"A KICK in the guts".
That is how the passing of changes to the Water Bill successfully went through Federal Parliament on Thursday, November 30.
That kick in the guts is said to be felt right across the basin, including in places like Leeton, Griffith, Coleambally and the wider basin region.
National Farmers' Federation president David Jochinke said by the Senate passing the Restoring our Rivers Bill, it had effectively removed the socio economic impact tests for water buybacks.
"The Basin's heart has been broken by a government that has ignored communities and hasn't even bothered to visit those who will be impacted by this dreadful backroom deal," he said.
Former ALP Water Minister Tony Burke knew in 2012 that buybacks caused hardship for communities and so he explicitly ruled them out for the additional 450 GL of water acquisition.
"This government has completely backflipped and ignored their own position, while simultaneously throwing the plan's bipartisan support in the bin."
The Bill now needs to go back to the House of Representatives, where it's expected to pass.
"This will sound the death knell for countless jobs in these communities and will cut food and fibre production in an area that grows 40 per cent of what Australia produces.
"The impacts will be felt by all Australians at the supermarket checkout."
Thirty-three Senators voted to pass the bill, while 26 voted against the changes.
The government holds a majority in the House of Representatives.
National Irrigators' Council chairman Jeremy Morton, said the future of regional Basin communities is being determined by governments not fully across the complex issues surrounding water management.
"There are still unanswered questions around the costs and impacts of this Water Amendment Bill, particularly on Basin communities who have already done their fair share of the Basin Plan heavy lifting," he said.
"(Already) 2100GL of water has been removed from these communities and they are still paying the price for that. Many areas will never recover and will now be targeted again.
"During the debate the government finally recognised there are socio-economic impacts due to water purchases and the bill amendments, meaning they have to now consider this in purchase programs, they could not provide any clarity on the criteria and any actions."
Mr Morton's peers at the NSW Irrigators' Council also expressed dismay at the bill's passing by the Senate.
NSWIC chief executive officer Clair Miller said the Senate had cleared the way for more devastation in basin communities.
"The Senate has cleared the way to buy up to 700 billion litres more water from farmers, on top of 2100 billion litres already recovered," she said.
"The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has attributed more than 3200 jobs lost across 40 southern basin communities to water already recovered for the environment under the Basin Plan and earlier reforms.
"ABARES has documented how that water recovery has substantially increased costs for farmers growing our food and fibre - and how taking more out will make water too expensive too often for most farmers to stay in business.
"Farmers, workers, small business owners and local government across the bhave shouted no to even more buybacks, because they know from bitter past experience how buybacks have hollowed out their communities while governments went missing on promised assistance."
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