Toole gets new roles

NEW START: Member for Bathurst Paul Toole has been handed the dual portfolios of racing and lands and forestry in the new-look NSW Cabinet.
Nanjing Night Net

Member for Bathurst Paul Toole has come through a NSW Cabinet reshuffle with two new portfolios.

CHANGE: Gabrielle Upton.

The former local government minister had been widely tipped to be dumped from Cabinet after the Coalition government indicated it would be dumping its policy of forced council mergers.

But Mr Toole received a call from Nationals leader John Barilaro on Saturday night to say he would instead be handed the dual portfolios of racing and lands and forestry in the new-look Cabinet.

He said much of the negotiations between new Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Mr Barilaro had centred on Nationals MPs being given portfolios that closely aligned with the interests of their rural and regional constituents.

Mr Toole said he was looking forward to the new challenges the roles would bring.

“Forestry is quite big in rural areas, obviously, and also a strongly innovative industry and a big employer, so it’s important that we keep that industry alive,” he said.

“Crown Lands brings its own challenges with a backlog of Crown Road management that needs to be addressed.”

The forestry portfolio will again put Mr Toole in close contact with the Oberon community and he said he was looking forward to working with them to strengthen the industry.

Mr Toole said the Coalition government’s short-lived plan to ban greyhound racing in the state would remain “dead and buried” as long he was the racing minister.

“Racing is very big in Bathurst with harness racing, thoroughbred racing and greyhound racing, so I think I was seen as an MP that had experience with all three,” he said.

Mr Toole said he was proud of the work he had done in almost three years in the local government portfolio, even as the mergers policy looks set to be dumped.

“When we talk about mergers, though, that was only part of it,” he said.

“We also achieved a lot in the areas of integrity around local government, we did some good work with the Local Government Act, we created a State Borrowing Authority for councils and we did a lot of work with councils in the west of the state.”

Mr Toole was sworn into the new Cabinet with all ministers on Monday and received portfolio briefings throughout the rest of the week.

Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton will be the new local government minister.

Ms Upton was previously the NSW Attorney-General and the Minister for Family and Community Services.

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