Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has rejected fresh calls from a senior coalition figure for a royal commission into water management.
Nationals leader Michael McCormack has dismissed fresh calls for a royal commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan from a former Howard government minister.
South Australian Liberal and ex-cabinet minister Amanda Vanstone wants a major inquiry into Australia's water systems with a focus on the basin.
The deputy prime minister said southern NSW irrigators were watching water flow past their farms to fulfil environmental outcomes in SA.
"You're never going to get 100 per cent agreement on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan," Mr McCormack told AAP on Saturday.
He said the basin plan was an environmental document, but farming communities needed to be protected to help them produce world-leading food and fibre.
"We need to make sure that we don't cruel our farmers because even Greenies like to eat," he said.
"Even those people who have got no understanding of the drought, the impacts of the drought or the fact that our farmers are doing it tough."
Mr McCormack said while blame was being thrown at NSW farmers, including the cotton industry, making wholesale changes to the plan would be a mistake.
"To put that back into the parliament would be to open it up to (Greens MP) Adam Bandt and the Greenie cronies to want even more water taken out of the system," he said.
Ms Vanstone told The Advertiser she would be happy to see a royal commission, and that it was needed to get the water system for Australia right.
"When you start calling for a royal commission I think you're intimating that there is something wrong," she told the paper's podcast.
Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was a solid plan but not properly implemented by the coalition government.
"I'm not surprised that Amanda Vanstone as a South Australian is very concerned about the implementation of the Murray-Darling plan because South Australia really sees the impact of this government's mismanagement of it," she told reporters in Sydney.
Water management continues to be a sore point for the government during the election campaign, with continued questions about $80 million spent on two water purchases in 2017.
These purchases, made during Barnaby Joyce's time as water minister, would be the subject of a judicial inquiry if Labor wins government.
The coalition has referred water purchases under governments of both sides dating back to 2008 to the auditor-general.