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Senator Joyce slams Cubbie Station deal

SHADY DEAL: Senator Barnaby Joyce says there is something "peculiar" about the Cubbie Station sale and that Australians want to know the full story.
SHADY DEAL: Senator Barnaby Joyce says there is something "peculiar" about the Cubbie Station sale and that Australians want to know the full story. Lyndon Keane

THE revelation that an Australian bid for Cubbie Station was unable to access financial records proves some offers were not taken seriously by administrators, according to Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce.

The outspoken senator's comments followed the extraordinary admission that the Foreign Investment Review Board was aware that a bidder "couldn't access the books" during due diligence.

"It proves definitively that there were other bids and they weren't properly scoped," Senator Joyce said on Friday.

"There's something more to the story...they get angry when you ask."

In a heated Senate estimates hearing last week, FIRB official Samantha Reinhardt admitted Treasury was aware of the issues experienced by the Australian bidders.

"We were aware of a bidder who said they weren't able to access the books...we were reassured that there wasn't someone, a viable Australian bidder, that was being blocked from pursuing their bid," she said.

A source close to the Dirranbandi enterprise said they believed the revelation proved a sale to a Chinese-based entity - like Shandong RuYi, which is set to own 80 percent of Cubbie Station - was always the goal.

"The Australian bidders couldn't even get a look at the books; the administrator and banks weren't interested," they said.

"As far as I'm concerned, Cubbie (Station) was always going to be sold to the Chinese."

When asked by the Balonne Beacon whether he believed Cubbie Station represented "a 93,000-hectare gift" to foster relations with China, Senator Joyce would not be drawn into speculation.

"They're your words, not mine," he said.

Despite the sale agreement, strong public opposition continues and Senator Joyce likened the lack of transparency from the Federal Government and the administrator to a game of ducks and drakes.

"It's peculiar, shady," Senator Joyce said.

"There's been almost a clandestine approach (to the sale)."

A spokesman for administrators McGrathNicol again refused to shed any light on the sale that has divided a nation.

Topics:  barnaby joyce cubbie station dirranbandi foreign investment review board politics



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