Weren't John Setka's criminal charges 'inconsistent' with Labor's values?

Weren’t the criminal charges John Setka’s pleading guilty to ‘inconsistent’ with Labor’s values?

John Setka
On Tuesday the opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, called for Victorian union leader John Setka to be expelled from the Labor party, in part, because of disparaging comments he allegedly made about Rosie Batty.

On Wednesday a defiant Setka faced the press and said he would not resign from the party, insisting his comments were taken out of context. Some attendees from the meeting where the comments were reported to have been made have publicly confirmed his account.

But the fact remains that Setka is facing criminal charges, which his lawyer said he will plead guilty to later in June, for harassing a woman last year, and for persistently breaching a court order, over offending earlier this year.

These are not trivial matters and yet Setka was adamant on Wednesday that he will remain the Victorian secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union.

“I’ve been elected by the union members. They are my bosses: If they want me to leave I will step down tomorrow,” he told The New Daily“But I am not going stand down over innuendo and lies people have made up. This is dirty ALP politics.”

Even after it was confirmed that Setka would plead guilty to criminal charges his position in the Labor party was not considered untenable.  It was only reports of his alleged remarks about Rosie Batty that propelled Anthony Albanese to call for his expulsion.

And while there is something deeply, deeply, disturbing about disparaging the work of Rosie Batty, is there not something also disturbing about harassing a woman? About breaching a court order?


Even if Setka’s words were misconstrued about Rosie Batty, as he insists, are the charges laid by police, that he has said he will plead guilty to, misconstrued too?

It’s hard to reconcile that being disparaging towards an anti-violence campaigner is totally inconsistent with the ALP’s values, but pleading guilty to harassing a woman isn’t?

Anthony Albanese has only been Labor’s leader for two weeks but the party is more than just one person. And the charges against John Setka are not just two weeks old. A line could have been drawn earlier.

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