Tony Abbott believes Malcolm Turnbull should explain why his 30th Newspoll loss is not the same as the test he used to depose the former prime minster.
As Mr Turnbull racked up the same milestone on Monday, the now-backbencher again urged the government to champion low power prices by keeping coal, and higher wages by cutting immigration.
"That's what I think we need to focus on today, being the best possible government with the strongest possible policies," Mr Abbott told reporters on his annual Pollie Pedal in Victoria.
Asked whether he feels vindicated by Mr Turnbull's result, Mr Abbott said, "It's not about me, it's got to be about our country".
But he later argued it was Mr Turnbull who set the test of consecutive Newspoll losses.
He, on the other hand, "thought the important thing was winning elections".
"It's really, I suppose, something for Malcolm to explain why it applied to me, but shouldn't apply now," he told 2GB radio.
Mr Abbott acknowledged being in government was hard.
"Malcolm Turnbull and I know this better than anyone," he said.
The Newspoll showed the government is behind Labor on a two-party preferred basis at 48 per cent to 52 per cent, under Mr Turnbull's leadership.
Mr Abbott said the best way to be a good government was to have clear policies, a united team and to be distinct from your opponents.
"That's what I tried to be and to do in government and I'm sure that's what the prime minister is trying to be and to do now."
He said backbenchers have a duty to speak their minds as he called for greater "honesty" in politics.
"One of the differences between me and some of my colleagues is that if I've got something to say, I don't ring up a journalist and whisper poison into their ears I say it up front, openly, and put my name on it," he said.
"I think that is something that we need to see more of in our politics. We need to see honesty, we need to see integrity and we need to see people say what they mean and do what they say."
Mr Abbott, who has been pushing for new coal-fired power stations, is touring the Latrobe Valley on Monday as part of his annual charity bike ride.