Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk retires from politics

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has announced her retirement from politics, saying she had “given my all” and “now is the time for me to leave”.

Palaszczuk made the announcement at a press conference on Sunday following months of speculation about her future.

“Queensland is in good shape,” she told Guardian Australia. “Which is why now is the time for me to leave.”

Palaszczuk will officially step down as premier next week and will leave parliament at the end of the month. Her successor – currently a three-way contest between the deputy premier, Steven Miles, the health minister, Shannon Fentiman and treasurer Cameron Dick – is yet to be decided.

Related: Australia news live: Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk retires from politics

At a press conference on Sunday, Palaszczuk said the decision was for her colleagues but she also endorsed Miles as her successor, saying she believed he “will make an excellent premier”.

Palaszczuk said she made the decision to retire while trying to find a time to take a break with her partner. Her last holiday resulted in her being hounded by some media over when she would be announcing her retirement.

“If you were wondering, I turned my mind to this when I was trying to have a holiday with my partner,” Palaszczuk said. “Everyone deserves a break.

“Finally, my mind was made up at national cabinet last week when I saw so many new faces.

“Renewal is a good thing.”

Palaszczuk said she had led the party opposition of just seven members and that the first election would be like “climbing Mt Everest”.

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

Palaszczuk was first elected as premier in 2015, leading Queensland Labor to a victory just one term after the party was reduced to just seven seats.

She became the first woman leader in Australia to be re-elected and led the first majority woman cabinet in Australia.

At a press conference on Sunday, an emotional Palaszczuk said: “I fought the good fight, I’ve given everything, but now is the time for me to find out what else life has to offer.

“I would like to thank my mum, dad, my sisters, my nieces and nephew. Most of all for all their love and support. They’re looking forward to having me home.”

Palaszczuk also said she had spoken to another pandemic-era premier, former Western Australian leader, Mark McGowan, before she announced her decision.

The Queensland premier’s resignation means the ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, is the last remaining state or territory leader from the peak pandemic period.

‘A Labor hero’

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, described Palaszczuk, as “a Labor hero” and “a champion for Queensland” who had a long list of policy achievements, from energy and social policy to the recent push for a national firearms register.

Queensland’s opposition leader, David Crisafulli, said “regardless of politics, nine years as premier deserves acknowledgement and respect”.

“I want to thank Annastacia Palaszczuk for her service and wish her well in her retirement,” Crisafulli said.

The recently elected Victorian premier, Jacinta Allen, said Palaszczuk “showed a generation of young girls that female leadership is not only possible, but entirely normal”.

The defence minister, Richard Marles, said Palaszczuk’s legacy would endure for many years including in 2032, when the state is planning to host the Olympics.

The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, also praised Palaszczuk’s leadership and described her as a game-changer.

“The first woman to become a state premier from opposition – and the first to win three elections. She did this with dedicated leadership on health, education, housing and the environment,” Wong said.

The next Queensland election will be held in October next year.