Logging on: Renee Heath back into the pressure cooker

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The Liberal Party’s Renee Heath isn’t shying away from the support she has gained from conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers who make up the rival “freedom” political movement.

After hitting the headlines for attending a self-declared “cooker” event in Rowville on Friday night, CBD can report the upper house member for Eastern Victoria then spoke at a rally held by Freedom Party candidate and former Neighbours actor Damien Richardson.

Victorian MP Renee Heath after a Liberal Party meeting in May.Credit: Eddie Jim

Heath stuck to the ostensible cause in her speech in Traralgon on Monday afternoon – the closure of the native logging industry and its impact on eastern Victoria.

But before welcoming her to the microphone, host Richardson warmed up the crowd with some racist conspiracies.

Saving the native logging, he reckoned, was a chance to fight back against “globalists” without scaring off potential allies with “all these ideas of the New World Order”.

“I’ll tell you who it’s a real war on – it’s a war on white working-class men,” he said to applause.

“That’s who they want to destroy because they know, ultimately, they are the boys with the power … to stand up to the process of deracinating who we are as Australians.”

If that word is new to you, Merriam-Webster tells us “deracinate” is to “remove the racial or ethnic characteristics or influences” from a place.

Richardson said: “God forbid you talk about it because they call you a racist. Well, call me it. I’m beyond caring.”

A flyer for an event hosted by Damien Richardson which claimed Renee Heath would attend as a “guest speaker”. She was later removed.

He also riffed about one day working out exactly what antisemitic conspiracist David Icke “meant by lizards” in his theory about a group of shape-shifting reptiles who secretly control the world. It’s been widely interpreted by the likes of the Anti-Defamation Commission that Icke is talking about Jews.

Richardson said he would go “much further” into such topics at an upcoming event which had been scheduled to take place on Thursday night in Sale, but had recently been postponed until September.

An early flyer for that event obtained by CBD said it would be “featuring guest speaker Renee Heath”, but her name was scrubbed out of later versions circulated online.

The venue, the Cobb & Co Stables, is owned by the City Builders Church, where Renee’s dad Brian Heath is the head pastor. As The Age has previously detailed, the Pentecostal hardliners have attempted to infiltrate conservative politics, though the Heaths are not known to endorse any of Richardson’s views.

Renee told CBD that she attended the rally on Monday “to talk about the closure of the native timber industry and that’s what I did”.

“I don’t endorse any of the views that were said before by other people that I didn’t know,” she said. She would not be drawn on how she ended up on the flyer for Richard’s event in Sale.

Joyce’s failure to fly

Fresh from a day hobnobbing with the political elite at Parliament House in Canberra, the last inconvenience that departing Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce would have wanted was a delayed early morning flight out of the nation’s chilly capital the next day.

Yet that’s precisely what he got when he was forced to wait around for his plane to take off from Canberra Airport on Thursday.

Alan Joyce met with politicians in Canberra on Wednesday.Credit: John Shakespeare

Our CBD spies tell us that Joyce arrived at Canberra Airport in time for his 7.40am flight; however, the aircraft did not take off until 9.11am.

Just as well Joyce touched down shortly after 10am, several hours before air traffic controllers closed two of Sydney Airport’s three runways due to strong winds. Qantas declined to comment on the delayed flight.

Joyce’s tour of Canberra’s corridors of power was likely one of his last before he leaves the national carrier in November after more than 15 years at the helm.

He’s set to be replaced by the airline’s chief financial officer, Vanessa Hudson.

Earlier this year, it emerged that Qantas had boycotted distribution of The Australian Financial Review, hiding newspapers from its lounges in an escalating dispute over the coverage of the airline by the masthead’s columnist Joe Aston.

Aston has taken aim at Joyce’s leadership, the airline’s fleet and customer service repeatedly after Joyce claimed he was not a public figure.

The Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age are owned by Nine.

Our secret squirrel confirmed Joyce was not flicking through the pages of The Fin to pass time on his trip back to the harbour city.

Ambulance Vic

A long-overdue reset at Ambulance Victoria isn’t coming cheaply, with Premier Daniel Andrews defending a decision to spend half a million dollars on consultants to implement a cultural overhaul.

Daniel Andrews says “cultural change sometimes has some costs associated with it”.Credit: Wayne Taylor

The consultants were called in after The Age blew the lid on shockingly widespread discrimination and sexual harassment within the ambulance service in 2020.

A subsequent human rights commission inquiry found that around half of employees experienced bullying or discrimination and women were not accepted at senior levels because the organisation favoured “macho” and “alpha male” personalities.

Andrews said on Thursday that “cultural change sometimes has some costs associated with it” which were an investment in “the safest, most professional, most inclusive” ambulance service possible.

Some way to go there though, it seems, after the paramedics union’s secretary Danny Hill was seething this week when senior management cancelled employee awards nights at local RSLs and town halls.

He was further enraged that the manager attended the launch of a new “values-based” policy at the 5-star Hotel Chadstone. Ambulance Victoria chief executive Jane Miller defended the event on Thursday and said it cost less than $10,000.

“I think it was a very, very successful day with our senior leadership team,” she said. “What we need to keep focused on is creating a culture that addresses what was identified in that report by the equal opportunities commission.”

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