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New NSW Nats boss offers 'clean slate'

AAP logoAAP 14/11/2016 Stefanie Menezes

A "clean slate" and return to core values for the NSW Nationals.

Newly sworn-in Deputy Premier John Barilaro has vowed to do all he can to strengthen the party's reputation after their humiliating showing at last weekend's Orange by-election.

The Monaro MP was elected unopposed as party leader on Tuesday following his embattled predecessor Troy Grant's dramatic resignation.

"It will take some time to examine what happened in Orange and there are some lessons for me as leader," Mr Barilaro said after becoming the state's 18th deputy premier.

Mr Barilaro admitted he was "complicit" in the debacle which led to Mr Grant falling on his sword.

"I supported the greyhound ban. I supported the decision, the policies that some people are now saying in our communities that they've been affected by," he said.

"(But) today is a clean slate for members of the Nationals party. We are now looking to the future."

The decision to merge councils is being blamed as one of the main contributors behind the Nationals' dismal outcome in the once safe-seat of Orange.

Mr Barilaro said it was too early to say what changes he would push for but promised a "robust conversation" with Premier Mike Baird.

He also paid tribute to Mr Grant, saying he's offered him the opportunity to serve in the cabinet.

"That offer is on the table and that will be negotiated over and talked about in the days, weeks and months ahead," he told reporters in Sydney.

Upper House MP Niall Blair was elected deputy leader of the NSW Nationals at Tuesday's party room meeting after Education Minister Adrian Piccoli stepped down on Monday.

Mr Baird said the government would consider a cabinet reshuffle in the new year.

(It's) been a difficult time for the National party, a difficult time for the government," he said.

"But it's also a hopeful time".

Counting is continuing for the Orange by-election, but Shooters Fishers and Farmers candidate Phil Donato is on track to win, with the latest count putting him 78 votes ahead of the Nationals' Scott Barrett.

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