As Friday's anniversary of the coup that dumped Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister nears, embattled successor Julia Gillard is fighting to keep her increasingly fragile minority Government from sliding into a terminal spin.

The next election is more than two years away - providing the Labor Administration can last the distance - but unpopular policies, internecine warfare and disastrous polls are threatening disintegration for a party clinging to power by its fingernails.

Speculation is growing of a reverse coup by Rudd, attacked over the weekend by Labor MPs who believe he has begun a plan to undermine and eventually depose the Prime Minister, now less popular in the polls than her Foreign Minister.

But one of the key figures keeping Gillard in power after last August's hung election, independent New South Wales MP Rob Oakeshott, has warned that if Labor dumps Gillard, he will dump the Government.

Labor's public venting has added to the sense of a Government racing towards crisis, joining its highly unpopular proposal for a carbon tax and the morass that has trapped Gillard's policies on asylum seekers as a free king hit for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Abbott, previously trailing well behind Gillard, is now neck-and-neck as preferred Prime Minister, a Nielsen poll published in Fairfax newspapers at the weekend reported.

Unlike most new leaders, there was no post-election honeymoon for Gillard, whose ousting of Rudd is widely regarded as a stab on the back orchestrated by powerful factional bosses and is still resented by many voters, including Labor supporters.

Gillard tried to soften that perception through a weekend interview with the Daily Telegraph, in which she said she had dumped her support for Rudd and launched a leadership challenge because Labor had lost a sense of purpose and plan for the future.

"What I've done as Prime Minister is inject that sense of clarity of purpose," shesaid, denying she had been motivated by opinion polls.

Over a weekend that saw both Gillard and Rudd bombard the media, the Prime Minister also vowed to drive her carbon tax into law regardless of popular opinion, said she was not cowed by the latest polls, and was confident in her job.

"I feel very secure," she told reporters at the Queensland State Labor conference. "I have a plan for this country's future and my caucus colleagues are working with me to deliver that plan."

Rudd, meanwhile, was publicly backing Gillard - telling reporters speculating about a leadership challenge to "pop a mogodon" - and claiming to be both happy in, and focused on, the foreign policy challenges facing Australia.

He also dismissed reports of "screaming matches" with the Prime Minister.

But according to media reports he is planning an "assassination day" party for present and former staff on the anniversary of his ousting, and said Labor needed to wrest power back from the factional powerbrokers who had deposed him.

Rudd's interviews and appearances have angered pro-Gillard MPs, who have anonymously told reporters he was running a campaign to regain the prime ministership, with some labelling him a bully who should be sacked.

The rush of woes assailing Gillard has hammered her Government.

Last week a Newspoll in the Australian tracked Gillard's plummeting popularity and said the Opposition would easily win if an election were called now.

On Saturday a Nielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers held even worse news. Nielsen said Labor's primary vote had shrunk to 27 per cent - the lowest recorded by a major party in the 39-year history of the Nielsen poll - and the Opposition would win by a landslide an election were held today.

Gillard and Abbott were tied as preferred Prime Minister.

The Opposition is having a field day, launching new "lemon, lime and bitter" television and internet advertising that features Greens Leader Bob Brown as a lime running the Government, Rudd as a bandaged lemon and Gillard responsible for a "a bitter taste" in family mouths.

The Opposition is also ridiculing Rudd's denial of leadership ambitions, with frontbencher Christopher Pyne telling ABC TV: "The only thing Kevin Rudd hasn't done is a ride a unicycle into Question Time demanding the leadership back."

Abbott said Labor's policies, not Gillard, were responsible for its problems. "There's no point changing the leader. What this Government needs to do is change its policy."