Senator Bill Heffernan’s Tuesday night bombshell was not without precedent.
Senator Heffernan was widely criticised in June last year for using the cover of parliamentary privilege to allege that a prominent Abo-riginal leader had sexually abused children.
At the time, Prime Minister John Howard described Sen-ator Heffernan as a person who holds strong views about a lot of things and people respect him for them and he holds them conscientiously.
A Liberal Party member who spoke to Sydney Star Observer yesterday said Heffernan had also made allegations of paedophilia at a Liberal Party state executive meeting last year against various party members associated with prominent lawyer John Marsden.
Australian Democrats Sena-tor Brian Greig told the Star that he had experienced Heffer-nan’s homophobia first-hand.
Senator Greig said he had been addressed in the chamber last year by Senator Hef-fernan after he (Greig) had spoken to a superannuation amendment bill, arguing for same-sex couple recognition to be included as part of the bill.
Heffernan crossed the floor of the chamber and leaned over my desk in what I felt was quite a threatening manner, Senator Greig said. [He] then proceeded to lecture me about how I shouldn’t be talking about that stuff in the chamber, I should be talking about paedophilia, and urging the gay and lesbian community to do something about paedophilia because we were responsible for it.
On another occasion, at the launch of a group called Par-liamentarians Against Child Sexual Abuse, Senator Greig said he was again accosted by Senator Heffernan.
While I was [at the] launch, Heffernan saw me. I was there with a gay staffer from another Democrats office. He walked over to us and started remonstrating with us and said, -˜I’m glad you blokes are here, because you’ve got a lot to answer for,’ by which he meant homosexuals, Senator Greig said.
Other parliamentarians have commented on Senator Heffernan’s behaviour. Labor MP Mark Latham told the House of Representatives last year (see inset) that Senator Heffernan had a bizarre obsession with homosexuality and had turned his office into a star chamber to satisfy his own homophobic and bigoted views.
And the Member for Sydney, Labor MP Tanya Plibersek, claimed that Senator Heffer-nan had been trying to interest journalists in the accusations for some time. Plibersek said that journalist Michelle Grattan reported in August 2000 that in relation to paedophilia, Heffernan is regarded by many colleagues as obsessed.