Prime Minister Julia Gillard will spend a week in key western Sydney seats, after a new poll showed a drop in her personal standing and Labor's stocks flatlining.
The Newspoll gives the coalition 55 per cent of the two-party vote, down one point on the previous poll three weeks ago but enough to win government if an election were to be held today.
Significantly, Ms Gillard's preferred prime minister rating slipped five points to 36 per cent, while Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's rating rose one point to 40 per cent. The proportion of respondents "uncommitted" to either leader rose four points to 24 per cent.
Labor's primary vote of 31 per cent, against the coalition's 47 per cent, is a seven-month low.
As speculation of a Kevin Rudd comeback cools, 62 per cent of voters said a change of the Labor leadership to the former prime minister would make "no difference" to their vote.
And a week after the Greens formally cut ties with Labor, the minor party's primary vote rose two points to 11 per cent, although this is within the Newspoll margin of error.
In a bid to reconnect with voters ahead of the September election, Ms Gillard will spend five days next week in the Labor heartland of western Sydney, home to several marginal ALP seats.
Her visit will start with a speech at the University of Western Sydney on Sunday.
Federal cabinet will also meet in the area and Ms Gillard will answer voters' questions in social media forums and visiting communities.
Mr Abbott, who conducted his own mini-campaign in western Sydney last month, has been campaigning in Queensland this week.
Labor frontbencher Craig Emerson says the prime minister's western Sydney visit is not unusual and the government will be "very competitive" going into the election.
"Any prime minister and any leader of the opposition will go to particular parts of Australia at particular points in time," Dr Emerson told ABC radio on Tuesday.
"It's never been the case that prime ministers or opposition leaders camp themselves in Canberra."
Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce says it's a desperate gimmick.
"Leave Rooty Hill's RSL to the people who want to put 20 bucks through the pokies," he said.
"She doesn't need to be there."
But Independent senator Nick Xenophon says the Newspoll published in The Australian is "a funeral notice" for Labor.
"The voters haven't so much got baseball bats behind their backs waiting for the election ... some of them almost have a nuclear missile," he said.
Labor frontbencher Simon Crean says the leadership issue has never been raised during his visits to regional parts of Australia.
"I don't get the question about what is going on in Canberra - what they want to know is what we are doing for them," he told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Mr Crean said he was sure the government's position would improve by the time the formal election campaign period starts in August.
He said he was working on policy development and
honing the government's message.
"The sooner and the more effective we are in concentrating on that, the better off we will be," Mr Crean said.