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'Time for renewal': Labour leadership contest hots up as Fentiman makes her run

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Health Minister Shannon Fentiman has declared she is the best person to take over as Queensland Premier, setting up a leadership showdown with her factional colleague, Deputy Premier Steven Miles.

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Fentiman called a media conference on Monday afternoon to announce her bid, saying she had “significant support” within Labor Party to become leader.

“I am here because I believe I am the best person to take us to the next election,” she said.

“I think we all want to see a new leader as quickly as possible. I think that’s in the best interests of the party and the government going forward.”

The move puts her on a collission course with Miles, who has won the endorsement of outgoing Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Fentiman, who was elected to Parliament in 2015, has been one of the Government’s best performers in various ministries before taking over the troubled Health portfolio earlier this year.

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

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.

There is speculation Fentiman and Treasurer Cameron Dick are gauging support to campaign together on a joint ticket.

Labor’s administrative committee is set to meet on Monday night to formally open leadership nominations, with caucus to gather on Friday to endorse its new parliamentary leader ahead of the October 2024 election.

A contested leadership ballot 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 the premier’s call.

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 has conceded it is time for renewal following months of poor poll results.

The premier endorsed Miles and described Dick as one of the best treasurers she had seen in the state, but did not mention Fentiman in her resignation address.

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.

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 is also set to attend and be sworn in as the state’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,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Sunday.

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

ALP national president Wayne Swan, a Queenslander, on Monday said 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.

Mr Swan also rejected questions about the timing of Palacaszuk’s announcement with Tropical Cyclone Jasper set to cross the Queensland coast by mid-week.

Deputy Opposition Leader Jarrod Bleijie said it would not matter who took over as premier.

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

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

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