Today’s resignation by John Anderson has set in train momentum for
Government and Opposition front bench reshuffles. Moments ago Kim
Beazley announced his reshuffle, with bumbling Immigration spokesman
Laurie Ferguson tipped to be axed and prominent back bencher
Lindsay Tanner to be promoted along with new South Australian Senator
Annette Hurley.

John Howard might be tempted to use Anderson’s resignation to refresh
his own front bench. But Beazley’s problems are more immediate, and
he will attempt to solve them in the next 24 hours with a fresh
front bench team.

Beazley was forced to intervene in Ferguson’s increasingly confused
handling of his portfolio this week – and this is seen as the catalyst
for bringing the reshuffle forward. Beazley had earlier committed
to retaining the unbalanced and under performing front bench he inherited
from Mark Latham.

But it has become painfully clear that the party cannot afford to have
some of its best talent lying fallow because of Mark Latham’s personal
whims. It’s not certain who else will lose out apart from Ferguson –
but it’s expected Beazley will share the jobs more evenly around.
For instance, Stephen Smith’s mega-portfolio will be stripped down, so
he can concentrate on attacking Howard’s IR reforms.

The timing for Howard is perfect. There is speculation the PM got wind
of Beazley’s planned reshuffle and urged Anderson to bring forward his
own resignation to cash in on Labor’s disorder.

Beazley, Howard and Anderson were all at last night’s annual Parliament
House social highlight, the Press Gallery Ball. Anderson’s staffers
quietly briefed selected journalists on their boss’s resignation –
allowing them to secure favourable media coverage, such as this glowing
tribute from The Australian’s Dennis Shanahan: Anderson exits with job done.