‘I Made a Mistake’: Barnaby Joyce Blames Alcohol, Medicine Mix for Canberra Incident

The Nationals MP and former deputy prime minister was filmed lying on ground in Parliament on Wednesday night.
‘I Made a Mistake’: Barnaby Joyce Blames Alcohol, Medicine Mix for Canberra Incident
Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce reacts during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on June 22, 2021. (Sam Mooy/Getty Images)
Monica O’Shea

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce has conceded he made a “big mistake” after being filmed lying on the ground in a suit yelling expletives in Canberra last week.

The former deputy prime minister was shown in a Daily Mail video lying on the side of the road saying “dead [expletive] [expletive]” while talking on the phone.

Mr. Joyce, who is currently the shadow minister for veterans affairs, had fallen off a pot plant at night and was seen lying on the footpath in Lonsdale Street, Canberra at 11:26 p.m. on Feb. 7.

Explaining the incident on Sunrise, Mr. Joyce admitted his error and blamed a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol for the incident.

“Look, obviously, I made a big mistake—there’s no excuse for it,” Mr. Joyce said.

“There is a reason, and it was a very eventful walk home wasn’t it? I’m on a prescription drug, and they say certain things may happen to you if you drink, and they were absolutely 100 percent right.

“For me, the good Samaritan was the Indian taxi driver who pulled over as I was walking home and said, ‘Do you need a lift, mate?’ Which I obviously did.”

Labor Ministers Suggest Joyce Needs Help

Labor ministers were relatively measured when discussing Mr. Joyce on Feb. 12, encouraging him to seek help following the incident.

Government services minister Bill Shorten said Mr. Joyce “needs support” rather than a Labor politician piling in on the matter.

“I’ve just seen the footage very briefly. I think Mr. Joyce needs support. He certainly doesn’t need a Labor politician piling in in a partisan manner,” Mr. Shorten said.

“I don’t know what’s happened there. I’m not about to join in on any sort of lynch mob. About what’s happened and what hasn’t. I think he needs support. That’s what he’s seeking.”

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher said, “Personally I hope he gets the help he needs” because it’s a “very unusual position for someone of that age to be in.”

“Look, I think it’s just incredibly sad. I hope he gets the help that he needs. Obviously, there’s an issue there. And you know, these things do nothing for the profession of politicians,” Ms. Gallagher said.

“I think it confirms you know, in people’s minds, the public’s minds, negative association with politics, and I think that’s a real shame.”

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said he does not like to see “anyone in that state. I find it a little disturbing.”

Nationals leader David Littleproud, speaking to reporters in Canberra on Feb. 12, refused to delve into the personal circumstances of the incident and revealed he will have a conversation with Mr. Joyce about his role in parliament.

“I don’t think I’ll make an assessment on anyone about whether they have a drinking problem, particularly ones I don’t socialise with all the time,” Mr. Littleproud said.

“We’re not going to sit there and publicly talk about individuals or prosecute individuals. This is a personal situation that Barnaby’s deeply embarrassed about and I, as leader, want to create the environment where I lead.

Bridget McKenzie, who is the Senate Nationals Leader, also told Sky News the aim was getting Mr. Joyce in “tip-top condition as soon as possible.”

‘They Could Not Even Check He Was OK’: Wife

Mr. Joyce’s wife Vikki Campion has questioned why the witness who took the photograph did not check if he was alright following the incident.
“I’ve been with Barnaby when we have found a man in the same state on the street, and rather than take a video and sell it to the media, he picked the guy up and took him home. We later found out there had been problems with his medication and if [Mr. Joyce] hadn’t helped him back, he could have been in a very bad situation,” Ms. Campion said in comments reported by News Corporation.

“On another occasion, he picked up a hospital patient who was walking around disoriented and took him back to the hospital. It’s disgusting that when he was in need they could not even check he was OK.”

Opposition leader Peter Dutton also echoed these concerns that rather than filming, the onlooker could have helped Mr. Joyce.

The decision on whether Mr. Joyce will remain on the front bench following the incident will be up to the Nationals, according to Mr. Dutton.

“It’s pretty rough when people walk past somebody who may be in need of support,” Mr. Dutton said.

“It’s a matter for the Nationals Party in relation to their own party room and it’s David’s decision about the people he wants to have on the frontbench.

“More broadly, the question about my frontbench, I think we’re in the strongest position any opposition has been in in decades. I’m proud of the frontbench we’ve got.”

Monica O’Shea is a reporter based in Australia. She previously worked as a reporter for Motley Fool Australia, Daily Mail Australia, and Fairfax Regional Media.