Former prime minister Scott Morrison won’t be on Peter Dutton’s list when the new opposition leader finalises his shadow ministry.

Mr Dutton is putting the finishing touches to his coalition frontbench in the wake of taking over the Liberal leadership unopposed.

The former defence minister said Mr Morrison, whose government was defeated at the May 21 election, had not sought a shadow ministry role.

Mr Dutton also hinted his predecessor could leave parliament during the term, triggering a by-election in the NSW seat of Cook.

“The reality is, as we saw with Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and others right since federation, that you would expect to see a by-election at some stage,” Mr Dutton told Sky News.

“But that’s an issue for Scott to work on and I’ll have those conversations with him at the appropriate time.”

Mr Dutton said the party honoured Mr Morrison’s service.

A large chunk of the Liberal seats lost came at the hands of inner-city independents, while the party also lost ground to the Greens in Brisbane.

Mr Dutton said the party did not need to swing too far towards progressive politics to win back those constituencies at the next election.

“The Liberal Party is not the conservative party, it’s not the moderate party, it’s not the conservative moderate party – it’s the Liberal Party,” he told the ABC.

“We’re a party that will stand up for our country on many issues, including national security, including the economy, including sensible climate change policy.”

Analysis shows that while 200,000 Australians shifted towards “teal” candidates, 700,000 abandoned the Liberals in favour of minor right-wing parties, Mr Dutton said.

“Frankly, there was a ‘pox on both your houses’ in this election,” he said. 

“When you look at many of the seats where Labor’s primary vote went backwards, they lost a seat to the Greens here in Queensland.

“So plenty of lessons to learn. We’ve got to have significant policies and we’ll have that in the run-up to the election in 2025.”

Newly elected deputy Liberals leader Sussan Ley says the rebuilding process includes bringing Australians back towards the major parties in three years’ time.

“It’s part of the reconnecting and restoring trust, trust in our leadership and what we have to offer, and that our core values are still there and relevant to the aspirations of Australians,” she told Sky News.

She said the party needed to restore the faith and trust of the disaffected female voters who abandoned the party.

“I want to talk to women … seat by seat on the ground,” she said.

But she also defended the Liberals record on women’s economic security and safety, adding women “didn’t hear what we were doing” through the campaign.

Families, small business, local jobs and manufacturing will be key focuses for the opposition under Mr Dutton, while the party will look to implement “sensible” and “sustainable” climate policy.