SUBJECT: Resignation of John Setka.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks for joining me. One of my first acts as Leader of the Labor Party was to take action to suspend John Setka from membership of the Australian Labor Party. I did that because I thought over a long period of time through his actions, he demonstrated values that were not consistent with the values which the Australian Labor Party holds dear. One of those values is respect for women. The fact that he’s been convicted of breaching a family violence order and the fact that he was also convicted and pleaded guilty to harassment indicates that that’s the case. But there’s also been a range of activity which are in breach of both the Victorian rules of the ALP and the values of the Australian Labor Party.
As people would be aware, John Setka contested that action in the courts and lost. Today John Setka has withdrawn his appeal to that decision and John Setka has now been removed as a member of the Australian Labor Party. This is something that I think is important. It’s been important that we demonstrate that Labor’s values as a party are greater than any individual and that we’re prepared to stand up for those values. I think that this is a good outcome for the Australian Labor Party that allows us to draw the line under these issues and to confront a Government that attacks workers’ rights, that doesn’t stand up for working values. Just today we had to move amendments to its Big Stick legislation to ensure that workers entitlements were protected.
Labor will continue to stand up for the rights of working people and we will not allow ourselves to be distracted from that task by the actions of any individual. Mr Setka’s removal as a member of the Australian Labor Party removes that opportunity for the Government in seeking to attack workers, to single out any one individual and use that as an excuse, and allows us to ensure that we conduct ourselves on the merits.
JOURNALIST: Will you take the same attitude to other members, other union leaders, who breach those values?
ALBANESE: Look, I’ve been very consistent. And I think no one can argue that I didn’t act as soon as possible once I became the Leader of the Australian Labor Party I want this party to be a party which shows our values in all of our actions, which stands up for working people, that defends the rights of working people to form trade unions and to bargain collectively and to therefore, deal with the power imbalance that’s there between individual workers and employers. The fact is that trade unions have an important role to play in our democracy and in civil society. I will stand up for the rights of trade unions, but I’ll also lead a Labor Party. That’s about our values, our values in all of its forms.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, was there a National Exec today on this or…
ALBANESE: No, Mr Setka withdrew his appeal and therefore accepted the decision of the courts. It was going to be a very clear decision by the National Executive that was scheduled for Friday. Of course, his membership of the party was suspended. Today, he withdrew that appeal and he submitted his resignation to the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party. It’s a very satisfactory result in the interests of the Labor Party and, might I say, in the interest of trade union people everywhere. Thanks very much.