It’s not a good day for favourites of the Prime Minister. First Jackie Kelly – and now there’s more on Bill Heffernan and his rough flight into Brisbane on Tuesday.
Accounts diverge, but what’s not disputed is that the New South Wales Senator was a passenger on a Qantas service from Canberra to Brisbane.
It was early evening, shortly after sunset. The flight landed hard. Teeth slappingly hard. The pilot in charge decided to perform a full-power go-around.
The jet made a second, normal landing. Crikey understands it was inspected for any damage and passed as fit to return to service. Qantas promptly and correctly filed a safety incident report with the Air Transport Safety Bureau.
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All over? Apparently not. On landing Heffernan presented himself to the pilots in the plane. He allegedly made impolitic remarks and represented himself as a Civil Aviation Safety Authority officer. A meeting was then hastily convened in the Chairman’s Lounge with the Qantas duty manager to discuss events, with the Senator insisting the aircraft concerned be grounded pending a full inspection.
Heffernan disputes the account. “This is complete sh-t mate,” the former Parliamentary Secretary to Cabinet told Crikey. “They knew who I f-cking was, it was on the f-cking ticket, Senator Bill f-cking Heffernan.
“I presented myself as the chairman of the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee, who do all the investigations.”
Heffernan denies the alternative account.
“They are telling you f-cking lies,” he said. “Why do you people run this sh-t? You’re as bad as the f-cking Chaser. You’ve got to retract it and f-cking apologise, or fair dinkum I’ll f-cking go you.”
Heffernan denies any confrontation in the Chairman’s Lounge. “I requested the f-cking meeting.” He added “If I ever run across you, you f-cking better … you’re f-cking gone mate.”
CASA seemed to be anticipating Crikey’s call. We were told that it is not a specific offence to impersonate a CASA officer. There is, Crikey understands, a provision in the Commonwealth Crimes Act which defines the impersonation of a Commonwealth officer as a criminal offence, for which the maximum penalty is two years’ jail.
In June, The Age reported “Senator Bill Heffernan’s latest foray into the world of strange politics has been to pose as an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation agent. That’s when he’s not phoning Queensland farmers claiming to be Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce …”
The Age quoted Heffernan as saying. “Can’t a bloke have any fun any more?” Or as he said yesterday, ”You blokes take yourselves too f-cking seriously.”