BARNABY Joyce may refuse to take any blame for the inner-city seats lost by his Coalition colleagues, but political pundits say the Nationals leader has Liberal blood on his hands.
Armed with $20-billion and a slew of regional funding announcements, Nationals held all 16 of their seats and watched on as the Liberals were massacred by independent candidates standing on stronger climate platforms.
In those inner-city seats, the Nationals' reluctant acceptance of the government's climate policy - done only in exchange for the multi-billion-dollar off-the-books war chest - was used to wedge moderate Liberals.
Several successful independents used variations of the line "a vote for moderate Liberals is a vote for Barnaby Joyce", including in the inner-Melbourne seat of Kooyong where Treasurer Josh Frydenberg suffered a 7.6 per cent swing and lost to Monique Ryan.
But when asked, Mr Joyce took no responsibility for the suite of inner-city Liberal seats that fell to 'teal' independents and Greens across the country.
"I'm in the Nationals, and we got swings to us - the Liberals fight Liberal battles, and the Nationals fight Nationals battles," Mr Joyce said.
But Australian National University emeritus professor John Warhurst disagreed. While the Liberals had "shot themselves in the foot in a whole range of ways", Prof Warhurst said it was clear the Nationals had solidified their position at the cost of their Coalition allies.
"Effectively, the Nationals have sold the Liberals down the river," Prof Warhurst said.
"The Nationals were effectively seen as an anti-climate change party by imposing their tough compromise on the Liberals, and keeping Scott Morrison waiting on an answer until 24 hours before he got on a plane to the United Nations climate summit."
Prof Warhurst said while Mr Joyce might blame himself for the role he played in the Coalition loss, there will be plenty of Liberal MPs who will.
"[The Liberals] will blame their own leadership to some extent, but they'll certainly blame the Nationals, a lot of which is deserved," he said.
"There's always tension within the Coalition and there will be more than usual. The surviving Liberals will have no lost love for what they believe the Nationals have done to their defeated colleagues.
"[Liberal senator] Simon Birmingham has already suggested the Coalition agreement will be looked at in opposition."
Former New England independent and political heavyweight Tony Windsor said there "enormous responsibility" on the Nationals for the Coalition's lose
"Joyce represents the opposite of all the things the teal independents were rallying against - more climate action, more integrity," he said.
Although the Nationals may have secured a massive payout to sign up to the net-zero 2050 policy, with the change of government much of the money may never be delivered - something Mr Joyce would have known was a distinct possibility all along, Mr Windsor says.
"He's made promises that are never going to be kept, now he'll go into opposition and say Labor has stopped this project or that project, and paralysed regional Australia," Mr Windsor said.
"All the while ignoring the fact he's had the last 10 years to give the region's major therapy."
Although Mr Joyce is painting the result as "two elections" - one in the regions and one in the cities - Farmers for Climate Action chief executive Fiona Davis said the country and the suburbs had united to vote for stronger climate action.
"Nationals and Liberal candidates who spoke out in favour of climate action fared better than those that didn't," Ms Davis said.
"[Nationals MP] Kevin Hogan extended his margin in Page - he attended the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow and publicly linked the Northern Rivers floods to climate change.
"Andrew Constance might not have won Gilmore, but caused a double digit swing towards the Liberals, a trend that was not seen more broadly."
"Hopefully both sides of politics listen to this message. We need deeper emissions cuts this decade to protect farmers from the extreme weather events caused by climate change."
But the former Deputy Prime Minister seems to have entirely misunderstood the motivations behind the swing against the Liberals.
"Isn't it strange, in attacking the Liberals, they voted out our Indigenous Affairs Minister, three openly gay people, our one Asian member of parliament. Is that what they wanted to achieve? Is that success for them?" Mr Joyce said.
Prof Warhurst said regardless of how much blame the party took, the Nationals will have some serious self reflecting to do while in opposition.
"When you've been tied at the hip for a century, you can't be dismissive of the problems your partner is having, particularly when you are the cause of some of those problems," he said.
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