Julia Gillard faces a return to Parliament tomorrow under pressure to hold her Government together in the face of a Cabinet reshuffle, court hearings and demands to reveal how to pay for key election year pledges.
Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne likened turmoil surrounding the Government to the last days of Adolf Hitler as Parliament prepared to resume for the year.
The Prime Minister reshuffled her Cabinet at the weekend after Senate leader Chris Evans and Attorney-General Nicola Roxon announced plans to retire.
Ms Gillard used the resignations to tweak the ministry, bringing to the frontbench well-regarded Mike Kelly and moving Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to Senator Evans' tertiary education job.
The Labor Party caucus will today replace Senator Evans as its leader in the Senate.
His long-time deputy, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, is the frontrunner.
New frontbench members, including Fremantle MP Melissa Parke, who becomes a parliamentary secretary, will be sworn in by Governor-General Quentin Bryce this morning. On Wednesday, former Labor MP and now independent Craig Thomson is due to face a Melbourne court.
Former Speaker Peter Slipper also faces charges relating to taxi charges in the ACT this month.
And the Government is looking for big savings to cover its planned education reforms and the introduction of its National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Ms Gillard addressed ALP candidates yesterday, defending some Government policies such as the carbon tax and arguing more needed to be done. She also said politicians had to deal with international economic changes from the global financial crisis.
The latest Newspoll, published today, shows Labor's primary support has plunged six points to 32 per cent, with the coalition strengthening four points to 48 per cent. The poll indicates the coalition would win government comfortably.
A swag of frontbenchers played down suggestions the resignations of Ms Roxon and Senator Evans showed a Government in turmoil.
Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said nine Opposition members had signalled their intent to resign at the September 14 poll.
But Mr Pyne, the shadow education minister, said the Government was in chaos and referred to the film Downfall, which documents Hitler's final days in his bunker.
Incoming attorney-general Mark Dreyfus, a member of the Jewish community, said there was no place to compare an Australian Government with Hitler's Third Reich.