Speculation surrounding Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard as the nation’s preferred leader has shown a rapid increase.

Opinion polls are backing the deputy after Kevin Rudd’s support continues to slide.

Kendall Gilding reports.

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The media may have been interested in the latest polls but the deputy prime minister wanted to talk tax.

Julia Gillard continued to attack Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton for buying almost $2,000 of BHP shares days after the Resources Super Profits Tax was announced.

The coalition says the policy will damage the mining industry.

But Julia Gillard says Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s response is “not fair dinkum”.

Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister: “He’s trying to tell the Australian people that the Resources Super Profits Tax will wreck the mining industry. Well his own Shadow Minister doesn’t believe it and neither should anyone else.”

While Ms Gillard tried to keep on message, the latest polls show her popularity as preferred leader rise to 40 per cent with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd sliding to 45.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard continues to deny that she would step up as the Prime Minister despite one third of Australian’s believing she’s the best person to lead the Labor Government.

Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister: “There’s more chance of me becoming the full forward for the dogs than there is of any change in the Labor party.”

Senior ministers agree.

Martin Ferguson, Minister for Resources and Energy: “I think we’ve got a pretty good team. Kevin and Julia. I don’t think anyone’s suggesting any change in that direction.”

At least publicly.

Kendall Gilding, QUT News.