FEDERAL water resources minister David Littleproud will be a notable no-show at the next rally of disgruntled southern basin irrigators at Tocumwal on Thursday.
He confirmed on a visit to Lake Hume on Tuesday he will be honouring a previous engagement in far north Queensland and member for Farrer Sussan Ley will also be an apology.
Mr Littleproud was joined on the border by Murray-Darling Basin Authority executive director Andrew Reynolds and Murray-Darling Inspector-General Mick Keelty with the visit coinciding with the announcement of a $6 million investment into a Waterflow app which will reveal to irrigators which brokers are selling water products.
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The Tocumwal rally involves key lobby groups including Southern Riverina Irrigators and Speak Up Campaign, which were also involved in a similar event in Albury in the lead-up to the federal election in May.
"I respect the fact people want to protest," Mr Littleproud said.
"But the reality is I am more than happy to sit down as I did yesterday with interest groups and to talk it out.
"Yelling and screaming doesn't help, but you've got to be honest and tell people the truth."
He said he understood the frustration.
"This is not a perfect plan and I've never said it is," he said.
"But if people want to pause the plan, what are you pausing it for?
"Are you pausing it until the other mob (Labor) get in, just look at what they were promising at the last election.
"We have an opportunity to complete the last 20 per cent of this plan, not with buybacks, not with a blunt instrument that destroys communities, but with smarts of the 21st century."
Mr Littleproud said the instigation of the ACCC review into MDB water markets and an independent assessment of social and economic conditions in basin communities were evidence he was listening to concerns of irrigators.
"There is no one silver bullet to this basin plan in terms of the here and now apart from rain," he said.
Mr Keelty issued a plea for calm.
"We have behind us the vision of our forefathers to build a dam and spend a lot of money," he said.
"No doubt there were protests.
"The emotion in this is quite extraordinary.
"Personalising the protests is not a good way forward.
"We've just been through a NSW election in March this year where the water minister was under police protection during the election campaign."
A spokesman for Ms Ley said she was invited to attend the Tocumwal rally a fortnight ago, but the date conflicted with a long-standing engagement in Canberra.