The man considered a favorite to replace Malcolm Turnbull as the liberal candidate at Wentworth has withdrawn from the race, urging the party to elect a woman instead.
Andrew Bragg cited recent complaints from women within the Liberal Party about a culture of intimidation, with a particular reference to Julia Banks, who will not contest the upcoming elections.
"I'm moving away from the Wentworth pre-selection," Mr. Bragg, a former member of the Australian Business Council, wrote on his Facebook page.
"I think the Liberal Party should pre-select a woman and my withdrawal can pave the way."
He said that Julia Banks' accusations that women were intimidated by colleagues of the Liberal party had "shocked" him.
"Julia is exactly the kind of professional woman that the Liberal Party should be able to attract and keep in Parliament, her loss is a big step in the wrong direction."
It is not clear who could have Mr. Bragg in mind.
Sydney Councilor Christine Forster, Tony Abbott's sister, is the most prominent woman who has indicated her interest in the role so far.
But Ms. Forster has retired from the race, saying that her candidacy was being interpreted as a substitute for the factional division within the Coalition.
Former political employee Katherine O & # 39; Regan, former president of the NSW Liberal Women Council Mary-Lou Jarvis and rheumatologist Maxine Szramka are the three remaining women in the preselection race.
Also running are Dave Sharma, Richard Shields, Peter King, Carrington Brigham and Michael Feneley. Dave Sharma is the former Australian ambassador to Israel and is considered a strong contender.
The seat of Sydney will go to the polls in the next months after the resignation of Malcolm Turnbull.
Liberals are expected to occupy the safe blue seat, but polls suggest they will undergo a substantial change against them, which could open the door to a popular independent backed by labor preferences.