Dominic Perrottet’s triumph in the New South Wales Liberal party room and ascension to the premiership is not the only leadership contest within the Coalition government this week.
The NSW Nationals will on Wednesday hold a party room meeting where outgoing leader John Barilaro will formally resign and call for a vote for a new leader – who’ll then become the deputy premier.
Barilaro announced on Monday he would quit state politics at the same time as fallen former premier Gladys Berejiklian, saying NSW needed a “new beginning”.
The new leader of the junior coalition partner will be influential in shaping the direction of NSW under the Perrottet government.
It looks likely there will be two Nationals MPs contesting the leadership. Here is what you need to know about them.
The Bathurst MP announced he would put his hand up to be the NSW Nationals leader on Tuesday – more than a day after Barilaro’s announcement. He needed time to consider his position and canvass support from colleagues.
Acting deputy premier Paul Toole. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP
Toole has served under Barilaro as the party’s deputy leader since 2019, making him a strong contender to take over the reins.
“This is a time where we need a strong and stable leadership as we are coming out of a pandemic,” Toole said when announcing his candidacy on Tuesday.
He talked up his credentials as deputy party leader and pointed to his track record of working with the incoming premier in the crisis cabinet and other committees.
Toole has been serving as the minister for regional transport and roads, and has previously held the racing, local government, and land and forestry portfolios.
Toole – a former school teacher and mayor – was elected alongside John Barilaro in 2011.
The MP for Oxley on the NSW mid-north coast, Pavey has served as the minister for water, property and housing since April 2019.
NSW water minister Melinda Pavey. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP
Her water portfolio meant her visibility immediately increased as the government responded to the severe drought affecting swathes of the state.
“I believe I have got what it takes and I can be a good National party leader, a good coalitionist, and be very dedicated to getting NSW through Covid and seek those opportunities for the bush,” Pavey said on Monday.
Raised on a dairy farm, the former broadcast journalist and small business owner previously held the roads and maritime portfolios.
Will it just be two candidates?
It appears likely. The education minister, Sarah Mitchell, had been touted as a possible candidate but had not formally announced she would run by Tuesday evening.
At his swearing-in as premier on Tuesday, Perrottet said he was happy to work with whoever was voted the new National party leader.
Who will win?
The National party room is small so things could change quickly, which makes it hard to predict exactly what will happen.
On Tuesday evening, one Nationals MP told Guardian Australia “the numbers are so strongly behind Paul that I think he will win overwhelmingly”.
They said there was a sense of frustration among Nationals MPs that Pavey had publicly signalled her candidacy so soon after Barilaro’s resignation announcement.
“The fact she did it so soon was outrageous.”
As Toole is the current Nationals deputy, if he wins the leadership, a ballot will be held to replace him.
It is expected that Bronnie Taylor, an upper house MLC and minister for mental health, will be elected as the new deputy leader if Toole becomes leader.
– with Australian Associated Press