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Annastacia Palaszczuk asks for privacy after media photograph her during Italian holiday

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has asked for privacy after being tracked down by news photographers while on holidays in Italy.

The premier flew out of the country with her surgeon partner on Friday to attend a medical conference in Naples.

Photographers working for News Corp were reportedly involved in a heated exchange with the holidaying leader.

In a post shared on Facebook on Wednesday morning, Palaszczuk asked for privacy, saying that “everyone is entitled to leave”.

“I ask that the media respects my privacy. Steven Miles is acting premier. I return on September 11,” she said.

The acting leader is also outside the state, attending the Boao Forum for Asia conference in Western Australia until he returns Friday.

Miles described the photographs as “disgraceful”.

“No one deserves to be harassed or have their privacy invaded by photographers when they’re on leave,” he said on Facebook.

“No one has worked harder for Queenslanders than the Premier.”

Ministers have spend days denying rumours of a leadership challenge, amid criticism over the the government’s performance and last week’s suspension of the Human Rights Act.

In a Gold Coast press conference, the health minister, Shannon Fentiman, told journalists the premier “deserves a break”.

“She works incredibly hard, as we all do,” she said. “And I think everyone can agree that everyone deserves a break from time to time.

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“We’re all here, getting on with the job.”

Fentiman, long been mooted as Palaszczuk’s successor, said she’s “not interested in becoming premier”.

Asked about reports that the premier had complained of health issues when confronted by photographers, the health minister said she hadn’t been aware of any.

“I wasn’t aware that the premier had health issues but clearly she has said that she does and I think we all hope that the premier’s health improves,” she said.

“I think that everyone deserves a break and everyone deserves a chance to look after their health.”

Representing one of Labor’s safest seats in the state, Palaszczuk has been leader of the party since March 2012, after the party was nearly wiped out by Campbell Newman in an election days earlier. She has led the party to victory at three consecutive elections.

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