Barnaby Joyce to take leave weeks after embarrassing footage

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce will miss Parliament this week to spend time with his family, just weeks after being filmed intoxicated on a Canberra footpath.

Nationals leader David Littleproud confirmed the absence on Monday.

“He won’t be here this week,” Littleproud told Channel Nine’s Today program. “He’s notified me that he won’t be coming to Parliament.”

“He’s having the week off, which we gave him the opportunity to undertake with his family, and I respect that,” he added.

A video of Joyce, first published by The Daily Mail on February 9, showed the Nationals MP lying on his back swearing into his phone on a Canberra street after falling off a planter box.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and Littleproud both urged Joyce to take leave and get the help – advice the Joyce initially rejected.

“Barnaby’s embarrassed himself and his family, and while he’s clearly articulated some of the underlying issues and circumstances, there are other circumstances that I’m not going to break his confidence on,” Littleproud said.

It is understood that a close family member of Joyce has been diagnosed with a serious illness.

While Joyce apologised for what he called “a big mistake” he maintained he did not have a drinking problem.

“I don’t have a drinking problem,” Joyce told Sky News, adding, “I go long periods without having a drink.”

“It’s been confirmed I don’t have a drinking problem, just shouldn’t drink on medication,” he said.

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