The federal government's new water permits were "a slap in the face" to farmers who needed them a year ago, former Farrer independent candidate Kevin Mack said on Friday.
The Albury mayor, who contested the May election unsuccessfully against Farrer MP Sussan Ley, said the Prime Minister's announcement on greater water access for some farmers was reactive.
"He should have done that when they had crops to finish, they can't grow fodder crop now," Mr Mack said.
"If (the government) can do that now, why couldn't they do that 12 months ago?
"They could have done it; what it is, is a slap in the face now.
"It's putting a Band-Aid on a problem that is a gigantic chasm."
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A government spokesman said yesterday the water could only be used for producing hay, silage or pasture, and not crops such as rice or cotton, which could also produce a fodder by-product.
The National Irrigators Council said it was disappointing the permits, which would be $100 a megalitre, left out the horticulture sector.
Mr Mack said his federal campaign's focus on water helped force the government to address the issues.
"If nothing else was achieved from that three-month period, it brought to the national attention that we need to do more about our farmers and our small businesses in regions and our regional footprint," he said.
"The feedback I get from farmers and people down in Farrer is that they were happy that attention was drawn to their plight."
Mr Mack said he wasn't disappointed at all by the financial support his campaign received.
Disclosure returns released this week indicated he received $155,035 from donors, less than the $200,000 reportedly raised by Southern Riverina Irrigators and its chairman Chris Brooks.
"It doesn't mean within the scope of those numbers that there isn't an allowance for in-kind office support and other expenses," Mr Mack said.
"Chris Brooks made a guarantee to the media of the $200,000, it was a target that was probably ambitious.
"But at the end of the day I was happy with the outcome and happy with what the people of Farrer could provide."
- with AAP