Australia

CFMEU boss John Setka won't resign, says Rosie Batty reports are 'fabricated'

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Victorian union official John Setka is reportedly refusing to stand down from his CFMEU role as he accuses the ALP of 'dirty politics' for moving to expel him.

Union leader John Setka says he's a victim of "false allegations" being made for political gain after coming under fire for comments he reportedly made about anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty.

Addressing the media for the first time since the reports - which he called "completely false" - the Victorian secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) said there was no reason for him to resign.

"Everyone at that meeting knows that what has been reported is not what I said and the member who leaked these false allegations, for nothing more than political gain, should be the one who hangs their head in shame," he said in Melbourne on Wednesday alongside his wife Emma Walters. 

"I represent CFMEU members. They employ me. They're my bosses. I'm elected to represent them. If people want to expel me out of the Labor Party over false accusations and over things that I've never said, well, then, so be it."

John Setka
CFMEU Secretary John Setka and his wife Emma Walters speak to the media during a press conference on Wednesday.
AAP

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has backed Mr Setka, and demanded Anthony Albanese retracted his remarks and attempt to have the CFMEU secretary expelled from the Labor Party because of the reported comments. 

"Today we’ve learned they were based off of a complete fabrication and Albanese needs to withdraw,” ETU Victoria secretary Troy Gray said. 

"Mr Albanese should know better than to be led down the garden path by the enemies of John Setka."

A day earlier, Mr Albanese said he had written to the Party's national executive requesting that Mr Setka be expelled at their next meeting in July.

"John Setka does not belong in our party because of the views that he holds," he said.

Mr Setka on Wednesday reiterated that he has not said anything negative about Ms Batty.

"About comments made at the national executive meeting, what was reported in relationship to Rosie Batty, is completely false," he said. 

"I have always been a huge supporter of Rosie Batty and admired her tireless work she has done and what she has achieved."

He said the comments in question were in "regards to law" and did not involve Ms Batty. 

Shortly before the announcement, Former Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said Mr Setka's alleged comments were "completely unacceptable" and "don't represent Labor values", but said the matter of his role within the CFMEU was one for the union to decide. 

"As a union member myself, I would be very unhappy with any representative of my union making comments like this about domestic violence," she said. 

"What we can do as the Labor Party is make it clear that his comments are unacceptable to the Labor Party, they don't accord with Labor values and that he'll be removed from the Labor Party."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday agreed that Mr Setka should resign from his position and said he "should have a long time ago".

The Australian Council of Trade Unions released a statement on Sunday condemning family and domestic violence. 

"Australian unions will continue to advocate for workers’ rights to a safe home, community and workplace and take a stand against family and domestic violence," it read.

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese will move to expel high-profile union official John Setka from the ALP.
Labor Leader Anthony Albanese will move to expel high-profile union official John Setka from the ALP.
AAP

ACTU secretary Sally McManus has reportedly cut short an overseas trip to return to Melbourne to deal with the crisis.

Rosie Batty was awarded an Order of Australia medal on Monday for her "distinguished service to the community as a campaigner and advocate for the prevention of family violence".

Ms Batty, who was also named Australian of the Year in 2015, became a prominent family violence campaigner after her 11-year-old son was murdered by his father in 2014.

Speaking to ABC's Radio National, Ms Batty said the Labor Party could not "stand by and make excuses or allowances or ignore" Mr Setka's alleged statements. 

Mr Setka will have a chance to defend himself when Mr Albanese's expulsion motion goes to the ALP's national executive in early July.

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