Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian will contest the leadership and the deputy leadership of the NSW Liberal party in a joint ticket.
“We are contesting the leadership and deputy leadership of the NSW Liberal Party, with Mike Baird to become leader,” Ms Berejiklian said in a statement.
“We strongly encourage our colleagues to support this decision this afternoon.”
However, Ms Berejiklian will have some competition.
Community Services Minister Pru Goward has confirmed she plans to nominate for the Liberal deputy leader role.
“Yesterday was a terrible day for NSW. We lost one of our best premiers and a man who had been able to turn this state around,” she told reporters outside the state parliament in Sydney.
“There are a lot of discussions going on today.
“There are a number of possible contenders and I’m not going to speculate on any of them except to say that I will be nominating for the deputy leadership at this stage,” Ms Goward said.
Ms Baird and Ms Berejiklian met earlier on Thursday morning to discuss the party leadership and who would take over as premier from Barry O’Farrell who’s announced he’s stepping down.
The pair were keen on reaching a consensus to avoid a damaging split ahead of a party room meeting set down for 3pm, and disunity within Liberal ranks ahead of a state election next year.
Asked if she supported a Baird premiership, Ms Goward said the party needed to make a “quick decision” on the top job so that the coalition could get on with the job of governing.
“I think what we need is a balanced leadership team and I want to be part of that leadership team,” she said.
Planning Minister Brad Hazzard would not be drawn into speculating on the leadership.
“Whoever’s going to be leader will do a very good job for the state,” he told reporters.
At Thursday’s meeting, Liberal MPs will formally accept Mr O’Farrell’s resignation and confirm the new premier.
If Mr Baird is successful, as is currently expected, he will become the state’s 44th premier and its sixth in almost 10 years.
Mr Baird said earlier on Thursday that maintaining party unity was important.
“It is important that we all come together, clearly unity has been a hallmark of what we have been about in the past few years,” he told the Seven Network.
Mr O’Farrell has previously named Ms Berejiklian, one of the key leaders of the party’s Left faction, as the best candidate to succeed him.
But Mr Baird has the backing of Right faction MPs, who have been impressed with his aggressive push to privatise the state’s assets and boost the economy.
Mr Baird is the son of Bruce Baird, who was a lower house federal MP in John Howard’s government, and represents the northern beaches electorate of Manly.
Ms Berejiklian is the daughter of Armenian immigrants and holds the north shore electorate of Willoughby.
She entered the political scene as president of the Young Liberals and went on to become one of the better performing ministers in the O’Farrell government, managing the tough transport portfolio.
After the ballot, a ministerial reshuffle will be on the cards.
But, in line with a coalition agreement, the role of deputy premier will still be held by Nationals MP Andrew Stoner.
Mr O’Farrell resigned on Wednesday after giving misleading evidence about a $3000 bottle of Penfolds Grange Hermitage to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) the day before.