Dugald Saunders, the Dubbo MP, has replaced Paul Toole as the leader of the NSW Nationals after claims that an MP was encouraged to break ranks to secure a plum parliamentary job. Saunders confirmed his appointment and thanked the party room for its support, saying that it had been an “extremely difficult 24 hours”. He praised Toole as “a great servant of regional New South Wales” but said that it had become evident that his leadership was in “a tenuous position”. Saunders said that the party intended to “put all of the things that have been happening for the past couple of weeks behind us” and move forward.
Last week, MP Ben Franklin claimed that Toole had supported his bid to nominate for president of the upper house. However, Franklin came under fire when it emerged that the role would give Labor an effective majority in the evenly balanced upper house. A ministerial salary is paid for the role, which also gives the upper house president a driver, three staff and a dining room. Franklin said that he was frustrated because Toole had not been honest about what took place.
The NSW Nationals have a new leader in Dugald Saunders, who has replaced Paul Toole after claims of impropriety. Saunders has vowed to move forward and put the past behind them, but there may be some angst around what this means for the party as parliament resumes for the first time. The situation highlights the importance of transparency and honesty in politics, and the need for leaders to act in the best interests of their party and constituents.