Independent MP Zali Steggall has stared down attacks from the prime minister and moderate Liberals, calling them ineffective and out of touch.
Most of the independents challenging the incumbent Liberal MPs are running on a pro-climate action platform and pushing for a federal integrity commission, saying the Commonwealth hasn't done enough on either issue.
The Warringah MP chastised progressive Liberals such as Dave Sharma, Trent Zimmerman, Jason Falinski and Tim Wilson who defend the government's climate record and position themselves as a voice for change within the party.
"They are entirely ineffective. We have not progressed our climate policy since (former prime minister) Tony Abbott," Ms Steggall told AAP.
Mr Sharma has publicly pushed for the government to adopt a more ambitious mid-term emissions reduction goal, calling for a new target of a 40 to 45 per cent reduction by 2035.
But Ms Steggall said the Liberal MP for Wentworth had numerous opportunities to stand up for his convictions and vote in favour of a more ambitious target, following the path of his more conservative colleagues who have withheld votes over issues such as vaccine mandates.
Mr Wilson hit back at Ms Steggall on Twitter, tagging her in a post lauding the passing of the government's offshore renewable electricity bill, saying "This is what climate action looks like".
Coalition MPs have also tried to frame the independent movement as pro-Labor, saying the movement is only targeting Liberal seats.
Liberal federal director Andrew Hirst - in an email asking party members for donations - questioned why no high-profile independents were taking on Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also took aim at the grassroots "Voices of" movement which targets marginal Liberal seats.
"I've heard about the 'Voices of' movement - it's the 'Voices of Labor' at the end of the day because they are only running against government candidates," Mr Morrison said.
"Their intention is to remove the government and put in Anthony Albanese."
But Ms Steggall said socially progressive voters in traditionally Liberal-held seats had nowhere else to turn, which was why independents were picking up the slack.
"If you are in traditionally Labor-held seats and want more climate action, you can vote for the Greens," she said.
"In a traditionally Liberal-held seat where the Greens' economic policy doesn't appeal, there is no sensible centre option for fiscally conservative voters."
Ms Steggall also labelled critiques of her voting record as misleading as coalition MPs push the line that she has sided with Labor two-thirds of the time.
The tally includes votes against gag orders where the government attempts to shut down debate or prevent a member being heard in parliament - a measure Ms Steggall says she always votes against.
Further, some votes where the government and Labor team up and the cross bench are the only dissenting voices are not officially recorded.
On legislation that proceeds to a formal vote, Ms Steggall said she sides with the government more than half of the time.
Australian Associated Press
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