A former school teacher and mayor of Bathurst, the new Deputy Premier Paul Toole will take a markedly different approach to leading the NSW Nationals, according to colleagues who describe him as the polar opposite to his firebrand predecessor.
The 51-year-old was sworn in as the state’s deputy leader on Wednesday after a resounding win at a party room ballot earlier in the day over Water Minister Melinda Pavey.
Known as “Toolie” to his colleagues, the unassuming National arrived on Macquarie Street in 2011, before being appointed the Minister for Local Government in 2014. He was later tasked with implementing the government’s disastrous local government mergers and was appointed Minister for Racing and Regional Transport in 2017.
The father of three listens to Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Def Leppard in his ministerial ute, supports the St George Dragons and puts wasabi on his sandwiches, according to his staff.
One MP described Mr Toole as a competent minister who had long been a friend to regional NSW.
Mr Toole will bring his own style to the party room, which will no doubt be different to former leader John Barilaro, the MP said.
“We’ll still be as effective as we were previously, there is just a different rider in the saddle.
“John wore his heart on his sleeve. He wasn’t a conventional politician, never used political-speak. Paul is a bit more measured than that, but certainly a steady hand on the tiller and that’s what we need at the moment,” the MP said.