NEWS

John Barilaro: Paul Toole defeats Melinda Pavey to become deputy premier

A former teacher will replace John Barilaro as NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals leader following a leadership vote. 

Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole defeated Water Minister Melinda Pavey in a party room ballot on Wednesday morning, 15 votes to three.

Mr Barilaro resigned on Sunday, two days after Gladys Berejiklian quit as Liberal premier over a corruption investigation. 

The larrikin MP joked that he was having a ‘mid-life crisis’ and wanted a new career outside of politics.

For the first time since 2008, NSW has a new premier and deputy premier in the same week without an election, with the Coalition’s revolving door of leaders resembling Labor in its final years.

The New South Wales Nationals, like their senior Coalition partner, are now on their fourth leader in seven years, as they struggle to hold traditional regional seats.

Under Mr Barilaro, the Nationals lost vast seats in the state’s far west to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party as Lismore in the state’s far north fell to Labor for the first time since 1965. 

Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole defeated Water Minister Melinda Pavey in a party room ballot on Wednesday morning, 15 votes to three

 Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole defeated Water Minister Melinda Pavey in a party room ballot on Wednesday morning, 15 votes to three

The party of the bush has now chosen a leader from west of the Great Dividing Range from the central west city of Bathurst, better known as the home Mount Panorama and V8 Supercar racing. 

Mr Toole is taking over as Deputy Premier as Sydney prepares to emerge from lockdown on October 11 under a new Liberal Premier Dominic Perrottet.

The leaders of both Coalition parties were first elected to Parliament in March 2011. 

‘I tell you what, I’m looking forward to getting back to work,’ Mr Toole said after the vote on Wednesday.

The new Nationals leader began teaching at Assumption Primary School in Bathurst in 1995 before joining the Evans Shire Council and becoming mayor in 2007.

The married father-of-three won the seat of Bathurst off Labor in the 2011 landslide that brought the Coalition to power.

Three years later, he became the minister for local government.

He moved to the race and lands and forestry portfolios in 2017.

The Nationals are now on their fourth leader since 2014 after Melinda Pavey lost her bid to become the state party's first female leader

The Nationals are now on their fourth leader since 2014 after Melinda Pavey lost her bid to become the state party’s first female leader

After the 2019 election, with the Coalition winning a third term, he became the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads.

Announcing his run for the top job on Tuesday, Mr Toole said: ‘This is a time where we need a strong and stable leadership (as) we are coming out of a pandemic.’

He talked up his credentials as deputy party leader, and pointed to his record of working with the incoming premier in crisis cabinet and other committees.

Under the Liberal-National Coalition arrangement, the Liberal Party provides the Premier and the National Party provides the Deputy Premier.

For the first time since 2014, both conservative parties are changing leader in the same calendar year. 

John Barilaro resigned on Sunday, two days after Gladys Berejiklian resigned as Liberal premier over a corruption investigation

John Barilaro resigned on Sunday, two days after Gladys Berejiklian resigned as Liberal premier over a corruption investigation

Andrew Stoner had quit as Nationals leader in October, six months after Barry O’Farrell resigned as Liberal premier for failing to declare a $3,000 bottle of Grange Hermitage bottled in 1959, the year he was born, following an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry.

But NSW hasn’t had a new premier and deputy premier within days of each other since 2008 when Nathan Rees and Carmel Tebbutt replaced Morris Iemma and John Watkins as Labor’s most senior leaders.

When announcing his surprise decision to step down, Mr Barilaro said NSW would be best served by someone who had the passion and fight to forge on.

‘I just don’t have the energy anymore,’ Mr Barilaro told reporters on Monday.

The Nationals leader said he had been ‘thinking about this for a while’, and ruled out running for federal parliament.

‘I’m looking for a new career. I turn 50 in November, maybe a bit of a midlife crisis, but definitely thinking about what happens next. I will take some time out, but I genuinely won’t be running for federal politics,’ the Monaro MP said. 


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