WORKPLACE Relations Minister Bill Shorten is ruling out challenging Julia Gillard for the top job, saying he can't take such questions seriously.Speaking in Darwin to announce a new option for people trying to find jobs in the resources sector, Mr Shorten was asked about whether he would challenge Ms Gillard.
"I am afraid I can't take that seriously," Mr Shorten said.
"The answer is obviously no," he said.
Speculation about Ms Gillard's leadership was reignited this week after a Nielsen poll showed Labor's primary vote at just 30
per cent, down five points since December.
Mr Shorten, seen as a key Gillard backer, also dismissed a question over whether he could see any way the prime minister would be changed before September's federal election.
"This leadership speculation has a lot more hot air than anything else in it," he said.
He said Australians wanted politics to move beyond gossip and personalities.
Mr Shorten also fended off a question about Defence Minister Stephen Smith's recent comments that Kevin Rudd had offered to be a "human shield" if anyone tried to challenge Ms Gillard.
"What I am trying to say politely is you are barking up the wrong tree in terms of the leadership debate," Mr Shorten said.