A few thoughts, not well organised, which I may update
* Labor has now changed leaders in five states, twice as a result of illness and three times because of a voluntary decision to retire, with no sign of any damage as a result. Such a string of smooth transitions is almost unprecedented in Australian political history where the rule is that all careers end in failure (defeat by the electorate or by a party rival, or resignation in disgrace)
* Following from the previous point, if the Federal Libs get the drubbing predicted by the opinion polls and Rudd doesn’t run rapidly into disaster, Labor will be established as the natural party of government. It’s hard to see how the Liberals, for whom success is the main raison d’etre could survive this for long
* I imagine Beattie’s departure will take the sting out of the council amalgamations issue in Queensland, which will be a gift to Kevin Rudd in a couple of marginal seats such as Herbert.
* Obviously, this has contributed to the pressure on Howard to follow Beattie’s example. I can’t see him caving in to this, nor can I see a last-minute switch to Costello doing the government any good. On the other hand, the way things are going, this is Costello’s last chance to be PM, if only for six weeks or so.