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Barnaby quits grog for Lent as second Nats MP in strife

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has vowed to quit drinking during Lent.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has vowed to quit drinking during Lent. Photo: AAP

Barnaby Joyce will give up alcohol for Lent after being embroiled in a public drunkenness scandal, as another Nationals MP attracts attention for drinking on the job.

Joyce has faced intense scrutiny after being filmed lying on the pavement and slurring profanities into his phone.

The former deputy prime minister blamed mixing alcohol with prescription medication but denied having a drinking problem and refused invitations to take personal leave.

Nationals colleague Perin Davey has also faced criticism after slurring her words during a parliamentary hearing.

Davey said she had a couple of glasses of red wine before the hearing but didn’t think she was drunk.

The two incidents have sparked debate about the workplace culture inside parliament house, as well as calls for random breath tests.

Joyce was asked about the twin scandals during a regular appearance on morning television, revealing he’d taken a vow of abstinence in the six weeks before Easter.

“I’ve given up two things for Lent,” he told Seven’s Sunrise on Monday.

“One is drinking, the other one’s talking about other people in regards to that.

“I’ll let other people deal with the issues that are personal to them, and I won’t be adding commentary to it.”

Anthony Albanese was asked about alcohol in parliament during a press conference in Perth.

“There is no alcohol in my office,” the prime minister told reporters.

“There are events in Parliament House. A bit of common sense should apply. People are adults and they should behave responsibly, like any adult should.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton doesn’t back breath-testing MPs.

“There is a change of behaviour that’s required from some individuals,” he said.

“People can have a drink in moderation, you can catch up with friends, you can attend social functions.

“But you need to take responsibility – particularly if you’re in the public eye – and I think a lot of people will learn a lesson from it.”

Nationals leader David Littleproud said the criticism of Senator Davey was “overreach”.

“I have every confidence in Perin and her ability … she’s been very clear that she wasn’t drunk and I support her wholeheartedly,” he said.

“We actually are responsible as adults as we go to parliament, and Perin takes that very seriously.”

Labor cabinet minister Tanya Plibersek said alcohol testing wasn’t the right approach.

“What you see is a few high‑profile cases that I suppose give the impression that we’re all out there on the turps every night,” she said.

“It’s simply not the case.

“People shouldn’t be drunk at work and I really think adults need to think very hard about their consumption of alcohol in the workplace.”

– AAP

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