Simon Crean had become leader of the Labor Party and opposition leader unopposed at a leadership ballot on 11 November 2001 held to replace Kim Beazley, who fought two elections as Labor leader at the 1998 and 2001 elections. Crean had also been deputy leader between 1998 and 2001 and was succeeded as deputy leader by Jenny Macklin.
Despite a successful budget reply and the controversy surrounding Howard-appointed Governor-GeneralPeter Hollingworth, Crean had a low popularity rating throughout 2003. With constant rumours over a possible challenge plaguing his leadership, Crean called a leadership spill to be held on June 16, 2003.
However, by November, Crean had lost more ground to John Howard as preferred prime minister. On 27 November 2003, a section of Crean’s senior colleagues informed him that he had lost support and should step down as leader. After “sleep[ing] on it”, Crean announced the following day that he would resign as leader. In doing so, Crean became the first Labor leader to have not contested an election since Billy Hughes was expelled from the Labor party in 1916.
Latham went on to lose the federal election in October 2004. Latham stayed on for a few months as leader until January 2005 when he stood down citing ill health. Beazley then returned to the leadership unopposed and remained leader until December 2006 when he was ousted by Kevin Rudd.