A federal Labor frontbencher believes the prime minister's swipe at unelected international institutions is no more than a "massive distraction" from the real challenges facing Australia.
Scott Morrison used a speech this week to argue Australia's international engagement will be driven by national interest rather than "unaccountable" global institutions.
His remarks have been seen as a swipe at the United Nations, and closely resemble comments US President Donald Trump made in New York last week
But Labor spokesman for international development and the Pacific Pat Conroy described it as a "massive distraction" at a time when the Australian economy is stagnant.
"When I walk through the shopping centres in my electorate, I'm not getting pulled up to have people complaining about the global world order or UN treaties," Mr Conroy told ABC television on Saturday.
"They're concerned about an incredibly flat economy."
He said if the prime minister wants to be taken seriously on the world stage he should reverse the cuts to foreign aid and take action on climate change.
However, Nationals senator Perin Davey defended the prime minister's views saying the coalition government will always put Australia's interests first when participating in global forums.
"This is about undertaking our responsibility as a global player while putting Australia's interests first," she told ABC television.
Australian Associated Press