A challenge on Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's leadership by former leader Kevin Rudd could be coming sooner rather than later.

The Australian is reporting there could be a challenge on Gillard, who continues to flounder in the polls, before the March 24 Queensland election.

Prior to the Australia Day confrontation near the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the paper said Labor MPs had an understanding the leadership would not be an issue until at least April or May.

Now supporters of Foreign Minister Mr Rudd are suggesting a tilt for the leadership could happen within the next eight weeks.


"The odds are there won't be anything until after March 24 but it is still possible something could happen before then to cause a leadership spill," one Labor MP told The Australian.

"There are three scenarios: there could be an overwhelming movement next week when we all get back to parliament; the Prime Minister could call for a ballot; or the mood of hysteria could build (to) where another mistake could spark a challenge."

Former Labor Party leader and opposition leader Simon Crean earlier this week attacked Rudd for not being a "team player", further fuelling speculation Mr Rudd will make a move for the party's leadership.

Ms Gillard, who rolled Mr Rudd to become the Prime Minister in 2010, has failed to keep the party ahead in the polls. In the latest Newspoll, Labor's two-party preferred vote sits at 46 per cent, compared to the coalition's 54 per cent. She is still preferred to Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, although her approval rating dropped from 36 per cent to 33 per cent since the last poll a month ago.

However the first Galaxy poll of the year, published in the Daily Telegraph earlier this week, found 52 per cent of the voters preferred Mr Rudd as Prime Minister, compared to 30 per cent for Ms Gillard.

- NZ Herald Online staff