Joyce skips Nats meeting after ’embarrassing’ footpath tumble

Barnaby Joyce admits to 'big mistake'

Source: Seven Network

Nationals frontbencher Barnaby Joyce has apparently skipped a party room meeting where his “embarrassing” tumble on a Canberra footpath was set to be a hot topic.

Joyce, the opposition’s spokesman for veterans affairs, has blamed the effects of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs after he was filmed lying on a Canberra footpath talking loudly into his mobile late last Wednesday.

It came as his political colleagues, including party leader David Littleproud, said they would talk to the New England MP about the “personal circumstances” that might have led to the incident.

“I’ve spoken to Barnaby a couple of times over the weekend and this is about making sure he’s OK,” Littleproud told Sky News on Monday.

“He’s acknowledged this isn’t normal behaviour and there’s some personal circumstances, some of which he has articulated publicly, others that I don’t intend to breach his confidence.

“What our job is, is to make sure that we put an environment around him that he’s OK and he gets the support he needs. He’s an important part of our team and we’ll make sure that he gets the support that is required to ensure that he can continue to contribute.”

Video that emerged on Friday showed the former deputy PM lying on the footpath in the Canberra suburb of Braddon after sitting on a planter box and falling off. It reportedly came after Joyce had attended functions at Parliament House earlier in the night.

He told Seven’s Sunrise program on Monday it was “a big mistake”.

“There’s no excuse for it,” he said.

“There’s a reason … they say certain things happen to you if you drink [while on medication] and they were absolutely, 100 per cent, right.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called on the Coalition to answer for Joyce’s actions, which have cast doubt over his future on the opposition frontbench.

The Nationals held a party room meeting in Canberra on Monday. It was widely reported that Joyce did not attend, with Littleproud saying he expected to see him on Monday afternoon.

The party’s Senate leader, Bridget McKenzie, said Joyce would remain in his position and Nationals were focused on moving forward.

“Barnaby is being quite upfront. He’s very embarrassed. He’s provided an explanation and now the focus has to be on his welfare and getting him back to work in tip-top condition as soon as possible,” she told Nine’s Today show.

“Those of us that are in the public eye are subject to greater scrutiny and I am concerned that somebody chose to video it instead of checking if he was OK.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said he would also talk to Joyce this week.

“It’s pretty rough when people are walking past somebody who might be in need of support,” he said earlier.

“I understand a chalk mark has been drawn on the footpath – it can only happen in Canberra where all those Greens and Labor staffers are.”

Elsewhere, cabinet minister Bill Shorten said he thought Joyce needed help.

“I’ve seen the footage very briefly,” he said.

“I think Mr Joyce needs support, he doesn’t need a … Labor politician piling on in a partisan manner. I don’t know what’s happened there, I’m not about to join in on any sort of lynch mob about what happened, or what hasn’t. I think he needs support. That’s what he’s seeking.”

Cabinet colleague Katy Gallagher also urged Joyce to get help, describing the incident as “incredibly sad”.

“Obviously, there’s an issue there. And, you know, these things do nothing for the profession of politicians,” she said.

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

Asked if he was angry that someone filmed the incident rather than helping him, Joyce said “that’s a question for them”.

“To 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,” he said.

-with AAP

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