Australian prime minister Gillard faces vote on her leadership of the Labour Party

Australian prime minister Julia Gillard is about to face a vote on her leadership of the Labour party amid rumours of a petition signed by supporters of her predecessor Kevin Rudd.

Rudd was himself ousted by Gillard in a coup in 2010 and failed in his attempt to regain leadership in February 2012 (defeated by 71 votes to 31).

Gillard wasn't happy about the situation that brought about the vote, but hopes that it will bring an end to the internal tussle damaging the party's stability.

Call me old-fashioned, but the way in which these things are normally done is a challenger approaches the leader of the Labor Party and asks them to call a ballot for the leadership, who shake hands and then a ballot is held.

That hasn't happened but in these circumstances I do think it is in the best interests of the nation and in the best interests of the Labor Party for this matter to be resolved.

Both Gillard and Rudd have agreed that the loser will quit Parliament at the next election. A victory for Rudd, however, could spark an earlier election if he is unable to attract enough support from the independents and Green party representatives currently managed under Gillard.

Gillard has been facing increasing criticism from the Labour party and voters ahead of the September 2013 ballot, with polls showing she would lose by a landslide and that Rudd’s leadership would significantly boost ratings. She has also faced controversy recently after appearing in the Australian Women's Weekly magazine knitting a toy kangaroo for the royal baby. Gillard has traditionally rejected being presented in a feminine manner, and the shoot prompted accusations of being "contrived" and seeking publicity.