Deputy Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg says former prime minister Tony Abbott is focused on winning his seat at the federal election instead of the prospect of returning to the party's leadership.
"Tony Abbott has got his hands full in his own seat and that is where his focus is and that is where it should be," Mr Frydenberg told ABC TV on Tuesday.
The former prime minister is fending off independent candidate Zali Steggall in his seat of Warringah on Sydney's northern beaches.
Speaking at an event in the electorate on Monday night, Mr Abbott said he would be willing to return to the top job but only if he was invited to do so and if nobody was running against him.
"It will be up to the partyroom. If they want me they will need to invite me. But I am not expecting that," he said in answer to a question, The Guardian reported.
Mr Abbott has made similar comments about a possible return to the leadership since being toppled by Malcolm Turnbull in 2015.
However, a change of leader from incumbent Scott Morrison could be on the cards for the Liberals if the coalition loses the May 18 election, as widely tipped by opinion polls and betting markets.
Mr Frydenberg says the prime minister is providing strong leadership.
Mr Morrison told reporters in regional Victoria: "I think Tony was responding to a question that was very hypothetical."
Australian Associated Press