Former veterans affairs minister Darren Chester has urged the Nationals to better recognise the diversity of views in regional areas, following his decision to contest the party leadership.
Mr Chester will challenge leader Barnaby Joyce for the role when the party room meets in Canberra on Monday.
While leadership of the Nationals is automatically spilled following the election, Mr Chester pitched a fresh start for how the party would deal with regional Australia.
"Australians want a calmer, moderate and more respectful political debate which is focused on policies, not personalities," he said in a statement on Facebook.
"For the Nationals to connect better with younger and female voters in the future, we need to recognise the diversity of views in our regional areas and I believe I can do that."
Former deputy prime minister Michael McCormack and David Littleproud are considered possible contenders for the leadership.
Anne Webster is set to contest the deputy leadership role.
Following the election, Mr Joyce said the Nationals had been successful, retaining every seat the party contested and also picking up an extra Senate seat.
Mr Chester said the views of some Nationals members had been a drag on the coalition vote in other parts of the country, particularly inner-city areas.
Many traditionally safe Liberal seats were lost to so-called teal independents at Saturday's poll, with many running on a platform of increased action on climate change.
The Nationals received swings against them in the seats of Flynn and Capricornia where the coal industry was promoted, but swings to them in Mr Chester's seat of Gippsland, Dr Webster's seat of Mallee and Kevin Hogan's seat of Page where climate action was talked up.
However, Mr Chester said he would not criticise the leadership of Mr Joyce, indicating that was rejected by the Australian public at the election.
"There's no question in my my mind that some of the comments by a few colleagues ... which were quite extreme in their views, had an impact on the Liberal Party candidates in those more moderate parts of urban areas," he told ABC TV.
"Let's be honest with each other in the National Party room and figure out how to develop our policy, how we conduct ourselves in the public debate and not be sabotaging the campaigns of Liberals in the city."
Mr Chester admitted history was against him in running for the leadership, with no Victorian having led the party for 50 years.
He said it was healthy for the party if several candidates put their hands up to run for the leadership.
"It's time for a change. It will be a question of whether the colleagues see me as part of that or whether they go for someone else," he said.
"I'm trying to find a way our party can unite itself. We really are a difficult party to lead for anyone, we are a loose coalition of independent-minded people."
The Liberals will also hold a leadership ballot on Monday, with former defence minister Peter Dutton expected to be the only candidate to replace Scott Morrison.
Mr Chester said he had good relations with Mr Dutton.
Australian Associated Press
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