Opposition moves on Cubbie sale

THE Coalition has put a motion before the Parliament in an attempt to present a united front on the divisive issue of foreign investment.

Nationals Leader in the Senate Barnaby Joyce and Liberal Senate Leader Eric Abetz are co-sponsoring the motion, which expresses support for foreign investment while also demanding Treasurer Wayne Swan release his reasons for approving the sale of Cubbie Station to Chinese interests.

The compromise arose from a meeting of shadow cabinet.

Tensions have been building within Coalition ranks for more than a week after Mr Swan, acting on advice from the Foreign Investment Review Board, cleared the way for Cubbie Station to be sold to Chinese textiles company Shandong RuYi Scientific and Technological Group.

Senator Joyce led a chorus of angry Nationals MPs in opposing the decision. This drew a rebuke from a number of senior Liberal Party figures, including shadow treasurer Joe Hockey.

The motion notes there is bipartisan support for foreign investment as long as it is "not contrary to the national interest".

"The Treasurer has failed to explain why the potential sale to a majority foreign-owned consortium of one of Australia's most valuable irrigation properties ... is not contrary to the public interest," the motion reads.

The consortium is 80% owned by Shandong RuYi.

In addition the motion also asks why Mr Swan did not grant interim approval and take an extra 90 days to consider the sale.