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Murray-Darling protesters brandish noose at Water Minister

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Federal Water Minister David Littleproud has shrugged off angry protesters brandishing a noose during his tour of the Murray-Darling Basin.

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A group of about 200 tried to intercept the minister while he was in the northern Victorian town of Swan Hill on Monday.

But the mob’s attempts to block a road failed and the crowd dispersed before getting a chance to confront him.

Littleproud said he wasn’t fazed by the ominous imagery of the noose, insisting he was happy to meet with any group.

“We live in a beautiful country where people get to express their views and their beliefs and we should be fierce custodians of that,” he told AAP on Tuesday.

“With that comes responsibility – everyone gets in the heat of the moment and can sometimes go a little overboard.”

Littleproud later spoke to two people from the group, arguing the basin plan had flaws but needed to be carried through to the end.

He said he had no problems with people expressing views against him in a respectful way.

“I’m not perfect. The only bloke that was perfect they nailed to a cross and I don’t want that happening to me,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Littleproud said there was no malice in his handling of the water management plan, with protecting basin communities his priority.

The protesters want flows in the Murray River managed differently and more access to water.

But the minister warned pausing the plan, which has been 80 per cent delivered, could have grave consequences.

“The only other option is to pause the plan and wait for the other mob to get in and wreck it,” he said.

He said he wouldn’t risk detrimental changes to the plan which could devastate local groups including in his electorate.

“You roll the dice – good luck to you. But I’m not going to do that,” he said.

“You will destroy communities, you will just wipe out small towns.”

After visiting South Australia and Victoria over the past two days, Littleproud touched down in Albury on Tuesday for a tour of the Hume Dam.

The visit has been primarily to show interim Murray-Darling Basin inspector-general Mick Keelty around the southern basin after he took over the job.

-AAP

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