Australian politician blames prescription drugs for drunken scandal

Aprilia Rine

Australian politician blames prescription drugs for drunken scandal

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce was filmed swearing while lying on a Canberra sidewalk with his feet in a plant box

Former Australian deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has admitted he erred by mixing prescription drugs and alcohol, after a video of him drunkenly mumbling into his cell phone while lying on a sidewalk with his feet in a potted plant went viral over the weekend. 

“I’m on a prescription drug, and they say certain things may happen to you if you drink, and they were absolutely 100% right,” Joyce explained in an interview with the Seven network on Monday, insisting he was “not looking for sympathy” or making excuses.

I came back, I sat on a planter box, I fell off, and I was videotaped. There you go.

In the video, filmed Wednesday night following Question Time in Parliament, the Nationals MP can be seen lying on the sidewalk with his feet in a planter, muttering “dead f**ing c**t” into his cell phone. It was later revealed he was talking to his wife, Vikki Campion. 

Campion, who told media she was “half asleep” when she received the call, said he was almost certainly addressing the profanity to himself.

“I think he was calling himself one. He likes to self-flagellate,” she said.

Joyce concurred, telling the Daily Mail he “sat on the edge of a plant box, fell over, kept talking on the phone, and very animatedly was referring to myself for having fallen over.” 

While describing the video as “very embarrassing” on Friday, Joyce left out any mention of drugs or alcohol, merely quipping, “If I had known someone was there with a camera, I would have gotten up quicker.”

Leader of the Nationals David Littleproud told reporters he had spoken to Joyce several times over the weekend and expected him back in Parliament on Monday. “This was an error of judgment but there are circumstances surrounding it,” he said, stressing that the incident was “not normal behavior” for the MP, and promising to “make sure that [Joyce has] all the support that he needs.”

The party leader declined to comment on whether Joyce had a problem with alcohol, arguing that “no one is perfect.”

Greens leader Adam Bandt criticized his colleagues for what he framed as a double-standard regarding politicians’ public behavior, insisting there would be “widespread condemnation” if a female MP had been filmed in a similarly compromising position. 

His comment appeared to reference an incident last year in which independent senator Lidia Thorpe was filmed arguing profanely with a group of men outside a strip club. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who merely demanded an “explanation” from Joyce’s party, had gone much further in denouncing Thorpe’s viral moment, describing her behavior as “quite clearly unacceptable” for “anyone who should be participating in society in a normal way, let alone a senator.” 

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