(Image: Tom Red/Private Media)

While Australia is already an international laggard on climate action, the return of climate denialist and alleged sexual harasser Barnaby Joyce to the deputy prime ministership threatens to elevate us to pariah status. And the extent to which the government can be trusted in relation to any commitments it makes internationally is now under serious question.

Joyce and the claque of far-right, mainly Queensland Nationals he leads aren't merely opponents of a 2050 net zero target -- which, for all the press gallery obsession with it, is too little too late to prevent highly damaging climate change -- but will push for more coal-fired power, aiming to increase Australia's emissions, rather than abate them.

And the mechanism by which they will pursue that goal is a completely secret agreement between two men that will give a handful of MPs a veto over key policies. Australians, let alone the rest of the world, won't be allowed to see the agreement. Without that transparency, anything the government says in relation to climate cannot be relied upon.