5 October 2012
The Prime Minister's slight rebound in the opinion polls has prompted some political observers to suggest her leadership is safe through to next year and even until the election.
While that trajectory continues the assessment might well be right.
The former PM Kevin Rudd may have different ideas. He's gradually been reviving his public presence.
In the past couple of weeks he's been visiting supportive backbenchers, spoken at conferences on foreign policy and appeared on The Project on Channel 10 with his old sparring partner Joe Hockey.
The increased tempo of the Rudd routine is not going unnoticed.
If the polling doesn't continue to improve for Labor, the message from the 26th Prime Minister of Australia to his fellow members of Caucus is that he stands ready to replace the 27th PM.
Beyond the polling there are significant questions that Labor MP's will be mulling over.
Has Kevin Rudd shown enough contrition for his dogmatic approach during his first stint as PM? Will they get Kevin '07 or Kevin '09?
The other question is will the hypothetical bounce in the polls on the prospect of a Rudd return actually hold up in reality?
A Cabinet Minister told me last week the numbers remain roughly 30 rusted on to Rudd, 30 rusted on to Gillard and 30 that are open to change.
Until the recent rebound in the polls, the Minister said the wavering 30 in the middle had been taking a fresh look at the past - that is their former leader.
The Minister said voters are craving an end to the acrimonious tone of the political debate - suggesting he's terrified of a return to Malcom Turnbull as leader by the Coalition.
Terrified of the prospect of a Turnbull return but not expecting it - the argument being that he would be able to provide a leadership above the fray, devoid of the relentless animosity inherent in contemporary Australian politics.
As an aside, albeit a powerful one, the Minister said Rudd could potentially do the same.
If the polls continue to improve for Labor and Tony Abbott's approval rating remains below 30% the nerves for the Coalition will set in.
While I don't think there's any imminent risk for Mr Abbott's leadership, where uncertainty emerges so could a lack of discipline by MP's who would likely be rattled by the prospect of losing an unloseable election.
Tony Abbott has done well to keep a lid on simmering tensions between some of his Liberals and the Nationals, particularly Senator Barnaby Joyce.
That task would be made all the more difficult if the Coalition's numbers start to come off.
In terms of their electoral prospects you'd much rather be in Tony Abbott's position than Julia Gillard's. The same can be said of Mr Abbott's hold on the leadership.
For the moment, both leaders would feel relatively comfortable about where they are at.
The turbulent last few years of Australian politics suggest however that the status quo is unlikely to continue uninterrupted through to the next poll.
Recent history also indicates it will be worth watching.
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