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MP targets Cubbie

Friday, 1st February, 2019

Mildura MP Ali Cupper Mildura MP Ali Cupper

By Emily McInerney

An independent Mildura MP claims Cubbie Station comments about water are “misleading”.

Mildura MP Ali Cupper has provided a three-point plan to save the Murray Darling basin, which includes closing Cubbie Station to save Menindee, banning flood plain harvesting and moving to develop arid-climate crop growth.

In the company’s January update on their website, they revealed that the last time they harvested water was in April 2017.

“At that time Cubbie Station diverted 14 GL of the 156 GL that passed through St George. Over 2GL of Cubbie Station’s river entitlement was left in the river to assist downstream users,” the report states.

“In March 2018 there was a water harvesting event where Cubbie Station was authorised to divert 3GL.

“Cubbie Station voluntarily diverted no water therefore leaving it all in the river system for downstream users.”

According to the update, Cubbie Station’s water rights are structured such that high flow flood events provide the majority of water diverted onto Cubbie Station.

“Cubbie Station’s average entitlement is 0.25 of 1 per cent of the total average Murray flow.

“At all times Cubbie has managed its water rights in compliance with its authorised water licenses, the Murray Darling Basin Plan and government policy.

They also make a point of saying there won’t be a harvest in 2019.

“No cotton or summer crops will be harvested at Cubbie Station in 2019.”

The update also states that fertilisers or chemicals used on their cotton farming doesn’t enter any natural water courses, as Cubbie Station is fully bunded.

But Ms Cupper yesterday said the cotton grower’s “comments are misleading.”

“The issue is how much water they are entitled to take when floods come through.

“It becomes a huge free-for-all and they rack up huge entitlements and hold back vast quantities of water when times are good.

“This has a severe impact downstream.”

Ms Cupper said the comments “skew the true picture”.

“I am conscious of the fact that if Cubbie was to close, it would need to be accompanied by complimentary reforms in NSW.

“The NSW Government needs to come to the party with the sale of the biggest water license in the Southern Hemisphere.

“That water would keep communities alive and would need to be off limits for farming entities.”

Ms Cupper was in Menindee yesterday to meet with the Cross Border Commissioner and also met with deputy premier John Barilaro.

She said Menindee locals needed a guarantee of good quality drinking water.

“The NSW Government should be bringing water in with tankers, if they really wanted to do it - they could be here by tomorrow.

“Menindee is the canary in the coal mine in terms of management.

“The health of the river will impact on most of the country.

“My concern as a Victorian MP, is after the mismanagement of Menindee Lakes, Mildura will be next.”

She said during her trip; the general consensus from Menindee locals was that they would like to see a “federalisation” of the issue.

“They would support the Common-wealth have all the power instead of states,” she said.

“The deputy premier tacitly acknowledged that before backpedalling a bit later on.

“It’s not a perfect solution but something different needs to be done.

“This way there would be a clear line of accountability.”

Cubbie Station was contacted for comment.

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