Battle for Qld leadership as two contenders step forward

Three-way battle to succeed Palaszczuk

At least two contenders have thrown their hats into the ring to replace Annastacia Palaszczuk as Queensland premier.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles is considered the frontrunner to take over from Palaszczuk, who finishes up this week after announcing her resignation on Sunday.

On Monday, Health Minister Shannon Fentiman confirmed she would also chase the top job.

“Now is the time for renewal. That means we may have to do some things differently,” she said.

“I believe I am best-placed to lead that change and so I will be nominating to be the next Premier of this great state.”

Treasurer Cameron Dick is reportedly considering a tilt, although he is yet to make any public statements. There had been reports he and Fentiman might campaign together.

Miles was quick to declare his nomination for the top job soon after the outgoing Premier personally endorsed him. He is also believed to have plenty of support from the biggest group in Labor’s dominant left, the United Workers Union.

“Much has been achieved over nine years but there’s so much left to do,” he said in a Facebook post.

“I commit to my colleagues and to Queenslanders that I will work day and night to realise the enormous potential of our great state and its people. I pledge to deliver better government, I am up for the challenges and in it for Queenslanders.”

Labor’s administrative committee will meet on Monday night to formally open leadership nominations.

Caucus will gather on Friday to endorse its new parliamentary leader ahead of the October 2024 state election. But if there is a contested leadership ballot, it may be messy, possibly dragging out for weeks.

Under party rules, the ballot would be split between elected MPs, rank and file members and affiliated unions.

It is believed some MPs are overseas and scrambling to return for the Friday ballot after being caught off guard by Palaszczuk’s announcement.

Two months ago Palaszczuk, who is Australia’s longest-serving sitting premier, claimed she was determined to run for a fourth term, saying she had “heaps” left to prove.

However, after almost nine years as Premier and 12 as party leader, she conceded on Sunday it was time for renewal following months of poor poll results.

In her resignation speech, Palaszczuk endorsed Miles and described Dick as one of the best treasurers she had seen in the state. She did not mention Fentiman.

Fentiman is reportedly aligned with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and is believed to have strong support from the left.

Dick is believed to be with the Australian Workers Union-aligned right, Palaszczuk’s faction.

Palaszczuk will meet Queensland Governor Jeannette Young on Friday to officially tender her resignation. If a replacement is sorted out by the Labor caucus, they will also be there to be sworn in as Queensland’s 40th premier.

Whoever gets the nod as Palaszczuk’s replacement, big shoes await.

Palaszczuk is the last of the COVID-era state leaders, after going from an opposition with a mere seven seats to claiming the 2015 election in one of the great political upsets.

She became the first woman to lead a party to three state election victories after emerging triumphant in 2020.

“A week in politics is a long time but can I tell you nine years feels like an eternity,” Palaszczuk said on Sunday.

She will also depart her Inala seat at the end of the month, prompting a byelection.

ALP national president Wayne Swan, a Queenslander, said on Monday he thought Miles would be a good premier.

“He probably is the frontrunner, but it’s not for me to nominate who’s going to win the caucus ballot,” he told Nine’s Today program on Monday.

Swan also rejected questions about the timing of Palacaszuk’s announcement with Tropical Cyclone Jasper to cross the Queensland coast by midweek.

Deputy Opposition Leader Jarrod Bleijie said it did not matter who took over.

“The ringmaster may change but the same clowns are there,” he said.

“Queenslanders should decide who the premier is, not power-hungry Labor ministers.”

– with AAP

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