The Liberal Party in Australia’s Northern Territory have delayed the process to replace a minister who stepped down over anti-gay slurs.

Northern Territory Deputy Chief Minister Dave Tollner made homophobic remarks in a meeting about Joshua Higgins – the son of Daly MP Gary Higgins – labelling him a “shirt lifter” and a “pillow biter”.

Last week Mr Tollner agreed to stand down as a minister over the controversy, after Chief Minister Adam Giles condemned his comments as “inappropriate” and “not acceptable”.

However, the Liberal Party has today opted not to immediately replace Mr Tollner, with the government postponing finding a replacement to focus on legislation in parliament.

The territory’s Chief Minister has currently taken on the duties of his deputy, while Mr Tollner intends to remain as a backbench MP.

He told ABC: “We’ve got 13 Members of Parliament, there are 12 people who should be vying for the deputy’s position.

“Everybody wants to stand up and be one of the leaders within the team and set forth their vision for the Northern Territory.

“I am under no urgency to have a deputy, we will go through Parliament this week preferably without a deputy and we’ll just get on and just do business as usual.”

However, Labor Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie said: “I can’t understand why a chief minister wouldn’t want an able deputy sitting by them during a parliamentary sittings week.

“It would be extraordinary, unprecedented in any Australian parliament to go in without a deputy.”

“The fact that Dave Tollner is no longer there is a clear sign that Adam Giles’s leadership is extremely shaky and a few of us wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t on very short notice.”