TROY Grant bit the bullet because he was Mike Baird's scapegoat; a victim of the premier's "arrogance and refusal to listen to the people".
That was the message a smirking Opposition Leader Luke Foley delivered to NSW Parliament on news of Mr Grant's resignation as NSW Nationals leader.
"Rather than sacrifice your deputy, why don't you take responsibility for your own policies that were so decisively rejected in three seats last Saturday?" Mr Foley beamed.
"Why don't you resign?"
Skills Minister John Barilaro was unanimously elected on Tuesday to lead the Nationals after the party's disastrous showing in the Orange by-election cued Mr Grant's resignation.
Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair also won a vote against Andrew Fraser to take over the deputy leader position from Adrian Piccoli.
The spill followed an upset in the Orange by-election, with a huge swing against the Nationals putting Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Philip Donato within reach of winning the once-safe seat as counting continues.
Mr Baird was stinging in response to the Question Time attack, noting Mr Grant had "more principles and integrity in his little toe" than Mr Foley had in his whole body.
"What was quite spectacular was the Opposition's ability to actually put aside everything they believe in, in terms of when they got around to those preference deals," he said.
Mr Baird quoted Mr Foley's 2011 statement the Shooters and Fishers would "deliver a far-right upper house controlled by the book-burners and elephant shooters".
The Nationals' new leader vowed to rebuild the party's damaged reputation.
"I thank the NSW Nationals for this privilege of representing them and the people of NSW," Mr Barilaro said.
"I thank Troy for his tireless work for the party as leader, for his professional and caring approach to the role and his friendship along the way.
"I promise to bring the same passion, drive and work ethic to this role just as I have done so working for my electorate, the Monaro, and Cabinet portfolios.
"I am proud of what the NSW Nationals have achieved so far, building the hospitals, roads and schools our communities need to keep them strong, but I know there is much more work to do to regain the trust and rebuild the reputation of the NSW Nationals as proud representatives of regional NSW in Australia's oldest Parliament."
Mr Blair said he was honoured to become deputy leader of "the only political party which truly represents the core values of regional NSW".
"We need to reflect on the outcome of the by-election in Orange but we also need to get on with the job of delivering for our communities, for example by repealing Labor's hated Native Vegetation Act this week," he said.
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