Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says Liberal Party members must be “loud Australians” on climate change.
Mr Turnbull’s reference has been seen as a swipe at Scott Morrison, who credited “quiet Australians” for his shock federal election win earlier this year.
Mr Turnbull told a private function of moderate factional allies the government’s current climate policies were incoherent, The Daily Telegraph reports.
“It was hard not to read it as a dig at (Prime Minister Scott) Morrison,” one attendee told the tabloid on Monday.
Senior cabinet minister Simon Birmingham was at the gathering but did not hear the speech.
Senator Birmingham said the government was already taking strong action on climate change.
“What we have to do as a government is absolutely to make sure people better understand the policies we are pursuing,” he told ABC radio.
“I am trying, speaking to you right now, to make sure that we are selling in a coherent way those strong policies and it is up to all members of the government to do that.”
Mr Turnbull also warned the party against pursuing authoritarian populism, as seen in the United States with Donald Trump and the United Kingdom with Boris Johnson.
“So the real challenge for the moderates for all of us, for the liberals in the Liberal Party is the one thing we cannot be, now or ever, is quiet Australians,” he said on Thursday.
“We have to be loud Australians and stand up for our values and get the outcomes, deliver the government and the policies Australians deserve.”
Mr Turnbull also defended his record, pointing to same-sex marriage, trade agreements and national security laws passed during his tenure.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and incoming US ambassador Arthur Sinodinos were also in the audience.