Basin Plan

Barnaby Joyce’s Darling deal on cotton crop irks locals

20 February 2018

Sue Neales, The Australia
20 February 2018

One of Australia’s biggest corporate cotton farms has been quietly gifted a year of free access to large volumes of scarce irrigation water in the northern Murray-Darling Basin under a deal negotiated last year by Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

In a move that has angered ­locals in western NSW, ASX-listed agribusiness Webster — Australia’s largest owner of water entitlements — has been able to grow a $35 million cotton crop this summer on its vast Tandou Farm near Broken Hill using irrigation water from the troubled Darling River.

Yet last June Webster sold Tandou Farm’s full annual water licence of 21,900 megalitres back to the federal government in a controversial buyback deal personally negotiated with Mr Joyce, then federal agriculture and water ­minister.

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