The Albanese government has the numbers to pass its planned amendments to Murray Darling Basin (MDB) plan laws, with the Greens and independent senator David Pocock pledging their support this week for the reforms in spite of fierce opposition from farmer lobby groups.
The news comes as a blow to both farmer groups and MDB communities that have fought against the proposed changes, primarily the push for more water buybacks, with the NFF labelling the proposed changes 'the worst possible outcome' for the Basin.
The Greens announced their support for the plan on Monday, while crossbencher Sen Pocock pledged his vote, critical to allow the government the numbers to get their plans over the line, today.
Communities through the MDB have been furiously protesting the proposed changes in recent weeks in the lead up to the bill amendments in parliament and are urging the government to slow down the process to allow for adequate consultation.
Tractors rolled through the streets of Shepparton in Victoria, one of the largest centres across the MDB, on Tuesday in reaction to news the government was planning to push through with its tough reforms.
This followed earlier protests in towns through southern NSW such as Deniliquin, Griffith and Leeton.
The National Farmers Federation slammed the government, saying its policies for the MDB were designed to placate urban green-leaning voters rather than achieve the best outcomes for MDB communities.
National Farmers' Federation President David Jochinke said when presented with the choice to listen to communities and negotiate on sensible changes, Minister Plibersek had opted to give rural Australia the cold shoulder.
"This is the worst possible outcome for the Basin Plan," Mr Jochinke said.
"You know the minister has let this process go completely off the rails when you have South Australian Greens dictating water policy," he said.
"The process has become a shambles and the credibility of the Basin Plan has been sold down the river."
"This deal makes it crystal clear the Government is completely out of touch and doesn't give a stuff about communities."
Murray River Group of Councils (MRGC) acting chair Tony Marwood said government needed more consultation with communities across the region.
"We don't understand why the bill is being rushed through the Senate, especially when it is clear that concern about the potential reintroduction of water buybacks is widespread, both geographically and among industries," Cr Marwood said.
He said the MRGC viewpoint was echoed across different parts of the MDB.
"In presenting our concerns to the Senate Committee Inquiry in Canberra on 31 October, our sentiments were echoed by our NSW and Queensland local government counterparts, as well as by agricultural industry and farmer representatives," he said.
He said communities were steadfast in their opposition to buybacks and said there had been dubious demonstration of their benefits.
"It's interesting to note that even the Senate Committee's own report admits that the committee accepts that buybacks will have an impact on communities."
The new deal will push forward for the recovery of 450 gigalitres (GL) of additional environmental water by December 31, 2027 and will give the federal government the power to withdraw state government infrastructure projects that are deemed non-viable.
Government will also be allowed to push for additional water recovery in the northern basin.
Other major points from the deal include tasking the Inspector-General of Water Compliance to undertake an independent audit of the water allocated to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and publishing information about the status of projects and delivery of the 450GL of water for the environment.
Indigenous issues have also been addressed with acknowledgement in the plan of First Nations people's connection, history and water needs and the boosting of funding for the Aboriginal Water Entitlement Program (AWEP) to $100 million, while there will also be mandatory reporting to demonstrate how environmental water holders have considered First Nations values and uses, and involved First Nations in environmental watering decisions