Scott Morrison has defended the coalition's in-principle preference deal with Clive Palmer's United Australia Party.
The prime minister told reporters in Dubbo that "Labor and the Greens present a far bigger threat to the Australian economy, to people's jobs than the UAP does".
"That's just a simple fact," he said on Saturday.
Nationals leader Michael McCormack said the UAP was "far closer" to the government's supporters than Labor or the Greens.
But the deputy prime minister said while the UAP would be preferenced above Labor and the Greens, their actual spot would be decided on a seat-by-seat basis.
Speaking in Hobart, Bill Shorten restated Labor wouldn't be giving the UAP any preferences.
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese condemned the deal, calling Mr Palmer a "tosser" and saying he should be "anathema to everyone".
"Scott Morrison had a choice between standing up for ripped off workers or sucking up to a tosser who ripped them off and he chose the tosser. He chose Clive Palmer," Mr Albanese said.
Mr Shorten also criticised the LNP's preference deals with One Nation in Queensland, saying that a Morrison-Hanson-Palmer government would be "the most extreme right wing government in Australia's history".
At a press conference in Sydney Tanya Plibersek laughed at Mr Albanese's "tosser" comments and said she thought "a lot of Australians would express it in the same way".
On the question of Labor's negotiations with Mr Palmer on preferences Ms Plibersek said she believed "there were a couple of brief phone calls".
Mr Palmer told media in the north Queensland town of Clermont he got a follow up phone call about preferences from Labor senator Anthony Chisholm on Tuesday but then heard Mr Shorten criticising him on TV.
"I thought well I'm not going to deal with that guy," he said.
Former coalition MP Ewen Jones, who once held the ultra-marginal Queensland seat of Herbert, disagreed with Mr Morrison's preference deal, saying he would have put the UAP below One Nation on his how-to-vote card.
"It's probably a very lucky thing I'm not the candidate, because there's no way in the world that it would be done if I were the candidate," he told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Mr Palmer is set to formally announce UAP preferences on Monday.
Australian Associated Press