Promoted Toole wants a faster route over Blue Mountains

Promoted Toole wants a faster route over Blue Mountains

IT'S been a big couple of weeks for Oberon's state member, Paul Toole.

After being re-elected as the Member for Bathurst for a third term at the state election a week-and-a-half ago, he has since received a promotion within the NSW Nationals and a new ministry.

Mr Toole won the support of his fellow party members to step into the role of deputy leader of the NSW Nationals in a vote in Sydney last Friday.

He will be taking over from Niall Blair, who revealed after the NSW election that he would be resigning from the ministry and the deputy leader position.

"With Niall Blair announcing that he was stepping down as deputy leader, I had a number of members of the party approach me and encourage me to put my hand up for deputy leader," Mr Toole said.

Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey also contested the ballot, but was unsuccessful.


Mr Toole said it was good to see someone of Mrs Pavey's calibre also put their name forward and called her "a great minister and a great advocate for regional and rural NSW".

"My electorate will always come first, but with my experience and involvement in state politics and local government, that experience will be used to mentor new party members and to help develop policy," he said. "I don't see a great change."

He will serve alongside Nationals leader John Barilaro, who has already said this will be his final term as the Member for Monaro and as leader of the party.

Mr Toole wouldn't say whether he would put his name forward when Mr Barilaro steps down.

On Tuesday, Mr Toole was sworn in as the state's new Regional Roads and Transport Minister.

In terms of his priorities, he said he wants to see 100-kilometre-an-hour stretches of highway from Lithgow to Penrith over the Blue Mountains to dramatically cut the travel times to the state capital.

The Coalition Government has already committed to a $2.5 billion, 31-kilometre duplication of the Great Western Highway between Lithgow and Katoomba, with work to start in the next four years.

But Mr Toole said he would also use the next four years to start planning the next stage of upgrades.

"What I want is a safe and fast road from Lithgow to Penrith where you can travel at 100km/h because one of the real frustrations at the moment are all the speed limit changes," Mr Toole said.

"When you get to towns like Blackheath, though, you really can't go around so the only way is to go under so we want to start looking at costings for tunnels in the next four years.

"It's a big job but, who knows, if the feds come on board and give us some real money then maybe we can expedite it even faster than that."

He said the state government will take back control of more than 15,000 kilometres of roads across the state from local councils to ease the financial pressure on local government.