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National MP Abstains from Alcohol for Lent as Politicians Discuss Prohibition on Drinking

Nationals Deputy Leader Perin Davey has admitted to consuming two glasses of red wine before a Senate committee.

Nationals parliamentary Barnaby Joyce has announced he is giving up drinking after a video surfaced of him lying on the ground in a suit shouting expletives in Canberra.

Debate over alcohol at parliament house is now rising in light of the news that Nationals deputy leader Perin Davey had two glasses of wine at an event prior to a Senate estimates hearing.

Speaking on Sunrise, Mr. Joyce said, “I have given up two things for lent, one is drinking, the other one is talking about other people in regards to that.”

“I won’t be adding commentary to it—sometimes I do get a sense of ‘let’s exploit this issue politically for all the purpose we can get.’ That is an issue for the parties to decide, I will let them have that discussion.”

Mr. Joyce was filmed by the Daily Mail saying “dead [expletive] [expletive]” while talking on the phone on Feb. 7 after a late parliamentary sitting. After the incident, Mr. Joyce admitted he made ”a big mistake“ and there was ”no excuse for it.”

“I’m on a prescription drug, and they say certain things may happen to you if you drink, and they were absolutely 100 percent right,” he said on Feb. 12.

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His colleague Ms. Davey has hit headlines recently after she appeared at a Senate hearing after two glasses of red wine and stumbled over the words.

However, the Senator told Sky News, “I don’t think I was drunk. I wouldn’t say I was under the weather. I stumbled over my words.”

Debate has now ignited about whether alcohol should be banned at parliament house, or whether MPs should be subjected to testing like some other corporate workplaces.

Plibersek Says Most Parliamentarians Don’t Drink At Work

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek revealed she does not support alcoholic drug testing at parliament house but said most politicians don’t drink at work.

“I think the first thing to say is people shouldn’t be drunk at work. I know it sounds obvious, but people shouldn’t be drunk at work. And I really think adults need to think very hard about their consumption of alcohol in the workplace. I don’t really see any cause for it at all,” she said on Feb. 19.

“I don’t know whether a booze ban is the way to fix that. The truth is most parliamentarians don’t drink at work. What you see is a few high-profile cases that I suppose give the impression that we’re all out there, you know, on the turps every night. It’s simply not the case. It’s simply not the case that most people are behaving this way.”

Ms. Plibersek said if random testing was introduced, she would submit herself to it like anybody else, adding, “I really don’t think it’s the right approach.”

“I think if you trust people to be elected to the federal Parliament to run the country, but you can’t trust them not to drink at work, there’s a real problem.

“And for those people—I’m not making any comments about any individuals here—but for those people who end up on the wrong side of this discussion, I think it is something that they need to work through; first of all with the constituents that give them the great honour of being sent to represent them in Canberra in the national parliament, with their political parties, and with their families.”

Parliamentarians Discuss Booze Ban and Alcohol Testing

Independent “Teal” MP Zali Steggall pressed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the alcohol issue in Parliament on Feb. 15, noting many workplaces in Australia have alcohol and drug testing.

She asked Mr. Albanese, “Will you commit to legislating for random alcohol and drug testing of MPs, senators, and staff in the federal parliament due to the apparent ongoing issues with too much alcohol consumption?”

In response, the prime minister said it was “not something that I have supported.” Mr. Albanese said people need to act responsiblity at all times and bear in mind the “great privilege and honour” they have of being in various positions in the chamber.

However, Ms. Steggall posted on X that it was “not a very satisfactory answer” and expressed support for random alcohol and drug testing at parliament.

“The privilege of being in Parliament does not outweigh the benefit of random alcohol and drug testing to ensure a safe and respectful workplace,” Ms. Steggall said.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton advocated personal responsibility when asked about a a potential alcohol ban at parliament house on Feb. 19.

“I think people have got to take responsibility for their own actions. The public holds those of us in public life to a higher standard, and that’s appropriately so,” Mr. Dutton said.

He answered, “no” when pressed by Sunrise host Natalie Barr on whether he would support a booze ban and alcohol and drug testing at Parliament House.

“No. Look, I think the prime minister got this right last week, and that is that there is a change of behaviour that’s required from some individuals.

“But, when you get a workplace that swells when Parliament sits to a couple of thousand people who come from all over the country, in the Senate, in the House of Representatives and staff, etc., you are going to have instances from time to time.

“Now, that doesn’t excuse it, but it says that 99 percent of people are doing the right thing, and you need to be extra careful. I think that’s the lesson that you can take out of it.”

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