High noon leadership spill after crushing by-election

LONGSERVING Nationals parliamentarian, Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser will tomorrow call for a party leadership spill, following the Orange by-election.

The Nationals are set to lose the safe Nationals seat, that's been held by the party for some 70 years to the Shooters Fishers and Farmers party.

Mr Fraser said the country electorate had voted in response to the Coalition's bungled policies on issues such as the local government amalgamations and the greyhound racing roll-up.

"I will be moving a spill when the party room meets (Tuesday) as far as I'm concerned the leadership was on the nose down there, the decisions made by Cabinet under the leadership we have at the moment are poor and the people reflected that through a 34-36% swing against us when we have held the seat for 70 years sends a big message," Mr Fraser said.

"I was expecting a 15-20% swing I think that that is pretty normal in by-elections but 35 where it looks highly likely we are going to lose the seat is absolutely appalling.

"It reflects the fact there were decisions made on council amalgamations, greyhounds that were not brought to the party room and when they were, the party room made noises against them and it was ignored by the leadership.

"If you are ignoring your party room you are ignoring your electorate," he said.

Issuing a statement today, Deputy Premier Troy Grant responded: "It's a privilege to serve as NSW Nationals leader and I intend to continue to do so."

Mr Fraser said the loss of Ballina and a narrow result in Lismore over the past five years showed the Nationals leadership needed change, despite the fact Deputy Premier Troy Grant has held the office for just two years.

"I've been there a lot of years and if the leadership is not listening to the party room they are not listening to the constituents they are not listening to the broader electorate and we have got to change that.

"I believe the only way to change that is to have a new leader in there who will reflect the thoughts of the community.

One minister being touted as a potential challenger is John Barilaro, who currently holds three portfolios in the Baird Government.

In Orange, The Nationals candidate Scott Barrett holds about 30% of first preference votes with more than half of ballots counted, with around 25% going to Philip Donato from the Shooters Fishers and Farmers.

The Nationals had held Orange by a 21.7% margin, but the result of the weekend's by-election is still in the balance and will likely boil down to preferences.

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