Convoy at parliament to protest Basin Plan

Matt Coughlan
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CANBERRA FARMERS PROTEST

Protesters wanting the Murray-Darling Basin Plan scrapped have gathered at Parliament House

More than 1000 angry farmers have demanded the Murray-Darling Basin Plan be scrapped, with a convoy of trucks descending on Parliament House in Canberra.

A delegation met with Water Minister David Littleproud and Environment Minister Sussan Ley to voice their concerns.

A spokesman for Mr Littleproud said communities and farmers were doing it tough right across the basin.

"We respect the protesters. They are passionate and they're doing it tough," the spokesman told AAP.

"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.

"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 on farmers."

Organisers said there were more than 2000 people at the demonstration with 110 trucks.

The protesters want the basin plan fixed or scrapped, more dam infrastructure and other measures like carp control to help improve conditions across the Murray-Darling.

More than 50 people with the protest attended Question Time in the Senate, with one man getting kicked out after labelling the agriculture minister "f***ing useless".

The group stormed out of the chamber after launching a series of verbal volleys at government senators.

Protesters say the plan has devastated regional communities, leaving them without schools, doctors and sporting teams.

The Convoy to Canberra group argue there is water available but government policies were denying farmers access.

Co-organiser and Barooga farmer Carly Marriott, said the basin plan had devastated her community.

"This is affecting every single person in our community, and we might not be the majority but God we're important. And you need us," she told the ABC.

The man responsible for implementing the plan acknowledges it is causing significant economic pain to some farmers around the basin.

Murray-Darling Basin Authority chief executive Phillip Glyde said there was no one the drought hadn't touched, with bushfires, water shortages and native animals feeling the brunt.

"Pausing or ditching the Basin Plan wouldn't turn the taps or pumps on - and it wouldn't alleviate the pain being felt in these communities during drought," he said.

"In these times, remaining committed to restoring the health of the basin is important. When times are tough, available water is stretched and everyone wants more."

He said the "adaptive and flexible" plan was a once in a lifetime opportunity to restore the river system's health for the long-term benefit of communities.

"We are only half-way but we know it's working. There are early signs of healthier rivers," Mr Glyde said.

Their convoy comes as the government progresses plans to provide subsidised water to farmers to grow fodder for livestock.