The Australian Labor Party post their election loss is still directionless, void of identity and its members are still at each other’s throats. This week it’s been apparent more than ever with Labor MPs now at war with their trade union comrades.
The cause of this latest round of turmoil and conflict has been the alleged conduct and language and notorious CFMEU Victorian Secretary John Setka.
He has long had a reputation as a controversial and aggressive trade union official, also not afraid to break the law having been fined and criminally convicted 40 times, including two stints in jail. Last year he had blackmail charges against him dropped by the Victorian DPP.
But it is his alleged treatment and language towards women that it is in the spotlight now as he is a member of a trade union movement that vows to fight for gender equality and respect for women.
Setka is currently facing harassment charges via a carriage service as it is alleged he sent 45 text messages to a woman calling her a “c–t”, “drunken moron” and a “weak f—n piece of s–t”. His lawyers have indicated he will plead guilty to two of the charges when the matter returns to court.
On Boxing Day last year police arrested Setka at his family home after reports of the argument with the case referred to Victoria Police’s Westgate Family Violence Investigation Unit. Setka at the time blamed the incident on “the ongoing political and ideological attacks on myself as a union leader”.
But what appears to have tipped the Labor leadership over the edge, as up until now they have defended Setka’s union record, is comments he has alleged to have made about anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty at a union meeting last week that her advocacy work has led to men having fewer rights.
New Labor leader Anthony Albanese has called for Setka’s expulsion from the party over the comments “I don’t want him in our party. It’s that simple”. Even the pro-union Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews wants Setka cut loose calling Setka’s recent conduct “disgraceful” and his comments about Rosy Batty “cannot be defended in any context”.
But Setka hit back at a press conference he held yesterday with his wife Emma Walters stating the comments attributed to him about Rosie Batty were “completely false”. Both Setka and Walters said they were taking steps to repair their marriage and Setka’s recent legal troubles had seen them go “to hell and back”.
While Labor leaders may now finally want Setka gone his union comrades are standing by him. Christy Cain the national president of the Maritime Union who was present at the meeting where the alleged comments were made said it was Mr Albanese who should consider resigning “It is just rubbish what is being said in the press. I think that Mr Albanese should take a good look at himself”.
ACTU Secretary Sally McManus who had previously said she would not be commenting on Setka’s case before the courts has released a statement following the reported Rosie Batty comments “I have heard what Mr Setka had to say today. I have sought a meeting with him tomorrow to discuss these matters. I will have more to say following this meeting.”
The Setka Saga has seen the Coalition and right-wing commentators attempted to wedge Labor and left claiming that they cannot be claim to have the interests of women at the core if they continue to defend Setka’s behavior.
What has also been highlighted by this saga is once again leftist men despite being self-proclaimed feminists have been exposed as engaging in or turning a blind eye the actual disrespecting of women.
The irony of this saga is that Setka’s comments about Rosie Batty were fair and the least offensive aspect of his alleged conduct, yet it is those comments, not his actions which have landed him in this current controversy. This again shows that for the left they consider words more powerful than actions.
It is going to be fascinating to see how this showdown between Labor and its union allies plays out. For years they have been in lock step together with countless trade union officials going on to become Labor MPs and leaders.
For the Coalition it is another post-election gift from Labor, it gives them ammunition to show that Labor excuses union thuggery and excess and is a continued danger to Australian economic growth.