CANBERRA: Julia Gillard yesterday sat at the head of the Labor Cabinet for the first time as Prime Minister, with a packed agenda that in the next few weeks includes the selection of a new ministry, making peace with the miners, and setting a date for an election.

Her expected honeymoon has already begun. While party factional bosses were lacerated in media commentary, most opinion fell behind Gillard and warned Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of a rough ride ahead.

The day also brought a poll that was both poignant and encouraging: a 3 per cent rise for Labor's primary vote in the latest Morgan poll, taking it back to level pegging with the Opposition.

The poll was made during former leader Kevin Rudd's last weekend in power, and showed that on a two-party preferred basis his Government would have been returned to power.

Pollster Gary Morgan said a key factor in the result had been Rudd's optimism about a deal over the mining super-profits tax, a controversy that had helped to tip the former Prime Minister into terminal decline.

The poll and its findings would resonate with Gillard, who nominated an agreement with the miners as one of the first priorities of her new Government.

She has already met Treasurer Wayne Swan and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson to lay the groundwork for negotiations to be conducted during a truce that includes the withdrawal of rival television campaigns.

The new ministry has yet to be decided, but Gillard has made it clear that there will be no wholesale clearance to satisfy the factional leaders whose support ensured her election on Thursday.

But she has also promised a more inclusive process of consultation, rather than Rudd's autocratic style in which he made his own choices without traditional party input.

There are already two Cabinet issues to be addressed: a possible seat for Rudd, who will re-contest his seat and has offered to serve in any capacity Gillard sees fit, and the decision of Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner to retire.

Where Rudd would fit in has yet to be considered, although Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said yesterday he would be prepared to step aside to allow his former boss, previously a diplomat, to return to the portfolio he held in Opposition.

Tanner, who said he had decided to quit some time before Gillard's challenge, will be a serious loss to the Government.

On foreign policy, Gillard reaffirmed in her first press conference her strong support for the US alliance and Australia's commitment to Afghanistan, repeated in a conversation with President Barak Obama on Thursday night.

The White House said that during the call, which had followed a statement of congratulation from Obama, the two leaders had "underscored their shared commitment to work closely together on a broad range of global challenges confronting both countries, including Afghanistan".

The Opposition has attacked Labor for its ferocity in dumping Rudd, warned that Gillard will become the tool of factional bosses and the unions, and that nothing has changed other than the face at the top.

Abbott told Channel Nine he was ready for an early election: "I think if there is a honeymoon she will certainly rush to the polls because the powerbrokers who so brutally installed her did so because they want to give the public the impression something has changed."

An Essential poll reported in Sydney's Daily Telegraph said men preferred her to Rudd as Labor Leader by 47 per cent to 40 per cent, with stronger - 53 per cent to 25 per cent - support among women.

In a poll on the Melbourne Age website yesterday, 52 per cent of respondents believed Gillard would win. But another in the West Australian offered little backing for Labor.