Water is too important to the future of regional towns and Australia's food stability to be so severely mismanaged, Can the Plan advocates told politicians on Monday.
More than 2000 irrigators and supporters demanding change to the Murray Darling Basin Plan travelled to the doors of Parliament in the Convoy to Canberra.
Speak Up 4 Water chair and former Deniliquin rice farmer Shelley Scoullar said the crowd was determined to be heard.
Tocumwal's Hayden White said farmers were protesting because if they didn't, they would soon have to sell and leave their farms.
"The communities are hurting, the farmers are hurting - everyone that feeds off the system is," he said.
"We're watching the river run absolutely full bore, bank to bank running down to South Australia and we're not allowed to touch a drop of it."
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Mr White said the plan needed to be paused and reviewed, and the government needed to work with farmers on a replacement that balanced the needs of the environment as well as farmers.
State politicians member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty, member for Murray Helen Dalton and member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed were among those who joined the crowd to speak in support of overhauling the basin plan.
Ms Dalton said the management of the plan was killing rural communities.
"Our country towns are dying and people are losing their livelihood for no reason at all," she said.
"It's got nothing to do with the drought, it's got everything to do with the dreadful water management."
Ms Dalton said the need for change wasn't just about water, but about the flow-on effects to communities.
"We lose our water, we lose our jobs," she said. "Our schools and hospitals get downgraded, our kids move to bigger cities, the future of regional NSW is at stake."
Ms Sheed said water should be used on the land, not as a commodity.
"They know the harm they're causing but they're still proceeding," she said.
"We've got the dairy industry on its knees in Northern Victoria.
"In 2003 we had 3000 dairy farmers, at the beginning of this year we had 1000 - we reckon we've lost another 200 just this year."
Ms Sheed noted last week was the 100th anniversary of the first sod being turned in the construction of the Hume Dam.
"It was built to ensure we were drought proofed," she said.
"Now there's a lot of water in the dams, the rivers are running, and running high but there's no water for our farmers."
At the same time as the rally, a man was thrown out of the Senate's public gallery for hurling abuse at Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie.
The man yelled "F***ing useless!" at Senator McKenzie during Question Time on Monday amid calls from angry farmers to ditch the basin plan. He was swiftly escorted from the chamber.
A group of about 50 people cheered and applauded after One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts asked Senator McKenzie whether she would resign over her "failure" to help agriculture.
"No, Senator Roberts, I won't be resigning," she said.
Environment Minister and member for Farrer Sussan Ley and Water Minister David Littleproud agreed to meet a delegation from the convoy.
- with The Canberra Times