Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has granted Cubbie Station's foreign owners more time to sell off part of the 96,000 hectare property.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has granted Cubbie Station's foreign owners more time to sell off part of the 96,000 hectare property. Contributed

Chinese owners granted more time to sell 96,000 hectare farm

THE local contribution of Australia's largest cotton farm has been heralded, after the foreign owners of Cubbie Station were granted an extension to sell off part of the 96,000-hectare property.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last week granted Chinese textiles and clothing company Shandong Ruyi more time to sell part of the station, four years after the conglomerate was first required to reduce its stake.

In 2012, Cubbie Station was bought by Shandong Ruyi for about $250 million on the condition set by then-treasurer Wayne Swan that the group would reduce its ownership from 80 per cent to 51 per cent by October 2015.

In mid-2016, Scott Morrison, the then treasurer, granted the company a three year-extension to July 1, 2019.

Mr Frydenberg announced another extension last week. An Australian treasury spokesman told The Beacon Shandong Ruyi had advised the government it was close to finalising the sale.

"Shandong Ruyi has advised the government that it is currently in advanced negotiations to sell down its interest in Cubbie in accordance with its obligations," a treasury spokesman said.

"The Government will not comment further, due to commercial confidentiality and privacy law requirements."

Balonne Shire Council CEO Matthew Migan said no matter what happened with the ownership of the station, the contribution made to surrounding towns was something to celebrate.

"Cubbie has been a great asset to our shire - the ownership is all tied up with foreign investment review boards and government decisions, so we have no control over that," he said.

"Cubbie have been great corporate citizens and made great contributions to our communities. If it is sold on, we hope that whoever does take over is as good a corporate citizen.

"From general support through the community, to employing so many local people, spending money locally, making donations and sponsoring so many local clubs and events, they're great people. They have assimilated well into our community."

Mr Migan said he also believed Cubbie had held its own, despite the spread of misinformation. "Despite all the misinformation, they don't have any water and they haven't had for a very long time," Mr Migan said.

"They are very transparent, and it's a shame they've been maligned."