In 2006 and 2008, Barnaby Joyce paid $572,000 for two adjoining blocks of land as revealed by property records.
Mr Joyce and his wife, Natalie, bought the land in the remote area of NSW while they were living in St George in Queensland.
Some of the locals were surprised that he bought the land as they refer to the area as mostly “mongrel country”, reflecting its low productivity compared to prime areas like the Liverpool Plains to the south, reports SMH.
Coincidentally, in 2007, Mr Joyce’s friend and campaign manager John Anderson, was appointed chairman of Eastern Star Gas, the company that co-owned the rights to PEL 428 with a company called Comet Ridge before it was taken over by Santos.
Now, it has been revealed that Santos has renewed plans to explore the area where Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce owns nearly 1000 hectares of grazing land.
But Mr Joyce has said publicly that he had no idea that his property could be explored for CSG until a neighbour alerted him in 2011.
Some are wondering if this was all part of a plan but Mr Joyce said, “No one is working on the prospect of a windfall gain.”
In fact, he claimed that the properties were for sale “and have been for some time, with no buyers in prospect”.
“As I have said to journalists who have asked me about this many times in the past, they are welcome to purchase the properties should they wish to.
“Anyone who has been to the Pilliga knows that these properties could never be classified as ‘prime agricultural land’.”
Despite what Mr Joyce says, Denis Todd, a farmer from nearby Baradine and a Warrumbungle Shire councillor said he recalled a conversation with Mr Joyce at a petrol station in about 2009. “I asked him why did you buy that mongrel country out there, is there going to be a coal mine?” Mr Todd said to FairFax.
According to him, Mr Joyce replied: “The coal’s too deep but there’s plenty of gas.”