Ex-Navy seaman Jerry Nockles will be rubber-stamped as the Liberals' candidate in Eden-Monaro after his only opponent pulled out amid anger at the Scott Morrison-led move to cancel local preselections and install "captain's picks" in key seats.
Former Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council deputy mayor Mark Schweikert has withdrawn his nomination, leaving Dr Nockles as the presumptive candidate to challenge Labor's Kirsty McBain in the ultra-marginal seat surrounding the ACT.
Mr Schweikert made the decision after the Liberal Party's federal executive on Sunday launched another intervention into the NSW division in order to select candidates in seats, including Eden-Monaro, Parramatta and Hughes.
A committee made up of the Prime Minister, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Liberals president Christine McDiven will endorse candidates, denying local branch members the right to choose who represents them in the looming federal election.
In an email to members, Mr Schweikert said the decision to cancel local preselections was "heartbreakingly disappointing to say the least", after he quit full-time work last February to prepare for his tilt at Eden-Monaro.
The president of the Bungendore Liberals said he was pulling out of the head-to-head contest with Dr Nockles because he didn't want to be seen endorsing the federal executive's actions.
Mr Schweikert said even if he was the "captains pick" he would have still withdrawn, so strong was his belief in the rights of Liberal members to choose their own candidates.
"I look forward to being an Eden-Monaro candidate again in the future when a plebiscite - a democratic, fair and level playing field - can be achieved," he wrote.
The Canberra Times earlier this month reported the Liberals weren't "writing off" Eden-Monaro despite having yet to finalise their candidate so soon before the election.
The Liberals are having to scramble to install candidates in NSW seats before Mr Morrison sends Australia to the polls, after the process stalled amid a bitter and messy internal war.
The committee will also endorse candidates in Fowler, Grayndler, Greenway, McMahon, Newcastle and Hughes.
Veteran NSW Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells laid blame at the feet of Mr Morrison and his right-hand man, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, as she blasted the pair as unfit for their roles in a speech to Parliament late on Tuesday night.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells, who was relegated to an unwinnable spot on the Liberals' NSW Senate ticket at a over the weekend, said the pair had "deliberately contrived a crisis".
She said Mr Hawke had failed to attend meetings to review candidates, which delayed the prelection process.
"Spurious arguments were mounted to justify the unjustifiable. The constitution was trashed. There is a putrid stench of corruption emanating from the New South Wales Division of the Liberal Party," she said.
Mr Morrison has suggested Senator Fierravanti-Wells made the comments because she was upset about being dropped down the Liberal ticket, effectively ending her political career.
"I know Connie's disappointed that on the weekend 500 members of the Liberal Party went to a preselection and they didn't select Connie," Mr Morrison said.
"I understand that and I understand that there are many disappointments in political life.
Mr Hawke declined to comment when contacted by The Canberra Times.