SUBJECT: John Setka.
BEN FORDHAM: Prime Minister Scott Morrison is welcoming a move by Labor to kick a union boss out of the ALP. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says he’ll ask for the CFMEU boss, John Setka, to be removed as a Labor Party member. And this follows allegations that Setka sent a woman 45 abusive texts and called her 25 times in the space of one night, late last year. Let’s go to Anthony Albanese, the Labor Leader who’s just landed in Sydney after travelling from WA. Anthony Albanese, good afternoon.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good afternoon, Ben.
FORDHAM: Have you decided enough is enough with John Setka?
ALBANESE: Quite clearly I think that the views that he has expressed, on a number of occasions, aren’t in touch with what mainstream Australians think. Domestic violence and family violence is a big issue. And there have been comments in the past that he has made that have been inappropriate – that I’ve called out at the time – with regard to speeches that he has given at rallies in Victoria. And I just think that I don’t want him to be a member of a political party that I lead. I don’t think it’s the right thing, because of his membership of the Labor Party, to somehow associate the views that he’s prepared to put forward with that of the great Party that I have the honour and privilege of leading.
FORDHAM: I know you’ve only been leading that Party a short time, but you must acknowledge it has taken the Labor Party some time to deal with this bloke. He has faced more than 60 charges leading to dozens of convictions and fines including for theft, criminal damage and assaulting police.
ALBANESE: Ben, I have been the Leader of the Labor Party for less than two weeks. It is hard to argue that I haven’t been decisive on this issue.
FORDHAM: When the union movement is concerned we know that some Labor leaders find themselves under a bit of pressure when they take action against anyone in the union movement. Are you concerned about getting union bosses offside?
ALBANESE: Ben, what I’m concerned about is leading the Labor Party to victory at the next election. I was elected Leader of the Labor Party without doing any deals with anyone, without having any arrangements. I put myself forward on my merits to lead the Party and that’s what I intend to do. I intend to be a strong leader, I intend to be inclusive and I’m doing that in consulting with colleagues before decisions are made. But this one is one that I will take to the National Executive. He’s been suspended from the Party today, immediately, by the National Executive Committee. And he will have an opportunity to advance his case, as you would expect. But I believe very strongly that a range of views that he’s expressed, clearly put him in the position of actions that are contrary to the reputation and standing of our great Party. That is bigger than any individual, be it me or John Setka or anyone else. The Party is much more important than any individual.
FORDHAM: Good on you for taking a stand and thank you for calling in.
ALBANESE: Thanks, Ben.