Prime Minister Scott Morrison has accused Labor of peddling racist sentiments over the Indian-owned Adani coal mine as the election campaign descends further into negative territory on its third day.
Mr Morrison accused deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek of racism - though without actually using the word - after she said Australians could not "rely on an Indian mining company to bring jobs to central and North Queensland".
At a press conference in the multicultural Sydney suburb of Ashfield, the Prime Minister linked the issue to former NSW Labor leader Michael Daley's infamous remarks that Asian migrants were taking young people's jobs.
"I think there's form here from the Labor Party, particularly here in NSW," Mr Morrison said.
"At the recent state election, we had Michael Daley saying Asians will take your jobs. Now we've got Tanya Plibersek, who would be deputy prime minister of the country, saying that Indian businesses can't create jobs.
"The Labor Party has form here. It took Bill Shorten six days to denounce what Michael Daley said."
Earlier, Resources Minister Matt Canavan - a vociferous proponent of the Adani mine in Queensland - also accused Ms Plibersek of "blatant dog whistling".
Asked whether he was accusing Labor and Ms Plibersek of racism, Mr Morrison said: "No, I'm just saying exactly what I've just said."
The comments will deepen the negative sentiment that has already defined the start of the five-week campaign after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said his Labor opponent in Dickson, Ali France, had used her disability as an "excuse" not to reside in the electorate.
Ms France, a former journalist, was pushing a stroller containing her son through a car park in 2011 when an out-of-control car slammed into her, pinning her against another vehicle. She had to have her left leg amputated above the knee and uses a wheelchair at home.
Mr Morrison twice had the opportunity to denounce Mr Dutton's comments on Friday but did not do so, and said his Home Affairs Minister has been "taken out of context".
The Prime Minister was campaigning in the marginal Liberal seat of Reid on Saturday, where sitting MP and staunch Malcolm Turnbull ally Craig Laundy is leaving politics.
Mr Morrison met voters enjoying a coffee in Strathfield plaza as he walked the streets with Mr Laundy and the Liberal candidate, Fiona Martin, a child psychologist.
He ran into a spot of trouble when he greeted one woman with "ni hao", which is hello in Mandarin. She responded: "I'm Korean."
Labor's Sam Crosby hopes to wrestle the seat off the government but will need a two-party preferred swing of 4.7 per cent to do so.