Scott Morrison has upped the political ante against Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews for signing a secret infrastructure deal with the Chinese government.
Mr Morrison says foreign policy is the Commonwealth's domain and the premier should have checked with him first.
"I mean, I'd like to give him a few tips on how he should be running his police force down there, because if you're living in Victoria, he hasn't been doing a pretty crash hot job on that," he told Sydney radio station 2GB.
The prime minister said Australia had for years maintained a consistent policy on China's Belt and Road Initiative.
It has long resisted striking a deal on the global infrastructure project. Instead, Australia approaches projects on a case-by-case basis.
"When these things happen then that creates mixed messages, and it would've been helpful if they (Victoria) had been a bit more engaging on that," Mr Morrison said.
The Victorian premier, who faces a state election later this month, has refused to release details of the confidential deal.
"The long-standing protocol is that these matters are not made public and I think there might be some agreements that the federal government has signed up to that's similarly treated," Mr Andrews told reporters.
Victorian Liberal Leader Matthew Guy has promised to "absolutely" publish the document.
"Daniel Andrews must tell Victoria what on earth he has signed with a foreign government, we deserve to know," the state opposition leader said.
"We have a right to know as Victorians what the government has signed up to - to a foreign government - just before an election."
Federal opposition frontbencher Chris Bowen said given how dysfunctional the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government's approach to Beijing has been, it was no wonder the states were going it alone.
"I think it's unsurprising state governments of any persuasion are trying to go their own way and forge those bilateral relations at a state level," he told reporters in Sydney.
Mr Bowen also pointed out Foreign Minister Marise Payne was not critical about the deal.
"I'm not sure whether the prime minister and foreign minister are talking to each other," he said.