The Morrison government is facing a test of wills on two rural fronts as angry irrigators call to scrap the Murray Darling Basin Plan and the opposition and crossbench maintain pressure for major dairy industry reform.
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"This rally will be known as the line in the sand," organiser Chris Brooks said.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

About 2000 farmers and their supporters on Monday drove in a convoy from southern NSW and Victorian irrigation districts to Parliament House to demand an end to the basin plan, which they say has stripped their water rights.
Rally organiser and Barooga, NSW irrigator Chris Brooks channelled the anger of many when he said the mostly “conservative” members in the crowd viewed the basin plan as the “most despicable act by any government against Australians”.
“This rally will be known as the line in the sand. No more! We are here to take those rights back,” he said.
The $13 billion basin plan was enacted with support of state and federal governments in 2013 to recover over-allocated irrigation entitlements for the environment. A portion of irrigators’ water rights was bought back from voluntary sellers with Commonwealth funding that was to be used for efficiency measures on farms.
But since then, many irrigators have been pushed to the wall by drought, with two years of zero allocation to general security irrigation licences in NSW, years of very low allocation in Victoria, and sky-high water prices.
Deniliquin, NSW irrigator Jon Gatacre took time out from his busy grain harvest to attend the rally.
Like many farmers, he believes the Murray Darling Basin Authority has mismanaged its water entitlements, releasing too much from upstream dams for South Australia’s Lower Lakes and to flush out the Murray Mouth.
“We’ve been given short shrift by the Murray Darling Basin Authority and [Water Minister] David Littleproud. Enough is enough,” Mr Gatacre said.
Mr Littleproud has said the basin plan will deliver a sustainable balance between irrigation and the environment, arguing water sharing between states is governed by separate legislation under century-old laws.

“Scrapping the basin plan will not add any more water to the basin and will not change the way water is shared between NSW, Victoria and South Australia under the Murray Darling Basin Agreement,” a spokesman for the minister said.
“The reality is if we canned the basin plan, not one extra gigalitre would appear in a dam and a future government could implement a worse plan for farmers.”
On Monday afternoon, the government used its numbers in the Senate to block debate on One Nation’s Protecting Australian Dairy Bill 2019, which would have mandated a floor price for farmers’ milk.
One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts called on Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie to resign, while Labor’s agriculture spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon, said the Nationals had “abandoned” farmers, and a man was ejected from the Senate’s public gallery for heckling Senator McKenzie.
Senator McKenzie says a floor price is counter-productive and fails to address the power imbalance between farmers and processors. She is under pressure to deliver on her promised dairy code, which she says will empower farmers in milk contract negotiations.

The delay in details being issued on the proposed dairy reduction scheme is “playing with the futures” of farm families, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

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