Out embarrassing the PM again, Heffernan has now been caught swearing at a teacher and the parent of a student.
Senator Bill Heffernan has stopped just short of apologising to Rooty Hill High School after launching an expletive-riddled tirade at a teacher and the parent of a student at the school.
According to teacher Dean Newbold, the attack took place on August 15 as he and parent Greg White met with Senator Marise Payne in her Canberra office to discuss the school’s funding shortfall, with Heffernan saying to the pair, “Don’t give me that shit, what are you fucking doing about it?”
The Rooty Hill pair were not aware that Heffernan was even planning to be at the meeting with Payne, with the controversial NSW Senator refusing their offer of a personal meeting. Payne had mentioned to Newbold in the weeks leading up to their meeting that Heffernan might be planning to attend, but later changed this, saying that Heffernan would definitely not be attending.
However, Newbold and White arrived at Payne’s office to find Senator Heffernan sitting on the lounge, with Heffernan beginning his tirade “from minute one”.
“I should have read from the body language that we were in a bit of trouble”, said Newbold. “It was clear to me from early on that we were sport, that he was there for a good time, and his idea of a good time was making us suffer.”
“There was no build-up. It was from the start, go for the throat.”
Newbold, a history and geography teacher at the school, claims he did not respond in kind to Heffernan’s attack as he “was there representing the school”.
Newbold and White then tried to concentrate their efforts on ignoring Heffernan and “talking sensibly” to Senator Payne, but were again thwarted by Heffernan.
“He wasn’t impressed by that”, said Newbold. “He got out of his chair and was marching around the room, leaning over people and pointing in at their chest. It was really ugly.”
“The poor parent who was with me, he’s a bloke that doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t swear; his jaw was on the floor.”
So embarassed was White by Heffernan’s behaviour, he even apologised to Payne at the end of the meeting, with Payne replying, “That’s just Bill’s way. We might not use the same language but we agree on the policy”
The next day Newbold faxed an angry letter to Prime Minister John Howard slamming Heffernan for his “insulting and bullying behviour”.
Just over an hour after sending the fax, Rooty Hill High School’s principal Christine Cawsey received a conciliatory phone call from Heffernan, where it is understood he offered his assistance to the school in receiving funding for a new sewerage system.
This week, Senator Heffernan’s office initially claimed that the senator could not be contacted regarding the incident as he was in Kununurra, but later changed this saying that he was simply “tied up with other meetings”.
“I assume it’s going to be biased report anyway”, ‘Jane’, the staffer from Heffernan’s office who returned Manic Times’ calls, replied.
Jane was able to confirm that Senator Heffernan is planning to visit the school with the federal Labor member for Chifley, Roger Price, in the near future.
Senator Payne’s office did not respond to Manic Times’ inquiries.
Whilst his preferred pastime in 2007 has been interrupting other people’s press conferences, Senator Heffernan has built a strong reputation for saying stupid things and then apologising for it:
2002 – Used parliamentary privilege to accuse High Court judge Michael Kirby of using a government car to pick up male prostitutes. He later had to withdraw his claims and resign as Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet after his evidence was revealed to be false.
2006 – Was forced to apologise to Nationals Senator Fiona Nash after an altercation with her at Canberra Airport during which he told her to “blow it out her backside”.
2007 – Declared in an interview with The Bulletin that deputy opposition leader Julia Gillard was unfit to lead the nation because she was “deliberately barren”. Classy.