Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk talks to the media
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced she is calling it a day. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

‘Time for renewal’: Queensland premier Palaszczuk quits

Samantha Lock December 10, 2023

Annastacia Palaszczuk is bowing out after almost nine years as Queensland’s Labor premier, saying she’s “run a marathon” and it’s time for renewal.

The 54-year-old was emotional as she delivered the shock news at a snap news conference on Sunday, saying she will serve out the week as premier and resign as the MP for Inala by the end of the year. 

“Standing alongside and standing up for the people of Queensland has been the honour of my life,” she told reporters in Brisbane.

She is the last of the COVID-era premiers to leave office, following the most recent departure of Daniel Andrews, her Labor counterpart in Victoria who walked away from the top job in September.

Ms Palaszczuk said she contemplated quitting while on a recent holiday in Italy with her partner, Reza Adib, and finally decided at last week’s national cabinet meeting, ending months of leadership speculation.

“I was sitting there thinking this is the fourth prime minister. There are all these new faces around the cabinet table. We got a great deal for Queensland – $4 billion – and I thought to myself, renewal is a good thing,” she said. 

“When I led this party from an opposition of just seven members, I said that the first election will be like climbing Mount Everest. 

“I went on to climb that mountain twice more. I don’t need to do it again,” she said. 

“I have given it my all and I’ve run a marathon.” 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
 Annastacia Palaszczuk led Labor to three victories in Queensland. Image by John Pryke/AAP PHOTOS 

Ms Palaszczuk said she would finish the week in the role with caucus to choose her successor on Friday, while endorsing her deputy Steven Miles, saying he would “make an excellent premier”.

In a Facebook post on Sunday afternoon, Mr Miles confirmed he will stand for the party leadership.

“Much has been achieved over nine years but there’s so much left to do,” he said while pledging he would work to create more homes, lift energy and jobs targets and reform the state’s health system.

Ms Palaszczuk’s decision comes after a series of bad polls and the unannounced Italian holiday that fuelled leadership speculation earlier this year.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while and it’s the right time and it’s time for renewal,” she said.

“I gave it everything but I’ve got to the end of the year.”

Ms Palaszczuk said she was leaving Queensland in good shape with “lower taxes, lower debt, low unemployment”.

“Our future is brighter than it has ever been.”

Ms Palaszczuk was sworn in as premier of a minority government in February 2015 after defeating Campbell Newman’s Liberal National government after just one term.

After campaigning against public service cuts, she became the first female premier elected from opposition in Labor’s dramatic return to power after the Bligh government’s wipe-out in 2012.

In 2020, Ms Palaszczuk helped Labor comfortably secure a third term on the back of her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, making her the first woman to lead a party to three state election victories.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described Ms Palaszczuk as “a Labor hero”.

“She retires as a Labor hero, a three time election winner, Australia’s longest-serving female premier and – above all else – a champion for Queenslanders,” he said in a statement.

Her leadership “brought Queensland Labor back from the political brink” and put Queensland in a position of national leadership, he said.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong described Ms Palaszczuk as “a game changer”.

“The first woman to become a state premier from opposition – and the first to win three elections,” she posted on X.

Queensland Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said “regardless of politics, nine years as premier deserves acknowledgement and respect”.