Victorian Labor MPs have arrived at state parliament ahead of a meeting that is tipped to see Jacinta Allan become the state’s new premier – despite a brewing factional battle over who will become deputy.
Allan, the state’s deputy leader, is expected to be backed by the Labor caucus at a midday meeting to replace the outgoing premier, Daniel Andrews, who will officially resign on Wednesday afternoon.
Guardian Australia has confirmed the state’s treasurer, Tim Pallas, planned to nominate for deputy premier.
Pallas, formerly a leader in the right faction, defected to the left late last year. Two Labor MPs said he told a meeting of the socialist left faction that he intended to run for deputy.
It comes after the left and right of the party failed to strike a deal overnight on the deputy position.
While Andrews and Allan are both members of the socialist left faction, the two most senior positions in the party are usually shared by the left and right of the party. Guardian Australia understands while many Labor MPs initially called for a return to this convention, some within the left were urging the party to appoint a “loyal” deputy.
The public transport minister, Ben Carroll, is the leading contender on the right for the position, though the police minister, Anthony Carbines, had also been floated on Tuesday night.
Arriving at parliament on Wednesday morning, Allan refused to be drawn on the leadership speculation and said she would respect the caucus process. She was joined by her upper house colleague and factional ally, Sheena Watt, as she walked into parliament.
Cabinet minister Lily D’Ambrosio threw her support behind Allan, a factional ally, while ruling out running for deputy premier on Wednesday morning.
Andrews on Tuesday announced he would formally step down as both premier and the member for Mulgrave at 5pm on Wednesday, saying he had begun to think about what life would be like were he not in the all-consuming role.
He said leading the state had been “the honour and privilege” of his life and paid tribute to his wife, Catherine, and their three children, as well as his staff, former premiers Steve Bracks and John Brumby, his deputies and Pallas, who he said had been in his leadership team for nine years.
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, led the praise for Andrews, describing him as “a person of deep conviction, great compassion and fierce determination”.
Victoria’s next premier is expected be chosen by about 70 Labor state MPs at a midday caucus meeting on Wednesday. It was widely expected that Allan, Andrews’ deputy, would be elected unopposed to the position. According to some MPs, party rules could see it take up to three business days to become official.
In a factional meeting on Tuesday night, the left war gamed how this could be overcome. They floated the possibility of an interim acting premier – possibly Pallas – for the three-day period.
Allan confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that she would nominate for the leadership.
It was also unclear under the party’s rules whether, if another candidate was nominated, it could go to a vote of Labor members. Most MPs approached by the Guardian were keen to avoid such a drawn-out process.
But the deputy leadership is expected to be a tighter contest and could go to a vote of MPs, which could be held on a later date.
“My view – and it is shared by most MPs – is that common sense should prevail and that Allan is elected leader unopposed and Carroll is elected deputy unopposed,” one left-aligned MP had said on Tuesday afternoon.
“To go down the other route – even if the left have the numbers for it – will hurt us in the long-term.”
Another Labor source said ensuring the “stability” of the party room following Andrews’ departure was vital.
“While it’s great for the left to have the two most senior leadership positions in the lower house, and the leader of the house position, it is not sustainable,” the source said.
One Labor MP suggested it would be ideal for Allan to have an “ally” in the deputy position. They said the right could be offered an extra ministry and parliamentary secretary position, as well as a seat on cabinet’s expenditure review committee for such a trade-off.