Monaro MP and NSW Minister for Regional Development, Skills and Small Business, John Barilaro, has accepted the role of NSW Nationals party leader and deputy premier of NSW.
After a party meeting on Tuesday morning, where he stood for the role unopposed, Mr Barilaro thanked the NSW Nationals “for this privilege of representing them and the people of NSW”.
He also thanked previous deputy and family friend Troy Grant “for his tireless work for the party as leader, for his professional and caring approach to the role, and his friendship along the way.”
The party meeting was called as Mr Grant announced his resignation as leader in the wash-out of a disastrous by-election in Orange, where he is set to lose his seat to Phil Donato after a 36 per cent swing to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.
The Orange result was seen by many as a reflection of public anger surrounding the Baird government’s attempts to ban greyhound racing. Local opposition to plans to amalgamate the councils of Blayney, Cabonne and Orange was also credited for the voters rejection of the NSW Nationals.
Until just a little more than five years ago, Mr Barilaro was working at his door and window installation business in Queanbeyan.
His entry into politics had come in 2008 when he stood for election on the Queanbeyan City Council. He ran for Monaro for the NSW Nationals Party in 2011, beating Labor incumbent Steve Whan.
Mr Barilaro won his way onto the front bench in 2014 after being an outspoken critic of the Baird government's electricity privatisation policy, which it successfully took to the 2015 election.
Born in Queanbeyan to Italian migrants, Mr Barilaro is known for his mozzarella-parmesan lasagne. His wife, Deanna, has praised his lasagne-making skills on television.
Competing in a charity cook-off, he once boasted his recipe was the product of 200 years' of family tradition.
He lives in Jerrabomberra with his wife and two daughters.
After thanking the NSW Nationals for the privilige of leadership, Mr Barilaro said he promised “to bring the same passion, drive and work ethic to this role, just as I have done so working for my electorate, the Monaro, and Cabinet portfolios”.
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