Labor has seized on disarray within the Liberal Party after government members questioned the prime minister's account of why federal intervention was needed in NSW.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Scott Morrison made statements that were "demonstrably not true" after he defended going over the top of the party's NSW executive to install his own candidates in the state.
"That is why so many people in the prime minister's own inner circle - people who know him well - have all come to a common view that he cannot be trusted," Mr Albanese said.
Mr Morrison said his actions were to protect female MPs whose preselections were at risk, and denied allegations of bullying and autocratic behaviour, branding it as coming from disgruntled parliamentarians.
While campaigning in a key Perth seat, Mr Albanese said the government was focused on internal politics and not Australians.
"Their entire focus is on themselves," he said.
"They are not dealing with the challenges of how our economy goes forward, they are not dealing with issues like the aged care crisis."
Environment Minister Sussan Ley - one of the three sitting MPs Mr Morrison's intervention saved - defended the prime minister, saying he was willing to listen and focused on getting the right outcomes for Australians.
"The recent political pile on the prime minister could not be further from the reality of the leader I have worked closely with at the cabinet table, at party discussions or socially," she said in a statement.
Mr Morrison also spared ally Immigration Minister Alex Hawke and backbencher Trent Zimmerman.
"I'm asked all the time, 'Why won't the prime minister do more about getting good women in parliament and stand up for the women in parliament?'. So I stood up for the women in my team," Mr Morrison told the ABC's 7.30 program.
His picks were upheld on Tuesday after the NSW Court of Appeal dismissed a legal challenge from a party member, clearing the way for an election to be called this week.
Mr Morrison said a possible High Court challenge would not impact his decision on when to call the election, but ruled out firing the starting gun on Thursday amid speculation of a planned trip to the governor-general.
Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who has been relegated to an unwinnable spot on the party's NSW Senate line-up, rejected the prime minister's claim he was protecting women.
In a statement to 7.30, she said: "Morrison is simply using the 'gender card' to conflate captain's picks to trash democratic processes in NSW."
Senator Fierravanti-Wells last week spoke under parliamentary privilege to condemn Mr Morrison as "not fit to be prime minister", branding him "ruthless".
In the marginal seat of Parramatta in western Sydney, Mr Morrison sought to spruik Australia's economic recovery.
But the prime minister was instead forced to defend accusations he politicised disaster funding for flood affected victims and has not provided enough support.
"What I know is we've already turned up and will keep turning up with the things were responsible for, and state governments will get on with the things they are responsible for," Mr Morrison hit back.
Mr Morrison said the federal government had committed $2.1 billion on the NSW flood response - $1 billion of which is already out the door - and was sharing the cost of a series of programs.
NSW state Liberal MP Catherine Cusack publicly stated she would not vote for him due to Mr Morrison's politicisation of the flood crisis.
The revelation led to Labor frontbencher Jason Clare saying: "If you have members of the Liberal Party saying they're not going to vote for Scott Morrison, then why should the Australian people?".
Australian Associated Press
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