Barnaby Joyce diagnosed with sleep disorder on SBS show in latest health scare

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce’s health is set to return to the spotlight, weeks after he was filmed lying face-up, dazed and intoxicated on a Canberra footpath, having fallen off a planter box.

SBS is airing a show called Australia’s Sleep Revolution with Dr Michael Mosley from March 6 onwards, with its third episode set to feature Mr Joyce and three other politicians.

The program measures Mr Joyce’s blood pressure both before and after 10 sitting days of parliament, and also straps him to devices to monitor his sleep, according to The Australian Financial Review’s media reporter Sam Buckingham-Jones.

Mr Joyce reportedly predicts the experience will be “terrifying”, noting that the parliamentary lifestyle is not one “that’s good for sleep”.

After the sitting fortnight, the program says the MP’s blood pressure has “gone from high to dangerously high”.

“You’ve got what we call COMISA. Co-morbid sleep apnoea and insomnia,” an expert tells the former deputy PM.

“On average, people with that combination die earlier.”

Another notes that Parliament House “seems like a pretty unhealthy workplace”, and asks Mr Joyce how it could be made healthier.

“Yeah, I suppose it’s … umm … I’m trying to work out how you do that,” Mr Joyce responds, according to the AFR.

“Overwhelmingly, people all live somewhere else. They fly here. They do whatever they’ve got to do, because they’ve got to get it out of the way. And they fly out.

“I’ll do more than think about it. Because it’s on television.”

The three other politicians involved in the program after Senator Jacqui Lambie and a pair of Labor MPs, Mike Freelander and Josh Wilson.

Joyce takes leave from parliament

It was revealed on Monday morning that Mr Joyce, a former leader of the National Party, would not be attending parliament this week, having been advised to take time off in the wake of his incident on the Canberra footpath.

The footage, first published by The Daily Mail earlier this month, showed Mr Joyce on his back and mumbling obscenities into his phone. He later explained he had mixed alcohol and prescription drugs during an event at Parliament House earlier in the evening.

Mr Joyce stressed that he was “not looking for sympathy”.

“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,” he said at the time.

“I’m not looking for an excuse. I’ll 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.”

In the immediate aftermath, Nationals leader David Littleproud said Mr Joyce’s behaviour was “not normal” and he had “embarrassed himself and embarrassed his family”.

“But it’s important to understand that there are circumstances that are greater than what has publicly been (revealed) around a mixture of medication and alcohol,” Mr Littleproud said.

“There’s some family circumstances that his family need to deal with, and I encouraged him to take some time to deal with that emotionally to make sure that his family understood that he was there for them.

“If Barnaby wants to make that public, it’s up to him. But I’ve got to work through this with the information that I’m provided to make sure that I create that environment of support, and ensuring that he gets every piece of support that he needs.”

At the time, Mr Joyce reportedly “welcomed the offer” to take time off and “wanted to go away and consider it”.

Speaking on Channel 9 on Monday, Mr Littleproud confirmed the former deputy PM would indeed be away from parliament for the week.

“He won’t be here this week,” Mr Littleproud said.

“He’s notified me that he won’t be coming to parliament.

“He’s having the week off, which we gave him the opportunity to undertake with his family, and I respect that.”

That said, Mr Joyce did appear for his regular spot on Channel 7 to debate the political issues of the day

In the weeks after the Joyce incident, the role of alcohol in parliament again arose, with deputy Nationals leader Perin Davey appearing to be intoxicated during a late-night Senate estimates hearing. Ms Davey was heard slurring her words.

Ms Davey admitted she had consumed two glasses of wine earlier in the evening, but said she was not drunk, saying a medical episode in 2019 had left her with ongoing speech issues. She said that had been a contributing factor.

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