NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says the coal industry will "always" be a crucial part of the state's economy and it is "not the time" for Upper Hunter voters to send the government into minority.
Mr Perrottet pushed the Berejiklian government's record on the economy and COVID-19 while standing beside Nationals leader John Barilaro and the Nationals' Upper Hunter by-election candidate, David Layzell, at Glencore's Ravensworth mine on Thursday.
Mr Layzell, a surprise winner of the Nationals' pre-selection vote on Wednesday, faces an uphill battle as a hitherto low-profile candidate rebuilding the party's reputation and clinging to a narrow margin in the seat.
The Clarence Town construction manager and father-of-four convinced a majority of the party conference's 23 voting members to plump for him to contest the May 22 by-election ahead of Singleton mayor Sue Moore.
The Coalition has been at pains to establish its pro-coal credentials since Michael Johnsen was forced to resign last week over a sex scandal, prompting a by-election which could leave the government in minority.
Environment Minister Matt Kean punted former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull from chairing a climate advisory board this week after he argued for a moratorium on new mines.
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Mr Kean told Sky News on Thursday that the Coalition "support coal, we support coalmining, we support the coalmining industry".
Mr Layzell, who will likely face Labor's mining union delegate Jeff Drayton in the by-election, said the vote would not be won or lost on mining but added that Australia should continue to sell coal as long as the rest of the world wanted it.
Bar Beach-based One Nation upper house MP Mark Latham, who has attacked Labor and the Coalition over their "anti-coal" energy policies, said on Wednesday that he was "thinking about" running in Upper Hunter.
Mr Barilaro said on Thursday that Upper Hunter did not need outsiders talking about its management of the mining, wine, equine and agriculture industries.
"What we don't need is external parties, individuals with big egos and personalities, coming in and causing conflict on something this community has worked for decades on finding a balance," the Mining Minister said.
Mr Barilaro said Mr Layzell was a father of four daughters who "upholds the values of the National party, upholds the values of this region".
He said the government would address Mr Layzell's concerns about the design of the Singleton and Muswellbrook bypass intersections, an issue the new candidate raised in his speech to members on Wednesday night.
"We'll take that on board today, and we'll have more to say about those commitments throughout this campaign," Mr Barilaro said.