Setka, the Victorian secretary of the CFMMEU, has been suspended from the Labor Party and will likely be expelled, but he’s not standing down from his union role.
He has come under fire for reportedly telling a union meeting Ms Batty’s advocacy had led to men having fewer rights, comments he says are “fabricated”.
“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.
“Why should I step down? For something that is totally inaccurate and false and just a lie?”
Setka brushed off the prospect of being expelled from the Labor Party at the behest of leader Anthony Albanese, but says it’s the work of “dirty politics”.
“I answer to my members and my members only,” he said.
“I don’t answer to the ALP. They don’t pay my wages.”
Walters was at times emotional during the couple’s press conference, saying the public scrutiny of her husband had put the family in a “dark, dark place”
“It is very hard to watch the ‘Get John Setka’ campaign,” she said.
“I see John Setka get up every morning and go to work at 6.30 to represent his members. I see him come home at 7.00 at night, having spent all day representing his members.
“I can’t describe how hard it is to watch.”
ACTU secretary Sally McManus has cut short an overseas trip to return to Melbourne to deal with the crisis.
McManus has said Setka’s reported comments were “appalling and totally unacceptable” and he should resign if they are verified.
Setka will have a chance to defend himself when Albanese’s expulsion motion goes to the ALP’s national executive on July 5.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Setka should have resigned a long time ago.
“They can root out one Labor thug in the union movement, but there’s plenty more where John Setka came from,” he said.
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