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Barnaby bucks on climate 'hobby horse'

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Barnaby Joyce (pictured) has warned colleagues against allowing bushfires to be used for advancing "hobby horse" issues (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Nationals backbencher Barnaby Joyce has warned colleagues against allowing bushfires to be used for advancing "hobby horse" issues, in a thinly veiled reference to climate change.

At a joint coalition partyroom meeting on Tuesday, Mr Joyce said his NSW electorate had been dealing with drought and bushfires.

He said some people were trying to push their "hobby horse" issues out of the tragedies.

"We need always to remember those who get hurt from any suggestions and policies when people are pursuing reactionary approaches," he said.

His comments came just hours after failing to win back the deputy prime minister position in a failed leadership challenge against Michael McCormack.

The comments were part of a broader discussion about climate change, with some MPs praising Prime Minister Scott Morrison's increased focus on new technology to cut emissions.

Several people told colleagues to be mindful of what climate policy could mean for jobs.

Others referred to an "ultimate ambition of carbon neutrality" and ensuring Australia is a global leader in renewable energy, hydrogen and working through the recommendations of an inquiry into nuclear power.

Mr Joyce said the leadership vote was part of the Westminster system and the party could now "move on" from the issue.

Former resources minister Matt Canavan, who quit cabinet to back Mr Joyce, said he wouldn't be seeking a return to the ministry.

He said the coalition had become the parties of workers in coal mines, shipyards and factories.

"We represent those people by fighting for their jobs and defending their jobs," Senator Canavan said.

After the Nationals' leadership turmoil, the prime minister demanded colleagues work together to deliver for Australia.

"We come to this joint coalition party room to do things together," Mr Morrison said.

Mr McCormack urged MPs and senators to remember that regional Australia was not broken despite many people hurting after a tough summer.

"It is full of strong people who can bounce back," he said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg indicated the government's focus would be on continuing stable economic management to see Australia through tough times.

The meeting came as hundreds of protesters gathered outside Parliament House to call for greater action on climate change.

© AAP 2020