High profile conservative figures have slammed the Liberal Party for abandoning conservative values.

They warned the Coalition will remain in opposition while ever MPs are too afraid to fight the culture wars.

Former federal senator Amanda Stoker used her speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Sydney at the weekend to blast former Liberal colleagues for being cowards.

She said too many in the party were afraid to publicly criticise “social movements”.

“Too many Liberals were willing to just go along with cultural movements that they didn’t truly believe in because they weren’t willing to take on the zeitgeist or (risk) being called a nasty name to speak up,” she said.

“When you don’t show up and make the case, you lose by default.”

Ms Stoker, who was unsuccessful in her 2022 re-election bid, said the Coalition could not hope to win government if they focused only on “jobs, jobs, jobs”.

“Fresh into opposition, the Liberal Party is, or at least should be, in a period of building. The time spent doing that now, reconnecting to principle as the foundation for good policy and decision-making, will be determinative of our capacity to be relevant to the Australians.”

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was another to criticise the Coalition, taking aim at lockdown measures used during Covid.

“We still have to be the freedom party,” he said.

Abbott was also scathing of the Morrison government’s embrace of net zero emissions.

“We always take seats off Labor when we make climate an economic issue that will cost jobs and raise prices; rather than a moral issue requiring swift change to a survivalist lifestyle lest the planet self-immolate by 2030,” he told the conference.

Former senator Nick Minchin was jeered when he told the conference’s 800 delegates that the party did not need “a whole lot of changing”.

The two-day CPAC event – featuring speakers including UK politician Nigel Farage, Coalition senators Matt Canavan and Alex Antic, and Indigenous leader Warren Mundine – was picketed on Saturday by about 100 protesters.

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