Opposition leader Peter Dutton has defended Barnaby Joyce after he was caught on video lying on his back near a gutter and mumbling profanities into his phone.
Daily Mail Australia revealed exclusive footage of the nation’s former deputy prime minister, 56, sprawled on the footpath at Lonsdale Street, in the Canberra suburb of Braddon on Wednesday at 11.26pm.
Sources claimed the Nationals frontbencher was sitting on the large pot plant while having an animated phone conversation with his wife, Vikki Campion, when he fell off, ‘rolled around’ on the ground and continued with his call.
The incident has prompted calls from Labor for the Nationals MP to front up and explain the ‘disturbing’ incident while Mr Dutton has defended Mr Joyce.
‘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 (Nationals leader) David Littleproud spoke with Barnaby… as well this week and that’s where the situation is at at the moment.’
Mr Dutton broke his silence as a chalk drawing of Mr Joyce’s profile was spotted by residents at the site where the ex-Nationals leader had tumbled.
The real image of Mr Joyce lying on the ground close to the gutter and traffic is pictured
Peter Dutton (pictured) has defended Barnaby Joyce after he was caught on video lying on his back near a gutter, as a brazen memorial appeared at the site
Opposition treasury spokesman Angus Taylor said Mr Joyce’s welfare must be the top priority.
‘Look, people like to jump to conclusions on these things and I’m certainly not doing that and I don’t think anyone should,’ he told ABC’s Insiders.
‘I think the primary issue for us is Barnaby’s welfare and we will – we will remain focused on that. I certainly will remain focused on that.
‘He clearly wasn’t (OK) at the time.’
A photo of the chalk outline was shared to Reddit where social media users called for a permanent marker to be installed at the spot.
‘Really needs to be cast in bronze,’ one wrote.
Another added: ‘We should put a little plaque there.’
‘I love how creative people are – genuinely it makes me feel better, especially knowing that there are Australians out there that voted him in in the first place,’ a third wrote.
Mr Joyce, who is the Opposition Veteran’s Affairs spokesman, brushed off the video as ’embarrassing’ and said he had fallen over a planter after walking home from a late night parliamentary function.
‘I was walking back to my accommodation after Parliament rose at 10pm,’ he said.
‘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.
‘I got up and walked home.’
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the situation was a matter for the Opposition, but called on Mr Joyce to front up and 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.
Over the weekend, a cheeky crime scene chalk outline (pictured) of Mr Joyce appeared on the spot to mark the latest incident to befall a man prone to making headlines for the wrong reasons
‘I’m not going to take shots at Barnaby about it. He needs to explain it.’
Peter Campion, father of Mr Joyce’s wife Vikki Campion, said the former deputy prime minister had received a devastating message shortly before the incident.
‘He had some very bad family news on that day,’ Mr Campion told Daily Mail Australia on Saturday.
‘He’s already lost a brother to cancer, that’s what you’ve got to begin with. He had some very bad similar news, which is not up to me divulge but of the same scale and it affected him deeply.
‘As my daughter said he was in a very, very bad place and was deeply depressed.
‘Any decent person coming across someone in that position, so sad that they have let themselves collapse on the footpath would stop and help, not just take a video clip and sell it to the media.
‘The biggest part of this story was not that Barnaby was an emotional wreck on the footpath, it is the lack of caring nature of his countrymen, his fellow Australians.’