JOHN Barilaro retains the support of the NSW Nationals party room and Bathurst MP Paul Toole after backing down from a threat to remove his party from the NSW Coalition over contentious new planning rules to protect koala populations.
Mr Barilaro had warned Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Thursday evening that he would take Nationals MPs to the cross bench if the government pushed ahead with changes to the Koala Habitat Protection State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) that he said would adversely affect the state's farmers.
Ms Berejiklian responded with an ultimatum for Mr Barilaro and his colleagues to fall in line with the government position or to resign their Cabinet positions by 9am on Friday.
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Mr Toole, who also serves as deputy leader of the Nationals and the state's Regional Roads Minister, said it was not unusual for the Liberals and Nationals to disagree on policy but those arguments rarely spilled out into the public arena.
He said The Nationals would continue fighting for rural and regional communities.
"We're not anti-koala, we're anti the green tape that will sterilise farms and landholders' rights and stifle regional communities," he said.
"NSW Farmers have been very strong about this and it's something that could have a long-lasting impact on rural and regional properties, but I think it can be resolved."
Mr Toole said he remained a supporter of Mr Barilaro as leader of The Nationals, and said Mr Barilaro and Ms Berejiklian were a strong leadership team for NSW.
"John still has my support and the support of The Nationals' party room, and will remain as leader of the party," Mr Toole said.
"He has been a ferocious fighter for the bush and a ferocious fighter for getting investment out here and he will continue to do so."
Mr Toole said he was not eyeing a tilt at the leadership, saying he was "honoured and happy" to continue serving as deputy leader and Regional Roads Minister.
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