Gillard continues rise in polls
The latest Newspoll shows Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has gained support from voters as preferred Labor leader.
The poll published in The Australian newspaper is the first since last week's budget and shows Ms Gillard has cut Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's lead from 25 percentage points to just five.
Mr Rudd's standing as preferred prime minister stands at 45 per cent, down from his level of 57 per cent in February.
Support for his deputy jumped from 32 per cent to 40 per cent in the same period.
The poll also shows the Coalition has maintained its lead over the Government on primary votes, 43 per cent to 37 per cent.
The Opposition has also achieved consecutive 50 per cent or higher on a two-party-preferred basis for the first time in four years.
In a separate Galaxy poll published in The Daily Telegraph, 45 per cent of voters backed Mr Rudd against 34 per cent for Ms Gillard as preferred Labor leader.
The ongoing decline in Mr Rudd's popularity fuelled speculation last week that Labor may move to install Ms Gillard as leader before this year's election.
Ms Gillard laughed off the suggestions.
"Not one individual in the Labor Party has spoken to me [about that]," she said last week.
"I'm focused on my job as Deputy Prime Minister."
Ms Gillard says tough decisions are behind the Government's slide and she still supports Mr Rudd as prime minister.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has told Macquarie Radio he believes he can win the votes of those who are disillusioned with the Government.
"We have to have a government. It will either be a Labor government or a Coalition government, and I think that eventually all of those that conclude that the Labor Government is not up to the task will come to us," he said.
"But what I've got to try to do in the meantime is demonstrate that we will be a credible alternative, that if you change the government life will be different and better."