Barnaby Joyce has blamed mixing a “prescription drug” with alcohol after he was seen in an embarrassing video lying on his back on a footpath in Canberra mumbling into his phone.
Mr Joyce also revealed the “good Samaritan” who eventually came to his aid was an “Indian taxi driver”.
The Nationals frontbencher told Seven’s Sunrise on Monday morning that “obviously I made a big mistake” and “there’s no excuse for it” but “there is a reason”.
“It was a very eventful walk home, wasn’t it,” he said.
“I should’ve followed … I’m on a prescription drug, and they say certain things may happen to you if you drink, and they were absolutely 100 per cent right. They did.”
Host Nat Barr asked, “So you mixed alcohol with prescription medication, did you, and this is what happened?”
“That’s exactly what I said, yep,” Mr Joyce said.
The video footage, first obtained by The Daily Mail last week, showed Mr Joyce, 56, lying on the ground on Lonsdale Street in Braddon on Wednesday night, swearing on the phone to wife Vikki Campion.
He had earlier brushed it off as “embarrassing” and said he had fallen over a planter after walking home from a late-night parliamentary function.
“While on the phone I 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,” Mr Joyce told news.com.au last week.
Nationals leader David Littleproud had said Mr Joyce was going to get the support that he needed. “Do you need support over this?” Barr asked Mr Joyce on Sunrise.
“Well, look … I’m not looking for sympathy and I’m not looking for an excuse,” Mr Joyce said.
“I will just stand by that. What I said is what I said. I came back, I sat on a planter box, I fell off and I was videotaped. There you go. What else can you say?”
Barr suggested if something similar happened to a company executive “and they were on the ground like that, and they were affected by alcohol, they may be reprimanded”.
“Do you think you should be? There’s talk about that this morning,” she said.
Mr Joyce said that was “not really my decision”. “I’m not going to enter into a long dialogue about what other people may want to do,” he said.
“Are you kind of angry that you were lying on the ground and someone filmed you and no one helped you?” Barr asked.
“Well, that’s a question for them, you know,” Mr Joyce said.
“For 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.”
Asked for her reaction, Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek said there had been “plenty of commentary” on the video. “I won’t add to it,” she said. “It’s a matter for Barnaby and his family and his party to sort through.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Sunday said Mr Joyce should explain himself.
“It is up to Barnaby Joyce to explain the circumstances around this,” Mr Albanese told the ABC.
“People will certainly make their own judgements on that. People will see that footage, they will look for an explanation that has some credibility and they’ll look for leadership from the leader of the Liberal Party and the leader of the National Party about this.”
Mr Littleproud earlier told 4BC he was “surprised” by Mr Joyce’s behaviour, but ruled out demoting the twice-serving party leader.
“There’ll be further conversations with Barnaby to make sure we put the environment around him that he needs to make sure whatever challenges he’s got,” he said.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton had defended Mr Joyce and criticised passers-by for not checking on the MP’s welfare.
“It’s pretty rough when people are walking past somebody who might need support,” Mr Dutton told Sky News on Sunday.
“But I’ll have a chat with Barnaby this week and [as you said] said David Littleproud spoke with Barnaby … as well this week and that’s where the situation is out at the moment.”
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the situation was a matter for the opposition to deal with and called for Mr Joyce explain his behaviour to the public.
“I know that people will have their fun with it, but from a personal point of view – I don’t like to see anyone in that state. I find it a little disturbing,” Dr Chalmers told Sky News on Sunday. “I’m not going to take shots at Barnaby about it. He needs to explain it.
Coalition treasury spokesman Angus Taylor urged against people “jumping to conclusions” and acknowledged concerns about Mr Joyce’s wellbeing.
“He clearly wasn’t [okay] and that’s something we’re going to focus on – and we should focus on that. But the jumping to conclusions we’ve seen is a bit of a habit in the modern world,” Mr Taylor told ABC on Sunday.
Independent Lidia Thorpe labelled the reaction to the video “sexist” after she faced a wave of backlash after being filmed outside of a strip club in Melbourne’s inner north in April last year.
“Parliament is still a private school boys club, and this is the latest example of the double standards we see from men in power,” she told news.com.au.
Mr Joyce will reportedly skip a party meeting on Monday where the incident will be discussed.
— with NCA NewsWire