John Setka is never far from controversy. For years, the Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union’s Victoria branch has been in and out of the courts, and the headlines. He has a history of assault charges and intimidatory behaviour. He is reportedly close to alleged Melbourne gangland personalities straight out of Underbelly. And to conservatives, his brash, plain-spoken manner and seniority in a notoriously “militant” union make him a figure of revulsion.
But this time, Setka seems to have set the hatchet on himself. Last week, The Age reported that Setka had told a meeting of the union’s national executive that anti-family violence campaigner Rosie Batty’s activist worker was leading to men having fewer rights. Meanwhile, Setka has plead guilty to harassment charges, over messages he sent to a woman. Despite facing court, the union continues to pay Setka’s salary.