Is Julia Gillard facing a revolt anew? The prime minister herself dismissed the restiveness within Labor, firmly declaring that whatever challenges there were in the party had been resolved when Kevin Rudd was vanquished earlier this year.
"I'm not engaging in all of these hypotheticals," Ms Gillard told Fairfax, seemingly secured that her predecessor has been effectively reduced into oblivion at the backbench of the Parliament.
However, not everyone in Labor agrees with her, and chief of the 'dissenting' party members is Labor whip Joel Fitzgibbon.
On Monday, Mr Fitzgibbon stirred speculations of a likely Labor leadership spill when he opined that as proven by history, "political leaders who poll badly long enough don't remain political leaders."
He was of course alluding to latest polls that strongly suggested a resounding defeat for the Labor government come the national election next year.
The numbers on all fronts were against Labor and Ms Gillard, Newspoll said, with ruling party consistently trailing the Coalition both on primary votes and two-party basis.
At the same time, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott appears to be bolting away from Ms Gillard as the preferred Prime Minister by more Australians despite the latter engaging in campaigns that attempt to explain her government programs and policies.
Only one man surpassed the two in attracting voters' interests, earlier polls said, Mr Rudd but he had long retreated to the backbench when his last attempt in February only mustered 31 votes from the Labor caucus.
He remains popular though among Aussies and Mr Fitzgibbon seems to be picking up on that note by telling ABC yesterday that "populism matters in politics ... no matter what political party you're talking about."
Also, he took a jab on the sagging popularity of Ms Gillard by stressing that "if leaders remain unpopular long enough they'll inevitably stop leading the party."
He added that he could only hope for the Labor leader to add up on her poll numbers soon enough, seemingly leaving the door open on whether Ms Gillard will be the one facing off with Mr Abbott on late 2013.
The Coalition immediately picked up where the Labor whip had left, with Liberal frontbencher stating today in Sydney that "Joel Fitzgibbon was sending a very clear message that Julia Gillard's days are numbered as Prime Minister."
Mr Pyne added that the Labor official must be sacked because "rather than corralling the numbers for Julia Gillard he is doing so against her."
But Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan dismissed today that Labor is again being rocked by leadership issues, insisting that the government will rely heavily on its reform agenda and not on popularity.
"Keeping your eye on the opinion polls is not what leadership is all about," the Treasurer was reported by the Australian Associated Press (AAP) as saying on Tuesday.
"At the end of the day, (reform programs) are the matters ... which will count at the next federal election," Mr Swan said.
And the man being pushed to challenge Ms Gillard for another round had so far remained mum on the matter.
The only clue that Mr Rudd would stand for another battle came from his wife, Therese Rein, who ABC said has hinted earlier this month that her husband can only be prodded to lead Labor anew if the job would redound to Australia's welfare.
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