It's been the Central Wests' worst-kept political secret, but Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW MLC Rick Colless has broken his silence about calling time on his two-decade long political career.
Despite making his valedictory speech in October last year and whispers Mr Colless would call time on his career swirling as early as September, he hasn't commented on the record about retiring.
Mr Colless denied to talk about retiring during the election trail, where he has spent significant time at events with Nationals candidate Kate Hazelton.
On Sunday morning I'll probably wake up and wonder what I'm going to do today.Rick Colless
However, a week out from the election he confirmed he would not be standing, saying he wanted to retire to spend time with family and friends.
He said he'd been busy the whole 19 years he'd been in politics, but his last term as secretary for Western NSW had been "really, really busy".
"I'll be working all the way up until 9pm on on polling day and hopefully we'll have a good result and on Sunday morning I'll probably wake up and wonder what I'm going to do today," Mr Colless said.
"I'm looking forward to putting my feet up for the rest of this year with family and grandkids and all those sorts of things."
However, he denied the chaotic lead-up to this election, which left the Nationals without a candidate just months out from polling day after Yvette Quinn alleged she'd been pushed out of the race, contributed to his decision to call time on his career.
He said he'd always had the two-decade limit on serving.
"I don't think it's worn me out, it was always my plan to retire at this election," he said.
"I'm 66 now, that's a good age to retire and still enjoy playing with grandkids and some of the energy those little people give off but I don't think it's worn me out."
Standing on Matthews Avenue out the front of Bletchington Public School on Thursday, Mr Colless said Orange had changed
He said while living in Cowra before he became the MLC, Orange had only 20,000 people living in it, and said Matthews Avenue was the edge of town, with Orchards behind him where suburbs of houses now lie.
In the more rural areas they can very much be rural orientated but Orange is becoming a major inland city and becoming more diversified 20 years ago, that's for sure.Rick Colless
He said rapid expansion had seen Orange become "much more cosmopolitan in terms of cultural facilities, health facilities and all those sorts of things".
"What we're seeing now is the politics is tending to be more urbanised and Orange being the major city in the electorate it has a major impact on how people vote," he said.
"In the more rural areas they can very much be rural orientated but Orange is becoming a major inland city and becoming more diversified 20 years ago, that's for sure."
While the electorate's voting pattern had changed, Mr Colless still believed the Nationals would be able to reclaim the seat it lost to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers in 2016.
However, he still saw the rumblings of an independents push for seats, which he saw first-hand in New England in the 1990s when the Nationals lost three seats to independent members.
"The thing that happened up there and I suspect that will happen up here," he said.
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