Hope clashed with cynicism when Griffith irrigators came to pin their hopes on "top cop" Mick Keelty, who is running an inquiry into water management along the Murray Darling.
Mr Keelty's hard-nosed stance won cheers from the crowd, however there were some who remained sceptical about whether another inquiry would make any difference to their livelihoods.
One of them was Murrami irrigator Debbie Buller who said Mr Keelty's tough-cop approach was "music" to her ears, but who demanded to know how yet another inquiry would make the government sit up and listen.
"We've been saying exactly what you're saying for a long time now. I think we're up to 43 different reviews and inquiries," Mrs Buller said.
"We agree with you, but how is what you're saying going to be put into place?"
Mr Keelty agreed that communities were suffering from "consultation fatigue", but said there was a mood for political change in the air.
"I think there's a groundswell of communities who say enough is enough," Mr Keelty said.
"We don't want another review, we actually want some action."
Mr Keelty said he was looking at the "low hanging fruit" to get fast, short-term water to irrigation communities that urgently need it.
On his list were suggestions such as freezing South Australia's annual water carryover in times of severe drought, taking the burden of conveyance losses away from irrigators, and cutting dilution flows down the system.
Other items on his wish-list were leveling the playing field between states water allocation rules, looking at compensation for "voluntary" water contributions taken by the state government, scrutinising WaterNSW's conflict of interests, and cutting red tape.
The need for change is urgently felt by SunRice board member Julian Zanatta, who has seen people's livelihoods gutted in the last couple of months.
"We've had to lay off 250 people in the Riverina. That's 250 families here that haven't got an income coming in," Mr Zanatta said.
"Australia is sourcing 1.3 million tons of rice from overseas this year. That's rice that should be growing in the Riverina."
Robert Quodling said it was a serious matter for irrigators who were battling with their mental health.
"This is about our farmers, these brave, brave people who push themselves further and further into debt until finally after battling depression and debt they eventually decide to take their own lives," Mr Quodling said.
"Water mismanagement, in particular the Murray Darling Basin Plan, if you talk to anyone from the front line of farming has a large part to play."
Griffith City Councillor Dino Zappacosta told Mr Keelty that the hopes of MIA irrigators were resting on his shoulders.
"You have a moral obligation to bring to the attention of the minister that the towns of Griffith, Leeton, Coleambally and all the surrounding regions that rely on irrigation through the Burrinjuck Dam are going to hit a wall," Cr Zappacosta said.
"How can we survive on 5-6 per cent general security allocations? We rely on you to go and give them our feeling. It's important, because otherwise we have nowhere to go."
Mr Keelty said he made no promises, but that he'd do what he could.
"I'm not promising you I'm going to solve this; you know it's a lot more complex than that," Mr Keelty said.
"What I do promise you is that I'm listening and I'm looking for ideas and constructive things that might be done more easily than people make them out to be."
If you are suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts you can call Griffith Suicide Prevention and Support Group on 1300 133 911 or Lifeline on 13 11 14