The Jackie Kelly pamphlet affair gives context to the behaviour of another John Howard favourite, Senator Bill Heffernan, making it all the more relevant in the last moments of this federal election campaign.

Yesterday we reported sketchy details of an incident at Brisbane airport where the Senator created something of a scene. At the time, we didn’t know all that much about what had happened. Today we know more — the complete story follows in today’s edition. Interestingly, it wasn’t the original Brisbane exchange but Heffernan’s conduct in phone conversations to this office that gave Crikey the biggest window to the belligerent world of the Howard government’s back rooms.

The Senator demanded that we retract our fairly anodyne report of yesterday. He demanded we apologise. Our legal advice was that we ought not, that we should seek the Senator’s version and publish that. He refused to give it and went on to threaten physical violence. ”If I ever run across you,” the former parliamentary secretary to the Cabinet said, ”If I ever run across you, you f-cking better … you’re f-cking gone mate.’’ Nice.

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As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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