"I tell you what, I'm looking forward to getting back to work."
He's been a school teacher at Assumption School, mayor of Bathurst in NSW's Central West and a NSW member for the past 10 years, and now Paul Toole will assume the mantle of the second-highest ranking minister in state government: deputy premier.
Mr Toole was sworn in as the 19th deputy premier of NSW on Wednesday after securing the NSW Nationals leadership in a party room ballot, defeating Oxley MP Melinda Pavey convincingly at a vote of 15 to three.
He succeeds outgoing Monaro MP John Barilaro, who announced his resignation from the NSW Nationals leadership and state parliament on Monday.
But despite acknowledging the ascension as a "real honour", Mr Toole said his main focus will be helping navigate NSW, and especially regional and rural areas, out of lockdown.
"I'm not focusing on it [the deputy premiership] because I want to make sure we focus on the people of this state and ensure we get back to work and ensure it's business as usual," he said.
"The people of this state have been doing it tough now for a number of years, and I think what's important here is we get on with the job we were elected to do."
Mr Toole is the first deputy premier to hail from Bathurst in the position's 89-year history, and the first from the NSW Central West since former Dubbo MP Troy Grant.
He will be deputy to NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, who was sworn in on Tuesday.
In his maiden speech as deputy premier, Mr Toole stressed a regional tour with the new premier will be high on the agenda post-lockdown.
"One of the first things I did when I became NSW Nationals leader is I went back to my room and rang Mr Perrottet," he said.
"I told him that 'I want to catch up with him very shortly with him' to talk about the future and what happens next.
"Dom's already said that, as soon as we get out of parliament in the next fortnight, he wants to do a regional tour together."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women Bronnie Taylor was appointed as deputy leader of the NSW Nationals, whom Mr Toole said is "talented, enthusiastic, energetic and comes with a lot of experience."
"She [Bronnie Taylor] is going to be absolutely brilliant to work with as we go forward for this state," he said.
"We've got Sarah Mitchell [Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister] as well: another incredible woman from our party, and the great thing about the NSW Nationals is we have strong, talented people across each area."
But above all, Mr Toole said he would never have made it this far without the dedicated support of the Bathurst community.
"Everyone that has been a part of my journey: my former Assumption colleagues, fellow councillors and council staff and Bathurst residents young and old: has helped shaped me as a parliamentarian," he said.
"But I also have to thank my loving family, who have supported me through thick and thin, and I really cannot wait to hug my mum again once we're out of lockdown."
"It's a big job ahead, but I'm ready."
Paul Toole is a third generation politician
POLITICS has always been in Paul Toole's blood.
The new NSW Nationals leader's own political career began when he was elected to Evans Shire Council while still aged in his 20s in 1995 but he had been out on the hustings even earlier than that.
Proud father Trevor Toole, who also spent many years in politics as an Evans Shire councillor and as a Nationals candidate for Bathurst in the 1990s, recalled Paul going out campaigning with him as a child.
And Paul's grandfather, Jack Toole, also contested the seat of Bathurst for the Liberal Party in 1956.
"I believe it's something Paul grew up with all his life," Trevor Toole said on Wednesday.
"Even when he was a young kid he would come with me when I was campaigning around the shire and open gates for me. He was just always with me.
"When I decided to step down from the shire Paul decided to have a run and he was elected first as an Evans councillor and then, of course, made the move into Bathurst where he later became mayor."
Mr Toole said listening was one of his son's greatest strengths as a politician.
"He always listens, that's a big plus for him," he said.
"He will never turn a deaf ear to someone and say he is not interested, he will hear them out before making his mind."
Mr Toole said Paul would bring a different style of leadership to the role than his predecessor, John Barilaro.
"Paul showed as the Regional Minister for Transport that he would put the interests of regional people first and that's what he will bring to this new job," he said.
"I thought [Gladys Berejiklian] had done an excellent job as premier, especially through the difficult COVID times, and she worked very hard.
"And I thought John Barilaro also worked very hard but his style was probably a little bit different Paul's. Paul will work harder behind-the-scenes rather than speak out as much as John but he will still make his presence felt and really make a difference.
"The whole family is very excited and very proud of Paul and we're with him all the way."