Few political spectacles have been more unedifying than Barnaby Joyce's attempt to portray himself as an honest broker in negotiating national climate policy on Monday.
Mr Joyce, who said he had seen a draft copy of the Coalition's climate policy but couldn't share it with anyone, said he would meet with his party room and endeavour to get his colleagues on board.
"My job is to try and corral it," he said. "At the end of the day will they all be on the same page? Not a chance."
Really? After years of trenchant opposition to any suggestion of net zero by 2050 he is now a climate change convert fighting a lonely battle to get his weathered warriors onside?
Please. This is the man who rolled his replacement as Nationals leader, Michael McCormack, because the then deputy prime minister was doing what Mr Joyce is now claiming to attempt to do.
Only the gullible would believe the "retail politician" who blew any chance of an early agreement within the Coalition on net zero out of the water gives a tinker's cuss about a workable emissions reduction policy.
This, as it has been with the Nationals all along, is about individual self-interest. Mr Joyce and his small rump know that as a result of the vagaries of the Australian democratic process they have the Prime Minister, and the country, over a barrel.
And, as has so often been the case with the agrarian socialists, they are milking the moment for all that it is worth.
Those familiar with the history of the sports rorts affair, the forced relocation of the APVMA to Mr Joyce's electorate, and the push to decentralise other federal departments and agencies to Nationals electorates may suspect that when the Deputy PM talks about ensuring the regions "aren't disadvantaged" he means pork barrelling on a grand scale.
If and when the Nationals do sign off an agreement the public almost certainly won't be told what actually got the deal across the line.
That will only become apparent in the lead-up to the next election when the commitments to Nationals seats under threat from independents, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and others are revealed.
What's the bet that in the event the Coalition gets up in 2022 there won't be a few more Nationals at the Cabinet table?
The danger Mr Joyce and his enthusiastic backers have yet to appreciate is that while they may hold the whip hand right now they also risk a significant electoral backlash.
The National Farmers Federation already backs net zero by 2050, albeit with some caveats. In a remarkable volte-face the Business Council of Australia has also come on board.
A recent survey found a majority of voters in every federal electorate - including those held by the Nationals - want more action on climate change and the Prime Minister's position could not be clearer.
"Addressing climate change is a challenge that we must do together ... The world is moving into a new energy economy. We all know that. It is now a question of how, not if," he said on Monday.
The Nationals' brinksmanship on what is an existential global crisis calls into question the capacity of their leadership and many of their MPs to make a meaningful contribution to national government.
By pursuing naked self-interest, by refusing to show leadership, and by not bringing the uncertain and the unconvinced along with them into a net-zero future the Nationals have done themselves, their electorates, the nation and the planet a grave disservice.
History, and the voters, should judge them harshly for this conduct.
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