Farmers protesting in Albury over water allocations on Tuesday had claimed "we come in peace", but the rally quickly turned into an angry attack on Sussan Ley.
Although the Farrer MP was not invited, she stood side of stage at QEII Square as Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Chris Brooks and independent candidate Kevin Mack told a 1000-strong crowd that the Murray Darling Basin Plan needed to be paused.
"We just want them to understand that we're doing it pretty tough out west, but we don't get the support and we don't get the leadership," Mr Brooks said.
"We want our water back and we want all parties to know it. We're happy to fight for it."
He said he once helped get Ms Ley elected, but farmers had become "too polite and too complacent" and encouraged the crowd to yell out to the MP and let their feelings be known.
"I hope you hear the message Sussan, we don't really want to hear any more from you," he said.
But Ms Ley took the opportunity to stand in front of the microphone and face the angry crowd, telling them "the real enemy here is Labor".
She was drowned out by boos, abuse and calls of "pause the plan" and "too little, too late" until the microphone was finally switched off as she spoke.
Talking to the media after the rally, Ms Ley said she did not believe the rally was about her.
"It's about the people who have come here distressed and desperate and I understand how they feel," she said.
"Organisers can invite whoever they want, however they are in my town, talking to my people about one of the issues that is closest to my heart and that I care the most about.
"The passion was good to see because it all helps achieve an outcome.
"A lot of what was said here today I agree with."
Ms Ley said not all sections of Farrer wanted to pause the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
"There's quite a few industries in the area where these people farm that don't want to pause the plan. The reason - what do you get after you pause the plan?"
While the rally was about farmers voicing their frustrations over a lack water allocations, it was also an event to support the election campaign of Mr Mack.
"I support your call to pause the plan and establish a royal commission that would review and revise the impacts of the plan on our nation's southern food bowl," he said as he stood on stage.
"I will not be restrained by flawed party policy and I will negotiate positive outcomes for regional people that work for all of us."
Unlike other speakers, he did not address Ms Ley directly.
Mr Mack called on all of Albury to support the farmers, saying that if their earnings and ability to spend were diminished, then other small businesses would suffer.
"Regional Australia is being neglected and the major parties in control of our country have lost sight of what is important to country communities," he said.
"Without water, productive communities become wastelands and people start to feel helpless."
Labor's Farrer candidate Kieran Drabsch was also in the crowd at the rally and backed his party's stance on lifting the 1500GL cap on water buybacks in the Murray Darling Basin, which had angered Border irrigators.
"We need to have full flexibility to recover water the best way," he said.
"We want to innovate, we want to invest and we actually want to support the irrigation community.
"There's a lot of anger out there, but it's being whipped up by individuals like Chris Brooks who wants to use anger to try to create change that's not going to happen."
He said he would help facilitate a meeting between the SRI group and Shadow Water Minister Tony Burke, saying Mr Mack could not make a difference as an independent.
As the rally took place in Albury, Federal Water Resources Minister David Littleproud was making another announcement in Wodonga - but he denied he was trying to avoid the protesters.
"The reality is it's a big country, I can't be everywhere ... We live in a beautiful country and I encourage them to do it peacefully, I respect the concerns they have," he said.
"The easiest thing for me to do is to fly in and tell people what they want to hear.
"I'm going to look them in the eye and say we will not be pausing the plan.
"It's not the perfect plan, but it's the best one we're going to get."
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