Oxley Nats MP Melinda Pavey has announced she will run for the leadership of the NSW Nationals, despite outgoing leader John Barilaro appearing to back his deputy Paul Toole.
Mrs Pavey, the Minister for Water, said this afternoon she would nominate for the Nationals leadership.
Mr Toole has not yet declared that he will run for the leadership, but said he was weighing up his options.
"Over the next 24 hours, I'll consider how best I can serve our party and the people of NSW in this next period to build upon the foundations that he's laid," Mr Toole said.
"I've been proud to work alongside John since we were elected together in 2011 and over the past three years as his deputy, and seen the passion and ferocity he's thrown into every day."
Mr Barilaro appeared to give Mr Toole a leg-up in his press conference on Monday morning when he officially announced his resignation from parliament due to the need to seek a refresh, and give the new NSW Coalition leadership some certainty.
Mrs Pavey said: "John has inspired me to continue his work and I have decided to nominate as the leader of the NSW Nationals".
"This is a sad day for regional NSW, to lose such a great champion of the bush," she said.
"John Barilaro has been instrumental in delivering real change for regional communities across the state, through the delivery of record regional infrastructure in roads, hospitals and schools, as well as securing funding to build new dams.
"To John, the carpenters in Cooma were more important than the Ministers on Macquarie Street.
"His legacy will live on through the Department of Regional NSW, which has given a voice to our communities.
"John's leadership through the drought, bushfires and Covid will not be forgotten.
"I was there when he was elected and I'm proud to stand beside him as he transitions to his next period of life.
"A strong National party is integral to a strong coalition and I am encouraged by the support my colleagues have shown me."