NSW Treasurer Matt Kean has taken aim at Liberal Party branch members, claiming they're "not reflecting the community" in preselection choices for the state election.
The attack is a response to the state's most senior Liberal minister, Natalie Ward, losing preselection in the safe of Davidson on Sydney's lower north shore.
The Roads Minister's attempt to make the switch from the upper to lower house of parliament was thwarted when branch members chose former political staffer Matt Cross.
He won 95 votes to 85.
"I thought that a smart, talented senior female minister would trump a former junior staffer every day of the week," Mr Kean said.
"The branch members are not reflecting the community."
As a moderate faction powerbroker, Mr Kean supported Ms Ward's bid and, ahead of the vote, issued a public directive to branch members to "get on board with the program" and preselect more women.
Mr Kean said he was "devastated" by the result and believed the party’' internal systems needed to be overhauled.
"The leadership now needs to change some of our processes," he said.
"When you've got someone as talented, as able and as big a contributor as Natalie Ward who is not able to win preselection over a former Liberal staffer something is wrong with our systems and processes."
Mr Kean has also used the opportunity to advocate for introducing female quotas, which has long been resisted by the party.
"Clearly the target process is not working so we need another mechanism to ensure our party reflects the values that our communities are after," he said.
There's concern within the party that Davidson, as well as other Liberal seats in Sydney's north, could be vulnerable to independents.
In the federal election, female "teal" candidates beat Liberal incumbents in Mackellar and North Sydney, while independent Zali Steggall retained Warringah.
They campaigned strongly on women's issues and the environment.
As part of Matt Cross's pitch to preselectors, he advocated for nuclear power as an alternate energy source.
Mr Kean, who is also the Energy Minister, took issue with that as well.
"People can chase all kind of fantasies, I mean who knows in a decades time there might be flying cars," he said.