Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese has moved to expel high-profile union boss John Setka from the party over reported comments criticising anti-domestic violence advocate Rosie Batty.
Mr Albanese today said he would seek the expulsion of Mr Setka, the Victorian secretary of the powerful Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU), for “bringing the party into disrepute”.
Mr Setka is under fire after he reportedly told a union meeting last week Ms Batty’s advocacy had meant men had fewer rights.
“I don’t want him in the party I lead. It’s that simple,” Mr Albanese said in Perth today.
Mr Albanese said he had also requested the national executive of the party suspend Mr Setka’s membership today.
“Trade unions play an important role in our society,” the Labor leader said.
“My concern here is that John Setka is someone who is, in my view, unacceptable to stay as a member of the Australian Labor Party.
That’s what I have control over and I’m exercising that control here today.”
Mr Setka claims he was “taken out of context” over his comments regarding Ms Batty.
Mr Setka is also facing unrelated criminal charges over the alleged harassment of a woman last year with threatening phone calls and text messages.
In the messages, Mr Setka is alleged to have called the woman a “treacherous Aussie f—– c—” and a “weak f—– piece of s—“.
Mr Setka indicated to a Melbourne court last month he intended to plead guilty to the charges.
Mr Setka is receiving full pay and entitlements while on personal leave, The Age reports.
Outgoing senior Labor senator Doug Cameron earlier demanded Mr Setka resign from his position.
Senator Cameron, a former trade unionist, said he strongly supported the “mindful militant” behaviour of Mr Setka’s CFMMEU.
“(But) there is nothing mindful about the alleged behaviour of John Setka. He should put the movement and members first by resigning,” Senator Cameron tweeted.
Labor Senator Penny Wong said Mr Setka should “consider his position”.
“I thought his comments about Ms Batty were completely inappropriate and, as I said, his comments are not in step with the values of the labour movement,” Senator Wong told ABC radio this morning.
As a democratically elected official, forcefully removing Mr Setka from his union position would require a lengthy internal process.