Beattie’s resignation will mean a big change for Queensland politics — he has been a dominant figure for a long time now. But it may mean nothing much changes with respect to the government and how it operates in the short term. In his resignation speech, Beattie anointed his deputy Anna Blight as his successor, but of course it will take some time to establish her pattern of operating as a Premier.

One likely outcome of this decision is that it will return some hope to the opposition. They’ve struggled against Peter Beattie for the whole time he’s been in office. I’m not saying they will do a whole lot better with Anna Bligh as premier but it will almost certainly renew their vigour to oppose the government in an attempt to bring it down.

While nobody expected the decision to come today, a few months ago Beattie did foreshadow that he was thinking about his future and that he would make an announcement within a year. Obviously, he has made it a lot sooner than that. Perhaps he always intended to make it sooner than that. He has always said that he’s there to do a job and not stay in the role forever.

His decision probably also reflects the fact that being a politician, indeed a state premier, is a very taxing business these days. Although he hasn’t shown outward signs of ill-health, there has been some speculation that his work has put strains on his health and his private life and he’s now decided he needs to have a break from it.

Beattie is a fairly straight shooter as politicians go and that’s likely how he will be remembered. But before we can properly see his legacy, we need the dust to settle. There have been many controversies along the way – Queensland health, Jayant Patel, the water crisis and so on. But I suspect he will be remembered as someone who dominated the political landscape during his time, and someone who attempted to bring a certain level of integrity to government. Whether, finally, it will be agreed that’s what he achieved remains to be seen.

That leaves us with the question of how this will play for Rudd and his march to election day. My feeling is that it won’t affect the Labor Party at a federal level. The effect it may have is to dampen down the issue of Queensland local government amalgamations. Beattie has been the main protagonist: with him out of the way the heat may be taken out of that issue. But I doubt, when push comes to shove, that Beattie resigning will have any affect on the Federal election.