Australia's prime minister and the man he replaced have clashed in an indication that splits in the ruling party are still wide as the country heads into a possible early election in July.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Monday that he will call an early election on July 2 unless the Senate agrees to pass contentious legislation.

The opposition argues that Turnbull had effectively kicked off a 15-week election campaign, with key senators talking down the prospects of legislation to create a construction industry watchdog getting majority support.

Tony Abbott, the unpopular prime minister who was replaced by Turnbull in September after two years in power, claimed credit for the center-right government's main achievements.

But Turnbull told Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Tuesday said that his administration was different from Abbott's.