Federal cabinet minister Simon Crean has urged his Labor colleagues to turn their energies against the opposition.

"Back off, focus on our agenda, our message and put the heat on the opposition, not ourselves," he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

Labor MPs have returned to Canberra for two weeks of parliament with the government's position improving in the latest Newspoll.

But the coalition still holds an election winning lead - 52-48 per cent - after preferences.

Mr Crean dismissed speculation he might replace Julia Gillard as prime minister and lead Labor in a losing election.

"That must be the talk up in the (press) gallery," he said.