National

Libs want more women MPs, Morrison says

By AAP Newswire

Scott Morrison says he wants more women in parliament but when it came to picking Malcolm Turnbull's replacement he ended up with "the best candidate".

Who happens to be a man.

Dave Sharma will run for the Liberals in Wentworth despite a concerted effort from Mr Morrison to get a woman preselected in the ballot on Thursday night.

"I want to see more women in parliament, and I want to see more Liberal women in parliament," Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

"But you've got to pick the best candidate, and Dave was the best candidate last night."

The Liberal party is debating whether to put quotas in place to get more women to run, after criticism of the party's culture and ability to keep women involved.

Victorian Liberal Julia Banks is quitting parliament at the next election in protest at the bullying and intimidation she received during the recent leadership spill.

The Wentworth by-election was seen as a chance for the Liberals to preselect a woman in what should be a safe seat, but Mr Sharma defeated two other men in the top three to claim the win.

Mr Turnbull and former prime minister John Howard both supported Mr Sharma, despite Mr Morrison's push for a woman to take the seat.

"There's always more conspiracies than facts," the prime minister said.

The party is also divided over Mr Turnbull and former foreign minister Julie Bishop's push to get Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton referred to the High Court over questions about his eligibility.

The Australian also reports Mr Morrison's office has contacted key figures in the Turnbull camp after a series of leaks against the government.

Asked if the government was "eating itself" following the coup against Mr Turnbull, Defence Minister Christopher Pyne replied: "No, it isn't."

"I think it is time to move on. I think people are thoroughly sick of it," he told the Nine Network.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the government were like "cats in a bag, all fighting and scratching".

"We now have a parliament where Peter Dutton is sitting there. People know there is a question mark over his eligibility," he said.

"He should refer himself to the High Court. This government should go to an election and give the Australian people a say in who the prime minister is."