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Speculation Kevin Rudd may be preparing for a final showdown with Julia Gillard over the Labor leadership continues to grow after the former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull insisted ‘it is likely they will put him back’.

Mr Turnbull, speaking to ABC television, believes Rudd will replace Prime Minister Julia Gillard before the September election and the opposition’s communications manager said: “I think it is likely they will put him back.

“The Gillard government goes from one catastrophe to another.”

Tensions are believed to have risen in the Labor party this week after an email was circulated around the media, criticizing Mr Rudd.

Supporters of Mr Rudd reportedly believe the mail was leaked in retaliation to the former Prime Minister’s recent stinging public attacks over the failed mining tax.

And News Limited reported MPs have been seen openly entering and leaving Mr Rudd’s office this week – with one supporter intimating the issue was coming to a head, saying ‘nothing was going on … but it would be fair to say though that a lot of MPs are becoming increasingly despondent about their prospects after the disasters of the past few weeks’.

Mr Rudd, though, insisted Mr Turnbull should ‘take an icebath’.

Speaking on Sunrise, alongside shadow treasurer Joe Hockey, he said: “I said a week ago everyone should take a long cold shower, what I’d say to Malcom [Turnbull] and you Joe [Hockey] it’s time to take an ice bath.”

Responding, and obviously grinning and laughing, Mr Hockey responded: “I believe you’ve got no leadership ambitions, I believe you.”

To which Mr Rudd replied: “Listening to what you’ve been saying in parliament last week, stay in that ice bath.

“Kochie [Sunrise host David Koch], I’m wearing a blue tie today, it has got ladybirds on it. I’m told there is a comet passing Sydney next week, there is bound to be astrological significance in that.

“Give us a break. It’s not happening.”

Labor MPs yesterday played down the email doing the rounds that contains scathing comments about Mr Rudd, blaming the media for the hype.

Written by a private citizen from Avalon Beach in Sydney and forwarded to media by a supporter of Julia Gillard, the email says Mr Rudd was ‘disloyal’ to the prime minister and the ALP.

The critic brands the former prime minister as ‘childish’ and blames his determination to destabilise the government as playing into the hands of the coalition.

Labor frontbencher Craig Emerson said he hadn't seen the email and knew nothing about it.

But Labor MP Amanda Rishworth denied the email was an embarrassment for the government, blaming the media for pouring fuel on the fire.

"I read 200 emails yesterday, and it could well have been one of them," she told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

"I don't know if that's a problem for the government or a problem for you."

Nationals MP Darren Chester said the prime minister couldn't do her job properly because she was being constantly ‘tortured’ by Mr Rudd.

"Kevin Rudd must be the greatest source of exasperation for Labor MPs they've ever experienced in their lifetime," he said.

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