February 10, 2024

‘He’s obviously unwell’: Barnaby Joyce filmed lying on Canberra street

By Angus Thompson, Mike Foley and Paul Sakkal
Updated February 10, 2024 — 12.15amfirst published February 9, 2024 — 4.00pm
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Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce says he was talking to his wife Vikki Campion before he fell off a planter box, and was swearing because he hurt himself, after he was caught on video lying on his back on a footpath late at night mumbling obscenities on his phone.

Video obtained and first published by Daily Mail Australia, showed Joyce on his back in Lonsdale Street, a popular Canberra restaurant street, after 11.30pm on Wednesday, prompting several Nationals colleagues to ask why he wasn’t helped to his feet.

Joyce said he was swearing because he had injured himself falling off one of the street’s planter boxes.

“If I’d known I was being filmed, probably would have got up quicker,” he said.

A statement issued by his office said he was very embarrassed by the scene.

“I was walking back to my accommodation after Parliament rose at 10pm,” the statement reads. “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.”

Barnaby Joyce said he was swearing because he hurt himself falling off a planter box while speaking to his wife.Credit: Nine

Joyce said he then got up and walked home after the phone call with Campion.

Witnesses say Joyce was seen at two functions at Parliament House on Wednesday night.


Former deputy prime minister Michael McCormack, who was rolled for the Nationals leadership by Joyce in June 2021, told this masthead that “people will make up their own minds on what they think of the video”.

“But it does go to show modern society, where somebody chooses to video another person on the ground rather than going to help. Whatever happened to the good Samaritan?” McCormack said.

“He’s obviously on the ground and unwell. The person [taking the video] has realised it was Barnaby, because they wouldn’t just start filming anybody lying on the ground, and they’ve walked past, walked back and then walked back again past him and videoed.

“Why not keep the phone in the pocket and go say, ‘Hey mate are you all right?’”

Queensland Nationals MP Keith Pitt said Joyce had responded to the publication of the video, saying he was embarrassed. “I won’t be providing additional comments from the cheap seats,” Pitt said.

“It’s a poor reflection on society that passers-by reach for their phones first and a help hand second, or, in this case, it appears not at all.”

Not all responses were so glowing about Joyce’s behaviour. One Nationals MP, who had seen the footage but declined to be named, said that when parliamentarians entered public life they forfeited certain rights.


“One of those is getting pissed and lying in the main street of our nation’s capital. This is complete buffoonery and if the Nationals leader doesn’t use this to consign him to the backbench for eternity then I don’t know what will,” the MP said. “I’m embarrassed for the Nationals, I’m embarrassed for the Coalition and I’m embarrassed for Australia.”

Nationals leader David Littleproud has declined to comment.

Campion told news.com.au that she was on the phone with Joyce at the time.

“I’ve been with Barnaby when we have found a man in the same state on the street and rather than take a video and sell it to the media, he picked the guy up and took him home. We later found out there had been problems with his medication and if he hadn’t helped him back he could have been in a very bad situation,” Campion said.

Nationals deputy leader Perin Davey said she shared Campion’s and her colleagues’ concerns “that someone would film Barnaby rather than checking to see he is OK. I am glad that Barnaby is OK and it wasn’t anything more serious than overbalancing.”

Coalition colleagues have since checked on Joyce’s welfare.

Asked about the video during a radio interview on Friday evening, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was up to Joyce to “explain the circumstances”.

“I have seen that footage … I think that’s a matter for him. I don’t intend to comment on what is clearly a difficult circumstance for Barnaby Joyce,” Albanese told Oliver Peterson on 6PR Perth.

This is not the first time Joyce’s behaviour has attracted attention. The breakdown of his relationship with his first wife prompted then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to institute a “bonk ban” barring ministers from relationships with their staff.

In December 2021, The Saturday Paper reported that Joyce, then-deputy prime minister, urged his colleagues to be very careful about their conduct in public during the festive season as their photos could be taken anywhere.

According to the report, he urged colleagues to look after each other if they were drunk and send them home in cabs.

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Angus Thompson is a federal workplace, education and migration reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.Connect via Twitter or email.
Mike Foley is the climate and energy correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.Connect via email.
Paul Sakkal is the federal political correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, based in Canberra.Connect via Twitter.


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