Labor MPs are playing down an email doing the rounds that contains scathing comments about Kevin Rudd, blaming the media for the hype.
Written by a private citizen from Avalon Beach in Sydney and forwarded to media by a supporter of Julia Gillard, the email says Rudd was "disloyal" to the prime minister and the ALP.
The critic brands the former prime minister as "childish" and blames his determination to destabilise the government as playing into the hands of the coalition.
Labor frontbencher Craig Emerson said he hadn't seen the email and knew nothing about it.
But Labor MP Amanda Rishworth denied the email was an embarrassment for the government, blaming the media for pouring fuel on the fire.
"I read 200 emails yesterday, and it could well have been one of them," she told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
"I don't know if that's a problem for the government or a problem for you."
Nationals MP Darren Chester said the prime minister couldn't do her job properly because she was being constantly "tortured" by Rudd.
"Kevin Rudd must be the greatest source of exasperation for Labor MPs they've ever experienced in their lifetime," he said.
"He's like a cat that's caught a mouse but won't quite kill it off."