Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has argued the decision to scrap next week's sitting of the House of Representatives should not be a surprise for the Labor Party, because he raised the idea with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten weeks ago.
The accusation has not hampered the attacks against the Prime Minister, with Mr Shorten describing the decision as "outrageous" and "weak".
Both Houses were due to begin their final sitting fortnight next Monday, but the Coalition has announced it will cancel next week's sitting of the Lower House.
The argument was the Senate needs to be allowed to finish debating the bill to legalise same-sex marriage before the matter is handed over to the House of Representatives.
Mr Shorten has written a letter the Prime Minister — co-signed by four Lower House independents — calling on him not to cancel the sitting week.
Mr Turnbull has attempted to frame the decision as merely delaying the sitting fortnight, claiming it is "common sense".
He has added that rather than cancelling a week, members could be kept in Canberra until same-sex marriage and the ongoing citizenship saga are resolved.
"I raised a number of practical measures to deal with the last few weeks of sitting with Bill Shorten some time ago," Mr Turnbull said in Sydney.
"Look, Bill's more interested in playing games than for the Parliament to do its work."
Mr Shorten does not buy the "common sense" claim.
"I think it's a joke that the Prime Minister, who's frightened of his own partyroom, frightened of the Parliament, frightened of the electorate, is just cancelling Parliament for a week," Mr Shorten told the Seven Network.
"Marriage equality is very important, and Labor's all up for voting for that in a speedy fashion, but there's plenty of other business which the Parliament needs to do.
"Turnbull's just cancelling Parliament because he's having a hard day at the office."
The Opposition claimed the Coalition was trying to hide from attempts to test its numbers on the floor of the House, including efforts to set up a banking royal commission by Labor and any disgruntled members of the Coalition.
Mr Turnbull also copped criticism today over his announcement a tax cut may be on the cards for middle-income earners, with the Opposition characterising it as a "thought bubble" designed to distract voters and stifle criticism of the sitting week decision.
"Malcolm Turnbull had a thought bubble last night in a desperate look-over-here attempt — 'here's a shiny thing, please don't notice that my government is falling apart before your eyes'," shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said.
Same-sex marriage debate to be 'long and arduous'
Social Services Minister Christian Porter denied the Government was running away from confrontation.
"In setting the schedule back, and committing to sit for as long as it takes to deal with those two issues, we may well be sitting for longer than the two weeks that were scheduled, so how can that be called cowardly?" Mr Porter told ABC News Breakfast.
"I've seen how the debate on same-sex marriage is progressing in the Senate, and I would describe it as rather grinding.
"What we will experience in the House of Representatives, I can assure you, is going to be a long arduous debate, and what the Prime Minister has said is that we will sit until the debate has concluded."
Debate will continue on WA Liberal senator Dean Smith's bill to legalise same-sex marriage when the Upper House returns next week.
Conservative members want the bill to be amended to include stronger religious protections.
Attorney-General George Brandis said there would be no harm in enshrining a clause about religious freedoms into the bill.
"It would do no harm to have a declaratory statement in the bill, based on the language of article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to the effect that nothing in the bill can limit or take away from a person's right to manifest their religious faiths by worship, practice, observance or teaching," Senator Brandis told the ABC's Q&A.
"If we introduce those words, they'll make no difference whatsoever to the right of same-sex people to marry, but might provide a level of reassurance for those who were not convinced to vote yes."