Opposition concerns about the impacts of water buybacks on regional communities are unfounded, according to SA's Water Minister Susan Close, who says adjustment mechanisms will be in place to account for any unintended consequences.
Community debate over Basin Plan water buybacks in SA has been reasonably muted compared to the eastern states, but it is ramping up in the political arena.
South Australian Liberal leader David Speirs has unleashed on current Water Ministers about buybacks, and also hit out at Vic and NSW for not pulling their weight when it comes to the Plan's delivery.
Mr Speirs has accused the federal government of taking the "lazy option" by amending legislation to include water buybacks as an option to deliver environmental water targets laid out in the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
A former Water Minister himself when the Liberals held sway, Mr Speirs said current state and federal Labor Water Ministers (Susan Close and Tanya Plibersek) were "intensely city-centric" and "preaching to inner city elites" who did not know the impacts of buybacks on regional communities.
"Buybacks are a last resort in the toolkit well behind all the other options," he said.
"There are many other ways to achieve efficiencies.
"Over several years, Tim Whetstone (Member for Chaffey in the Riverland) has been showing me areas which have been left to die as a result of buybacks - farms taken out of the system and as a result that's less people at the local school, less people at the general store, less people using the local diesel mechanic.
"The knock on effect is so significant."
Dr Close has downplayed Mr Speirs concerns, saying irrigation communities would be involved in the design of buyback schemes and structural adjustments would be made to safeguard any industries or communities negatively impacted.
She said no peer-reviewed economic research had shown that voluntary buyback schemes had hurt communities.
"What has been proven is that buying water is cheaper for governments, money earned from buybacks is spent locally, most farmers only sell part of their right and farmers reduce their debt with the proceeds," Dr Close said.
"The Malinauskas Government is currently working with the Commonwealth on vital water saving infrastructure as part of delivering the Plan.
"It is also working with irrigator communities on how a buyback scheme would be best be designed, as input to the Commonwealth planning."
Dr Close has consistently questioned Mr Speirs position on buybacks, saying he had previously supported the mechanism as the state's Water Minister.
The now Liberal leader said he'd always possessed an "unwavering" view that buybacks were the very last resort.
"There are plenty of approaches undertaken in the Riverland and Murraylands regions around irrigation techniques and the way we deal with channels in this part of the world that could easily be done in NSW and Vic to save many, many gigalitres of water," he said.
"Buybacks are a lazy option and the easiest option. Not the easiest option for the communities impacted, but the bureaucracy and politicians."
Community, council and irrigator opinions on buybacks are mixed in SA, with many river Councils opting to not take a position or simply stating they wish for the Basin Plan to be delivered in full.
There is apprehension that buybacks could lead to reduced food and fibre production, but also acknowledgement they may offer a way out for an aging red wine grape grower demographic struggling with industry headwinds.
Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone, who represents the state's Riverland region and is a former Primary Industries Minister, has also taken an anti-buyback stance saying voluntary sellers of water should try to sell to neighbours before selling to government.
Mr Whetsone did acknowledge there were varying views on buybacks along the river in SA, but said "overwhelmingly" people understood that water sold through buybacks would be "lost forever".
"My conversations with all the communities up and down the river are that they understand the complexities of water, but they know if there's a future for a river community, a future for food production, we have to have that economic base that is underpinned by water."