Australia

'It's an outright lie': Setka responds to calls for his expulsion

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The Labor membership of Victorian union official John Setka is likely to be ripped up after he criticised anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty.

CFMEU boss John Setka has spoken out after it was revealed Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese would move to expel him from the Australian Labor Party.

Mr Albanese said comments Mr Setka made about anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty, were "completely unacceptable" and had undermined the labour movement. 

But Mr Setka told The New Daily on Tuesday afternoon that people were "making up lies" about what he had said. 

“Every time I see Rosie Batty I want to give her a hug,” he told the online publication.  

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

“I would rather be called corrupt. It’s not even an exaggeration of what I said. It’s an outright lie." 

Mr Albanese is confident Labor's national executive will unanimously support his decision when it next meets on 5 July. 

"I don't want him in the party I lead. It's that simple," Mr Albanese told reporters in Perth on Tuesday.

Mr Setka described the incident as "dirty politics". 

“I’ve got people portraying me as a Neanderthal," he said, as reported by The New Daily

“This is dirty politics and this wrong. I’ve got the utmost respect for Rosie Batty. It’s sickening to me. If Albo wants to expel me for that? Please.”

His wife Emma Walters said the ordeal had been "taken completely out of context". 

"He was making a reflective remark about the law,” she said.

Union boss John Setka is under fire over his comments on Rosie Batty.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Mr Setka should have resigned a long time ago.

"The CFMEU is one of the most litigated against and charged unions in the country - their charge sheet is longer than your arm - and John Setka is just one of many," Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

Mr Setka, the Victorian secretary of the CFMEU, claims he was "taken out of context" after reportedly telling a union meeting that Ms Batty's advocacy had led to men having fewer rights.

The Victorian Trades Hall Council said it condemned all forms of gendered violence.

"We believe the vital work being done by Rosie Batty and other survivors of family violence isn't taking away anything from anyone, except those who choose to perpetuate family violence," the council said in a statement.

"Prejudice and discrimination, including misogyny, have no place in our movement."

Outgoing senior Labor senator Doug Cameron was among the first to demand Mr Setka resign.

Senator Cameron, a former trade unionist, said he strongly supported the "mindful militant" behaviour of the CFMEU.

"(But) there is nothing mindful about the alleged behaviour of John Setka. He should put the movement and members first by resigning," Senator Cameron said.

ALP Senator Doug Cameron.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus called on Mr Setka to apologise about his comments about Ms Batty, calling the reported comments "appalling and unacceptable".

"They do not reflect our values or the work that unions do to campaign against family and domestic violence and should be immediately withdrawn and apologised for," she told SBS News in a statement.

“Rosie’s courage and work has improved Australia for the better by making important progress toward the goal that our movement shares of ending family and domestic violence.”

Domestic violence advocate Rosie Batty.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he supports Mr Albanese's move.

"The comments made about her (Ms Batty) by Mr Setka are disgraceful and his refusal to apologise for them is appalling," Mr Andrews said in a statement.

"They cannot be defended in any context."

Mr Andrews ignored Liberal Party calls to take action against Mr Setka last month when the union boss indicated he would plead guilty to two criminal charges following an incident at a Melbourne home.

He faces a charge of breaching a court order, along with another charge, details of which cannot be revealed for legal reasons.

Mr Albanese stressed his decision to seek Mr Setka's expulsion is not linked to his court case.

Mr Setka is expected to return to court on 26 June to officially answer the charges.

The Liberals also condemned him last year for likening the federal government to the Hitler regime and for posting a picture of his children holding a sign saying 'Go get f*#*ed' with the caption "Leave our dads alone and go catch the real criminals you cowards".

He later deleted the tweet.

Last year prosecutors withdrew charges that Mr Setka and his CFMEU state deputy Shaun Reardon blackmailed two managers of concrete company Boral.

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