JULIA GILLARD has been handed a lifeline with the latest Herald/Nielsen poll showing support for the Prime Minister and her government increasing sharply.
Despite a tumultuous start to the year for the government prompting a renewed bout of leadership speculation, the poll shows Labor's primary support rising 4 percentage points to 33 per cent since December, its highest level in almost a year.
The Coalition's primary support fell 4 points to 45 per cent and its two-party preferred lead has been cut by 8 points to 53-47 but it would still win in a canter if an election were held today.
However, the rise in Labor's support, as well as 5-point increase in Ms Gillard's approval rating and 6-point rise in her standing as prime minister, should give Ms Gillard some reprieve from growing talk of a leadership push by Kevin Rudd.
The poll shows Mr Rudd is preferred as prime minister by 57 per cent of voters compared with 35 per cent for Ms Gillard. In October, Mr Rudd led by 61 per cent to 30 per cent. About one-quarter of those who back Mr Rudd do not believe he should run for the leadership.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.