John Barilaro 'not a cookie-cutter': Joyce

Senior Nationals say John Barilaro has been a passionate and fierce advocate for regional NSW.
Senior Nationals say John Barilaro has been a passionate and fierce advocate for regional NSW.

Retiring Deputy Premier John Barilaro has been lauded as a "true champion of country" NSW, with federal Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce leading the tributes.

Mr Barilaro is quitting politics days after Premier Gladys Berejiklian's decision to resign following the announcement of an ICAC investigation.

The NSW Nationals leader, who holds the seat of Monaro, said the next premier would be best served by someone who had the passion and fight to forge on.

A bevy of his colleagues on Monday praised the 49-year-old for his commitment to regional communities.

Federal party leader Barnaby Joyce said Mr Barilaro had been a "forthright advocate" for regional NSW despite the political consequences of doing so, a sentiment echoed by NSW Nationals chairman Andrew Fraser and the man seeking to become the state's next premier, Dominic Perrottet.

"He was not a cookie-cutter politician and I think that was the key to his success," Mr Joyce said in a statement on Monday.

"John has served his party well and leaves at the top, at a time of his choosing."

NSW Nationals MP Paul Toole, likely to be one of three to put their hand up for the vacant leadership position, said Mr Barilaro "never shied away from a challenge".

Adam Marshall, also a potential contender, said he is "a colourful political brawler" admired and adored for his "mongrel and passion".

"There will never be another John Barilaro," he said.

Born in Queanbeyan to Italian migrant parents, Mr Barilaro worked as a carpenter and on the factory floor of his family's business.

He never lost sight of his roots and the community he was representing, said Water Minister Melinda Pavey, so far the only MP to throw her hat in the ring for the top job.

"To John, the carpenters in Cooma were more important than the ministers on Macquarie Street," she said in a statement.

The NSW Minerals Council also thanked Mr Barilaro for his work as resources minister.

"From the outset he clearly enunciated a vision to make NSW the number one destination for mining investment," the council said in a statement.

"Thanks to his efforts our state is well on the way towards this worthy goal."

NSW Farmers thanked Mr Barilaro for his service to rural and regional communities.

"Over the years John has shown amazing support for farmers through drought, fire and flood, and he has continued to advocate for a fair balance when it comes to land management," the lobby group said.

A new Nationals leader will be elected at a party meeting on Wednesday, where Mr Barilaro will formally resign.

Once that is settled, Mr Barilaro will work with the Speaker and the Electoral Commission to determine a date for a by-election in his seat.

Australian Associated Press