Deputy Premier Steven Miles
Steven Miles is on his way to become Queensland premier after a leadership contender stepped aside. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

Clear road for Miles as rival bows out of premier race

December 12, 2023

The path is clear for Steven Miles to become Queensland’s next premier after rival Shannon Fentiman promptly ended her leadership tilt.

He is set to replace Annastacia Palaszczuk in the top job with Cameron Dick as his deputy amid speculation that a backroom deal with unions sealed Ms Fentiman’s fate.

Ms Fentiman will remain as health minister under Mr Miles after her campaign for the top job ended almost as quickly as it started.

Barely 12 hours after putting her hand up for premier, Ms Fentiman on Tuesday withdrew it and backed Mr Miles, the current deputy premier.

Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman.
 Shannon Fentiman has bowed out of the race to replace Annastacia Palaszaczuk as Queensland premier. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

Mr Miles, 46, should emerge from Friday’s caucus meeting as Labor’s new leader with no other challengers in sight.

He will become Queensland’s 40th premier, replacing Ms Palaszczuk following her shock resignation on Sunday after almost nine years in the top job.

“Yesterday I asked Cameron Dick to join me as my deputy in a leadership team that we will take to the Labor Party caucus on Friday,” Mr Miles said.

“I’m grateful that he is supporting me. We have been friends for a long time. 

“We share our vision for Queensland, one that government’s job is to build for the future.”

Mr Dick will also remain the state’s treasurer.

Mr Miles flagged cabinet changes after Friday’s caucus meeting but would not be drawn on Transport Minister Mark Bailey’s future. 

Cameron Dick (left) and Steven Miles
 Treasurer Cameron Dick (left) is set to be deputy premier to new leader Steven Miles. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe on Tuesday said he did not expect a cabinet position because he is due to retire before the October 2024 poll. 

Mr Miles was quick to declare his nomination for the top job soon after the outgoing premier endorsed him during Sunday’s tearful resignation.

Ms Fentiman put herself in the running on Monday afternoon, saying she had “significant support”.

But she promptly withdrew her bid, avoiding a potentially messy leadership battle.

“It is clear that a majority of Labor members of parliament will support Steven Miles to be the next leader of the Labor Party and therefore the next premier of Queensland,” she said in a statement.

“As a result I will not be standing as a candidate for the Labor leadership when caucus meets on Friday.

“I want to congratulate Steven and offer my support in the work ahead.”

Mr Miles was considered the frontrunner with the support of the biggest group in Labor’s dominant left faction, the United Workers Union (UWU).

Annastacia Palaszczuk
 Annastacia Palaszczuk will officially step down as Queensland premier on Friday. Image by Russell Freeman/AAP PHOTOS 

Mr Dick is from Labor’s right faction aligned to the Australian Workers’ Union.

It is believed Mr Dick’s AWU faction agreed to get behind Mr Miles after brokering a deal with the deputy premier’s UWU contingent during late night talks.

That effectively sunk Ms Fentiman’s bid.

Mr Miles would not elaborate on what role the unions played in his ascension.

“The arrangement, if you want to call it that, I asked Cameron to serve as my deputy and to remain as the treasurer and that is the agreement we have,” he said.

Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton on Tuesday described Mr Miles as a “premier for the union bosses”.

“Somebody in the Labor caucus…rightly pointed out that if Steven Miles becomes premier … he will be completely and utterly owned by … the union movement,” he said.

“And that is not what Queensland has voted for.

“It demonstrates that Steven Miles is a premier for the union bosses, not for the people of Queensland.”