PARTY TIME: Pat Conaghan celebrates his victory with family and supporters on Saturday night.
PARTY TIME: Pat Conaghan celebrates his victory with family and supporters on Saturday night. Fran Redward

'Dragging their heels': Conaghan will tackle RMS over bypass

THAT winning feeling has begun to sink into Pat Conaghan nearly 24 hours after his memorable night, but the former police officer hasn't taken his eyes off the prize.

In what was expected to be a tight race with independent Rob Oakeshott, Mr Conaghan blew the long time politician out of the water, beating him by more than 10,000 first preference votes.

The father of two said he couldn't have dreamt Saturday night would unfold the way it did.

"Absolutely not, I said to you yesterday I thought it was going to be a drawn out process so to get a result like that was unreal,” Mr Conaghan said.

"I've worked really hard and all of the volunteers have worked really hard. So to increase The Nationals percentage was a real pat on the back.”

Mr Conaghan is taking the reins of Cowper from predecessor Luke Hartsuyker who was in the chair for 18 years.

One of the tasks Mr Hartsuyker was never able to complete whilst in office was the long-awaited Coffs Harbour bypass.

Mr Conaghan said the key piece of infrastructure was number one on his to-do list.

"I'll have a few days off next week and take the family away somewhere nice and quiet where there's no phone reception... It's been a long campaign,” he said.

"But once I get sworn in the first thing I'm going to do will be pick up the phone to the RMS to find out what's the go with the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) for the bypass.

"They've been dragging their heels on that for months from what I can tell.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during the election campaign the Federal Government will foot 80 per cent of the bypass bill.



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