A multi-billion dollar Singaporean food company is selling 89,000 megalitres of Australian water to a Canadian pension fund.
The mega sale of Australian permanent water rights comes as the country is crippled by one of the worst droughts in its history.
On Tuesday, NSW brought in a complete ban on hoses as part of the toughest water restrictions implemented for more than a decade.
But no such problem existed for food and agriculture giant Olam International, which sold the 89billion litres of permanent water rights for an astonishing $490 million.
The company sold it to an entity associated with the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, one of Canada’s largest pension investment managers, according to Straits Times.
It will use the water to irrigate almond trees, in a business venture likely to draw criticism over foreign ownership of farms and water.
The water rights are in the lower Murray-Darling Basin.
The chairman of the Victorian Farmers Federation’s water council, Richard Anderson, told the Sydney Morning Herald: ‘Really, all you’ve got is a change of ownership, it (the water) has gone from a Singapore-owned company to a Canadian pension fund.
‘It’s a big bulk of water but it’s still being used in agriculture.
‘It’s not as if they’ve just come in as a speculator and said ”we’ll go and buy a big patch of water and we’ll trade it every year”.’
In a separate deal, the same Canadian pension fund has bought 12,000 hectares of almond orchards in Victoria, in a move likely to draw criticism of foreign ownership of farms and water.