Queensland’s deputy premier, Steven Miles, has refused to answer questions about his bid to replace Annastacia Palaszczuk, while conducting a press conference on the imminent arrival of tropical cyclone Jasper.
Miles has taken over the position of chair of the state’s disaster management committee, but is not acting premier, after Palaszczuk announced on Sunday her intention to resign at the end of this week after nine years in office.
Appearing alongside emergency services leaders in Brisbane on Monday, Miles repeatedly refused to confirm if he has the numbers to replace Paluszczuk, after announcing on Sunday his intention to run for the job.
“I won’t be spending the day campaigning, I’ll be spending the day focused on ensuring that we are well prepared for this cyclone, ensuring Queenslanders have what they need,” Miles said.
“I think that the best way to demonstrate to all Queenslanders, including our MPs, what kind of leader I will be is by demonstrating that kind of focus on delivering for Queenslanders.”
Cyclone Jasper weakened to a category one storm overnight but is still expected to cause damaging winds and possible flooding in far north Queensland.
Miles, a member of the dominant Labor left faction, was the only MP to have announced his candidacy at the time he spoke, however health minister Shannon Fentiman has a press conference scheduled for 2pm AEST and it is expected she will announce her intention to campaign for the leadership.
Right-faction treasurer Cameron Dick is also understood to be canvasing support.
Labor members are keen to ensure the leadership can be thrashed out in caucus, to avoid the prospect of a contested ballot, where party rules dictate a weeks-long process that takes into account union and Labor member votes.
Palaszczuk endorsed her deputy as her preferred successor on Sunday.
Miles told media his focus on Monday was “absolutely 100% on the safety of Queenslanders” bracing for the imminent cyclone.
The energy minister, Mick de Brenni, and minister for agriculture, Mark Furner, attended the same press conference, held at the Kedron emergency services complex.
Asked if he backed Miles as leader, De Brenni also refused to answer, telling media his priority was the likely loss of power in north Queensland due to the cyclone.
He said when pressed: “You’ve seen extraordinary leadership from the deputy premier already this morning. We’ve got a job to do today.”
Miles also did not answer questions about when he learned the premier would resign.