John Robertson, who had done well by historical standards to survive for almost a full term as Opposition Leader – assisted, perhaps, by the undesirability of the job – has announced his resignation as New South Wales Labor leader. Robertson had been fatally weakened by the revelation yesterday that he performed a routine bit of electorate work in 2011 on behalf of constituent Man Haron Monis, who was already somewhat notorious for sending offensive letters to the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan, and more recently became immensely more so after perpetrating the Lindt cafe siege in Martin Place. Deputy leader Linda Burney is now filling his shoes in an acting capacity, but is not rated a contender when caucus meets to choose a new leader.

The two serious prospects are Michael Daley and Luke Foley, respectively members of the Right and the Left. Daley is by all accounts keen to take on the job, and has been for some time. Foley is generally rated more seriously as a long-term prospect, but whereas Daley holds a seat in the lower house in Bob Carr’s old electorate of Maroubra, Foley is stuck for the time being in the Legislative Council. The Campbell Newman precedent shows that need not be an insurmountable obstacle, provided a lower house seat can be arranged for him at the election, but Sean Nicholls of the Sydney Morning Herald offers the further qualification that Foley has “constantly rejected entreaties for family reasons”. The party room will meet to consider the matter on January 5.

UPDATE: Further background on the presumed leadership contest from James Robertson of the Sydney Morning Herald.

UPDATE 2: The Australian makes the best of the situation by bringing forward publication of the bi-monthly state Newspoll, by way of illustrating why Robertson’s position might have been so weak. The poll records a solid drop in his personal ratings since September-October, with approval down four points to 31% and disapproval up eight to 38%, and Mike Baird’s lead as preferred premier increasing from 52-17 to 56-17. Baird’s already excellent personal ratings improved still further, with approval up four to 60% and disapproval steady on 20%. On voting intention, the Coalition was up two points to 44% with Labor steady on 33% and the Greens down two to 11%, while the Coalition’s two-party lead was out from 55-45 to 56-44.

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