THE leadership rumblings that emerged at the weekend have robbed the federal government of the headlines it hoped would help to improve its political fortunes.
Yesterday additional payments were to start flowing to 3.2 million pensioners, but, despite the Prime Minister’s best efforts to spruik the positive news, other issues occupied centre stage.
Joel Fitzgibbon, the chief government whip, was apparently sounding out his labor colleagues about bringing Kevin Rudd back from the reserve bench and into the top job.
The story broke at the same time friction emerged within Labor ranks about a deal with Gina Rinehart that will enable her to recruit foreign labor to work at the massive Roy Hill iron ore project in Western Australia.
Many Labor MPs and the union movement, which supports the party, are up in arms.
The head of Fair Work Australia also dismissed claims by embattled MP Craig Thomson that the tribunal had acted with bias during its investigations into his use of union funds when he headed up the Health Services Union.
His evidence at a parliamentary inquiry fueled the Thomson story for another day.
Then came the news a major engineering enterprise was sinking and with it thousands of jobs.
It is news no government wants to hear, especially on the back of major job losses at Qantas and an aluminium smelter in the Hunter Valley last week.
The latter happens to be in Mr Fitzgibbon’s electorate.
Julia Gillard is not phased by the latest round of speculation about her leadership, but she should be. The government has repeatedly shown it has great difficulty, at times, delivering its message, even to those within its ranks.
The Rinehart deal, we were told, was news to the Prime Minister, yet it had been agreed on months earlier but remained unknown to most in the caucus.
There are serious problems within the operation of the Gillard government and a growing number of MPs are now asking who is to blame.
And with that talk comes speculation about the leader’s future.