The Federal Opposition has leapt on rekindled Labor leadership tension to present Tony Abbott as the prime minister-in-waiting and renew its campaign of questioning the Gillard Government's legitimacy.
With a view to changing public perception of him, Mr Abbott used yesterday's resumption of Parliament to adopt a more statesmanlike persona.
The Opposition Leader told coalition MPs and senators to conduct themselves as a "worthy alternative government" and not show hubris, saying the Australian people had already decided that Labor did not deserve re-election.
"We must be confident and optimistic but never arrogant," Mr Abbott said.
In keeping with his strategy to be seen as a "good bloke" - as revealed in a leaked email to staffers last week - Mr Abbott broke a long drought by appearing on Channel 10's _The Project _ program last night and left the day's dirty work to deputy Julie Bishop and other shadow ministers.
Mr Abbott told the program: "Like my mentor John Howard, I want to under-promise and over-deliver."
Ms Bishop said rumblings of discontent within Labor meant the September 14 election date could not be guaranteed. She described Julia Gillard as the coalition's "greatest asset" and said she could not be relied on to remain PM.
"Kevin Rudd has one more tilt left in him," she told colleagues.
The former PM's backers claim his support within the parliamentary Labor Party has jumped to 45 votes in the 102-strong caucus but no one in Labor believes a challenge is imminent.
Mr Rudd sought to dampen speculation, saying his position had not changed since a year ago when he was defeated by Ms Gillard in a ballot, 71 votes to 31.
"Give us a break, give us a break," he said. "Everyone should take a long, cold shower."
Ms Bishop and shadow attorney-general George Brandis asserted the PM's calling of the election for September 14 triggered caretaker provisions which ban any policy decisions without bipartisan support.
Newly installed Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said long-standing convention dictated caretaker provisions began at the dissolution of the House of Representatives and not before.
"This is an attempt to disrupt the Government of our country, it's an attempt to cause chaos," Mr Dreyfus said.
"It's the same strategy that we've been seeing from the Liberal Party since September 2010 and I'd expect, regrettably, that we'll see more of it going right through to the end of this year."
In question time, Ms Bishop attempted to provoke Mr Dreyfus, who is Jewish, by asking him if he agreed with Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr's assessment of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank as "illegal".
A senior minister told _ The West Australian _the question, which was ruled out of order by Speaker Anna Burke, was a disgraceful attempt at "racial stereotyping".
Ms Gillard would not dispel suggestions that her Government would target people with large superannuation nest eggs in the May Budget.
The Opposition also conceded it would drop the Government's $500 payment to people who earn less than $37,000 to boost their super, provoking claims it wanted to lift tax rates on 3.7 million low-income earners.