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Joyce quits alcohol after Canberra footpath ‘disgrace’

Joyce reflects on Canberra footpath incident

Source: Sunrise

Nationals frontbencher Barnaby Joyce has ditched alcohol and shed kilograms after his embarrassing Canberra footpath incident earlier this year.

The former deputy prime minister and ex-Nationals leader has told The Sydney Morning Herald he has embraced a healthier lifestyle since video emerged in February showing him lying on a Canberra street late at night after falling from a planter box, swearing into his phone.

In the days that followed, Joyce – the opposition’s spokesman for veterans affairs – blamed the effects of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs. He admitted it was embarrassing and said there was “no excuse”.

Reflecting on the incident to the SMH, Joyce said the night was a wake-up call.

“Big swathes of the night I don’t remember. And that’s never, ever happened to me before. And I never, ever want it to happen again,” the 57-year-old said.

“I disgraced myself and I just woke up the next morning and said ‘that’ll do’, so I didn’t have another drink.”

Joyce said he hadn’t touched a drink since that infamous night, and he and wife Vicki no longer have alcohol in their home.

He has also lost 15 kilograms, through running, playing touch football and “physical work”, including fencing, on his property in northern NSW.

In the days following the footpath footage, Nationals leader David Littleproud and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton urged Joyce to take leave to resolve “personal circumstances” that might have led to it.

Joyce has previously been frank about mental health troubles and his ill-advised decision to mix alcohol with medication. But he insists he is not an alcoholic.

“If I was, it would have been impossible [to quit], I would have been desperately looking around [for a drink]. I just literally woke up one morning and said ‘that’s it’,” he told the SMH.

“People around me said ‘you never really got shitfaced, you’d have a couple of drinks and stop’. But that night I did.”

He has also not ruled out raising a glass again in the future.

“Maybe at some stage I’ll have a beer again, but at the moment, nah,” he said.

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