting water reform to ensure that reducing the over allocated water licences that are the cause of the problem. It is not just the Nationals who refuse to accept the need to address the overallocation by reducing water licences--it is the states as well. They are going to retain their command and control water regime and slow down the implementation of a water market which they signed up at CoAG. The Queensland government still plans to transform Cubbie's water allocations into a secure, tradeable licence.

The states have very dirty hands on water management.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:53 AM | | Comments (5)


And good riddance too.
No tears from me.

OK your point that if it hadn't been Cubbie it would have been someone else is perfectly true and Cubbie is, or was [chuckle], only an icon of the problem is perfectly valid.

But I'm still glad to see them go.

Apart from this display of schadenfruede by me let me congratulate you on another good post and also your photos on your other site which I have been checking out.
Keep on truckin' Gary.

which site is that? junk for code or the photoblog Rhizomes1?

Photoblog mainly [but not only] Gary.
Nice photos, interesting eclecticism.
Like the Melaleuca even though it looks a bit unhappy and I'm sure I recognize the buildings with the enclosed overhead connector.

And as a South Australian its nice to see a bit of our state get a mention on the blogsites which are essentially dominated by Vic and the east.
Blogs tend to be pretty parochial in a lot of ways which is a bit sad. I like LP for example but its focus on Qld and the east, although understandable, gets a bit wearing at times.
I read Bob Gosford at Crikey to get some news of the NT, Tassie pops up around the place occasionally but I rarely see anything from WA.

I reckon the blog sites don't really reflect Oz as a nation very well.

Drawing a long bow perhaps but maybe thats one of the difficulties involved in trans state issues like the Murray and even climate change cos it seems that most of the Nats type denialism is coming from the north east area.

Just a few musings.
Anyway I like the photos, keep 'em coming.

you are right about the regional horizons of the blogs. To know about WA you would have to read a WA blog. It is just too difficult to know what is happening from reading the crappy newspapers. It is hard enough here in SA.

I entered the melaleuca image in the DEH art of nature photo competition. We will see how it goes.

Now for Gunns.....