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Public servant rips into Heffernan over Senate Estimates chairmanship

Senator Bill Heffernan is a “shithouse chair” says a senior public servant, who wrote to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee chair in an anonymous letter.

Heffernan read the letter into Hansard at Senate Estimates on Monday morning before proceeding to discuss the issue of alterations made to Hansard last year by the office of Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, a debacle that ultimately led to the resignation of Department of Agriculture secretary Paul Grimes. The letter read:

“Dear Senator Heffernan, I was one of the many senior public servants waiting around in the witness room to appear before you in committee on Tuesday night’ — this is in February,” the letter read.

“We waited and waited. Three hours went by as we all sat round twiddling our thumbs, watching you and your dipshit colleagues trying to score political points off each other.

“You are a shithouse chair, and clearly have no ability to stick to an agenda.

“No wonder everyone wants to boot you out, and God help the animals on your farm if you run the farm like you run the Senate committee.”

Heffernan said he wished the author of the letter had provided their name so he could contact them to discuss the issue.

“Historically, anyone who tells me to go and get knotted, which is what this is doing, I usually ring them — I’ve never sent an email in my life — and say, ‘I’m so happy you’ve had the opportunity to go and tell me to get knotted. Now what can I do to help'” he said at Estimates.

“We recognise that the system now, which has changed in recent months, isn’t working in the way in which it was intended, so we are working towards trying to fix that, and we regret that there were a lot of people who’d come from a long way who didn’t get to be witnesses because there was no control on the time.

“I’m asking people on this committee to bear that in mind.”

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The Mandarin

The Mandarin staff journalists.