GetUp has been forced to amend its instructions to volunteers after the activist group's boss was caught in an embarrassing interview in which he was unable to justify claims Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was "part of the coup" against Malcolm Turnbull.
National director Paul Oosting had defended a GetUp instruction manual that suggested volunteers tell voters Mr Frydenberg was "part of the coup that removed Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister", even if he might be "a nice person".
GetUp - which has amassed a donations war chest of $12.5 million in the past year - has now scrapped references to the coup from the manual, instead saying Mr Frydenberg was "part of the chaos in Canberra".
There is no suggestion Mr Frydenberg played an active role in the push to oust Mr Turnbull. He did not support Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton's tilt for the top job - he voted for Mr Turnbull in the first leadership spill and remained in cabinet while Mr Dutton's backers quit.
In an awkward encounter with Faine on Wednesday, Mr Oosting said there was "undoubtedly a coup that [Mr Frydenberg] was part of within the Liberal Party".
Faine argued that by that logic, every Liberal MP would have been part of the push against Mr Turnbull, which would be unfair given that almost 50 per cent voted against it.
"I think it is fair actually - I think Australians are fed up with those leadership coups," Mr Oosting said.
He was also twice corrected by ABC host Jon Faine as to Mr Frydenberg's current role. Mr Oosting said he did not believe that Mr Frydenberg became "the deputy prime minister by accident", at which point Faine pointed out that he is not the deputy prime minister.
"Apologies, he's the finance minister," Mr Oosting replied. "Treasurer," Faine corrected. "I'll get there eventually," Mr Oosting said.
The GetUp boss later argued that Faine could not "rule out" Mr Frydenberg's involvement in the leadership battle. Faine accused Mr Oosting of misleading voters in Mr Frydenberg's seat of Kooyong.
On Wednesday afternoon, GetUp confirmed it had removed references to the coup from its instructions.
"To avoid any confusion in our calling conversation guide, we've updated a line about last year's leadership change - this has been done to ensure climate change is always positioned front and centre as the number one issue and nothing else is used as a distraction," a GetUp spokesman said.
The activist group is running hard against right-wing candidates at this federal election with a $12.5 million war chest in donations in the past year - an increase of 27 per cent. It has disclosed more than $40 million in political expenditure over the past decade.
This election, GetUp is targeting candidates such as former prime minister Tony Abbott in his seat of Warringah, Health Minister Greg Hunt in his seat of Flinders and Mr Dutton in his seat of Dickson.
In Victoria, the group is focusing its messaging on the removal of Mr Turnbull - who is regarded as relatively popular in that state - and the actions of plotters such as Mr Dutton, who is regarded as toxic.
The Coalition argues GetUp is a front for Labor and the Greens, however the Australian Electoral Commission recently ruled against that, finding that it did not endorse candidates and it should not be classed as the associated entity of any political party.
- SMH/The Age