Prime Minister Julia Gillard is starting the 2013 parliamentary year with a new Labor team as latest opinion polls show the government trailing the opposition.
The Labor front bench, which was reshuffled after the retirements of Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Senate leader Chris Evans, was sworn in at Government House on Monday morning.
On Monday afternoon, cabinet minister Stephen Conroy is expected to be endorsed at a caucus meeting to replace Senator Evans as government Senate leader.
Finance Minister Penny Wong is expected to replace Senator Conroy as deputy Senate leader.
Governor-General Quentin Bryce swore in the six new ministers and three parliamentary secretaries, ahead of parliament resuming for the year on Tuesday.
The key promotions are cabinet secretary Mark Dreyfus to attorney-general and Mike Kelly into the defence materiel portfolio.
Brendan O'Connor takes over the immigration ministry, while Chris Bowen replaces Senator Evans as minister for tertiary education and skills.
Labor candidates had gathered in Canberra on Sunday for a briefing with Ms Gillard and strategists ahead of the September 14 federal election.
However, two polls published on Monday, following a week of scandal and intrigue, have deflated expectations of a possible election win.
The Galaxy poll shows the coalition on 54 per cent of the two-party vote.
Labor's primary vote of 35 per cent puts it 13 points behind the Liberal-National position.
The Newspoll has Labor's primary support at 32 per cent and the coalition's vote at 48 per cent.
The two-party vote was 56-44 to the coalition.
Ms Gillard's support as preferred prime minister fell from 45 per cent to 41 per cent, while Mr Abbott's support rose six points to 39 per cent.
It is the closest preferred prime minister result since September 2012, and the highest result for Mr Abbott since July.
The polls were conducted after the arrest last week of former Labor MP Craig Thomson over the alleged misuse of union member funds, disquiet over the two ministerial retirements and the surprise announcement of an election date seven months out.
Senior Liberal Christopher Pyne says voters have woken up to Ms Gillard and Labor.
"The prime minister has had a horror start to the year," Mr Pyne told Sky News.
"It couldn't really get much worse."
Cabinet minister Anthony Albanese said as the election draws closer voters will more closely scrutinise the opposition's "failures".
"I am very confident we can turn it around," Mr Albanese told ABC Radio.