Deputy premier set to face challenge for Qld leadership

By Laine Clark and Fraser Barton
Updated December 11 2023 - 8:40pm, first published 8:35pm
Health minister Shannon Fentiman is the latest to bid to become Queensland's next premier. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)
Health minister Shannon Fentiman is the latest to bid to become Queensland's next premier. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

A messy leadership battle may yet be avoided despite Shannon Fentiman joining Steven Miles in the race to become Queensland's next premier.

A day after Annastacia Palaszczuk's shock resignation, Ms Fentiman, the state's health minister, confirmed she would contest the Labor leadership.

She lines up against Mr Miles - the Deputy Premier - who was quick to declare his nomination for the top job soon after the outgoing premier personally endorsed him on Sunday.

Treasurer Cameron Dick has also been linked to a leadership tilt.

"Now is the time for renewal and that means we may have to do some things differently," Ms Fentiman told reporters on Monday.

"I believe I am best placed to lead that change, and so will be nominating to be the next premier of this great state."

Mr Miles was considered the front runner with support from the biggest group in Labor's dominant left faction, the United Workers Union.

But Ms Fentiman - also from the left - said she wouldn't be stepping up if she didn't have "significant support".

"The question for MPs this week is who can take us forward and who can win the next election," she said.

Mr Miles and Ms Fentiman appeared to be on a collision course with caucus set to gather on Friday to endorse its new parliamentary leader ahead of the October 2024 election.

If a single candidate does not emerge before then a contested leadership ballot could drag on for weeks.

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

But Mr Dick - from Labor's right faction - may yet help avoid that scenario.

The Treasurer reportedly met with both Mr Miles and Ms Fentiman on Monday to hear their premier pitch amid speculation he will back the most convincing candidate on a joint ticket.

Mr Miles reportedly earlier offered the deputy leadership to Ms Fentiman but was knocked back.

Labor's administrative committee met on Monday night to formally open leadership nominations.

Ms Fentiman described Ms Palaszczuk as a "Labor giant" and an inspiration for women before detailing her agenda on Monday, highlighting youth crime, housing and Olympic infrastructure transparency.

"The next election is going to be tough, but I am the right person to lead us," she said.

Mr Miles fronted the media on Monday instead of the outgoing premier for an update on Tropical Cyclone Jasper, but was tightlipped when quizzed about the leadership.

"My focus today is absolutely 100 per cent on the safety of Queenslanders on making sure we are adequately prepared for the cyclone," he said.

"You all know my position. I issued a statement yesterday. I said that I wanted to be the premier of the state."

Ms Palaszczuk - Australia's longest-serving sitting premier - backed Mr Miles on Sunday, saying it was time for renewal after almost nine years as premier and 12 as party leader.

The premier is set to meet with Queensland Governor Jeannette Young on Friday to officially tender her resignation.

If a replacement is sorted out by the Labor caucus, that person will also attend and be sworn in as the state's 40th premier.

Ms Palaszczuk went from an opposition with seven seats to claiming the 2015 election.

She went on to become the first woman to lead a party to three state election victories.

Ms Palaszczuk will also depart her Inala seat at the end of the month, prompting a by-election.

Australian Associated Press