A third term for Nationals' Toole, but Oberon makes its point

VICTORY BASH: Paul Toole celebrated his win with family, friends, staff and supporters on Saturday night. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK
VICTORY BASH: Paul Toole celebrated his win with family, friends, staff and supporters on Saturday night. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

PAUL Toole was comfortably returned for a third term as the Member for Bathurst in the state election on Saturday, but the voters of Oberon showed they have a long memory.

As of Tuesday night, the Nationals' candidate had received 55.8 per cent of the first preference votes and around 67 per cent on two-candidate preferred.

Labor's Beau Riley was sitting on 20.8 per cent of first preference votes and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers' Brenden May had 14.6 per cent.

But the figures suggested the people of Oberon had a point to prove about Mr Toole's time as local government minister, when he was the face of the NSW Coalition's attempt to amalgamate Oberon and Bathurst Regional councils.

A booth-by-booth analysis of Saturday's voting across the Bathurst electorate showed Mr Toole won every booth, but his primary vote was slashed in Oberon.

In 2015, Mr Toole picked up 1044 first preference votes out of the 1536 cast at Oberon High (68 per cent), but four years on that number was down to 570 out of 1219 votes cast (47 per cent).

That was almost 500 votes lost in what used to be Nationals heartland for the party.

Mr May from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers was the main beneficiary of the backlash against Mr Toole, picking up 364 primary votes (30 per cent) - his best result from the 41 booths across the electorate and double his overall first preference percentage.

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During its election campaign, the NSW Coalition promised to design and construct a $2.5 billion, 31-kilometre duplication of the Great Western Highway from Lithgow to Katoomba by 2028.

The Coalition also promised to introduce the Regional Seniors Transport Card if elected, which will provide senior citizens in regional and rural areas with $250 annually to spend on all modes of transport.

Mr Toole said it is hoped that this program can be rolled out in early 2020.

"This is about making sure we reduce transport costs when it comes to the cost of living," he said.

Mr Toole said he was pleased to see the level of support he got from the electorate.

"It's an amazing result," he said.