Former parliamentary secretary to the prime
minister Bill Heffernan has become the latest political name cited at the Cole
Inquiry.

AWB’s government relations manager Andrew
McConville flagged a May 3, 2000, meeting in an email
presented to Cole yesterday between Heffernan, AWB chair Trevor Flugge and
managing director Andrew Lindberg, shortly after Canada
complained that AWB was paying kickbacks.

Heffernan said yesterday he had no record
or recollection of any such meeting, and that his diary flagged he was not in Canberra at the
time.

The suggestion of the meeting makes
Heffernan’s comments on wheat on SBS TV’s Dateline more interesting:

GEORGE NEGUS: So they
were caught up in this international corruption web that you were talking about
where wheat is concerned?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: There is no question that I am disappointed. These buggers
have been coming to my office for 2.5 years telling me lies.

GEORGE NEGUS: When these
buggers, as you put it, came through your door, did you go to Alexander Downer?
Did you go to Mark Vaile? Did you go to the PM?

SENATOR BILL HEFFERNAN: When they came through my door, I kept saying to them we
hear that you blokes are on the take, as it were, or giving kickbacks, and they
just kept saying to us, well, that stick them damn Yanks trying to take our
market share.

Heffernan
is not always the most reliable witness – but does the loose cannon know about
a smoking gun?

Peter Fray

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