Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Heff?


The David Hicks case provides an interesting insight into the mind of John Howard. I have no doubt that Howard believes Hicks is guilty of war crimes.


Howard appears spooked by terrorists. Random or spontaneous acts of anything, let alone terrorism are events that a controlling personality like Howard fears. And what does Howard base his knowledge and certainty of the guilt of Hicks upon? Apparently, hearsay.

Terrorists and foxes are cunning, secretive, persistent and resilient. Howard is a fox. All pad the beat at dawn ever watchful for the open chook house door.

Like a fox, Howard listens, looks and sniffs the wind. He puts together information and rumour and, no doubt, gives weight in accordance with his limited experience (outside Parliament), his conservative perceptions and his prejudices. Like a fox, he stores information to be used when needed.

Which brings us to Senator Bill Heffernan and his alleged maintenance of dirt files on behalf of Howard. The bungled attempt by Senator Heffernan, with hearsay evidence, to nobble Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court in 2002 is now part of Australian history. Recent allegations of a dirt file compiled by Senator Heffernan on former Leader of the NSW Liberal Party, John Brogden, coupled with allegations of Heffernan’s intimidation and bullying indicate a mentality and type of behaviour which should not be tolerated in Australian politics.

In August last year, at the time that Senator Barnaby Joyce was being bullied by Senator Heffernan on the floor of the Senate, I rang Senator Heffernan’s office and suggested in the interest of good government he lay off. As I always do, I left my name and telephone number.

Senator Heffernan rang back and said, ‘It’s the devil here.’ I asked, ‘Which one?’ to which he replied ‘Heffernan.’ Not Bill nor Senator but Heffernan. Puerile. Is this the way our representatives talk to each other?

Next, he said ‘I have a file on you.’ My response was that it would not be as big ‘as the one held by Denis Richardson’ (the former head of ASIO).*

Whether Senator Heffernan has a file on me is not the issue. The fact that a representative of the Australian Parliament can ring a constituent and offer the threat that he is keeping a file on them, with the implication that it is not for the positive benefit of the constituent, indicates a deterioration in public morality that is of great concern. This is the mentality of the police State. To threaten a constituent in that manner does not accord with what this Government claims to be fighting for in the War on Terror. Nor can such an exchange be written off as a joke.

If Senator Heffernan is keeping a file on me and others in his office in the Australian Parliament he should be required to give this information to the Clerk of the Senate who in turn should hand it back to those who might have been the subject of the Senator’s perverse obsessions.

Thanks to Emo.

Senator Heffernan should be made to answer to the Australian people through the Senate and if found guilty should be dismissed by the Prime Minister and expelled from his Party. Far higher standards are expected from elected representatives.

The Prime Minister should not encourage nor condone this type of bullying, nor should he condone the dissemination of information so gained whether it be from Senator Heffernan or the United States Administration.

*(New Matilda telephoned Senator Heffernan’s office and asked him to respond. He called back, laughing, saying, ‘It’s the devil here,’ and denied that he had a file on Bruce Haigh. He claimed there was no bad blood between him and Barnaby Joyce and that in the famous picture of them eyeballing each other, it was Joyce who was giving Heffernan a hard time. Asked why he is thought of as the Government’s ‘hard man,’ he maintained that, ‘If you dish it up, you’ve got to be prepared to take it.’)

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.