Lambie and Setka split image. Picture: Supplied
Lambie and Setka split image. Picture: Supplied

‘Setka must go’: Lambie’s warning to unions

JACQUI Lambie has issued a blunt warning to union bosses she will back new laws to deregister unions if CFMMEU boss John Setka doesn't step down.

The Tasmanian senator reportedly told ACTU president Michele O'Neil yesterday she would vote for the controversial Ensuring Integrity Bill, which will enable the government to deregister law-breaking unions, if Mr Setka remains at the head of the Victorian branch of the militant construction union.

The Australian Financial Review reports Ms Lambie told Ms O'Neil: "You got a problem with the IR bill and it's called John Setka."

Jacqui Lambie has issued a blunt warning to union bosses she will back new laws to deregister unions if CFMMEU boss John Setka doesn’t step down. Picture: Kym Smith
Jacqui Lambie has issued a blunt warning to union bosses she will back new laws to deregister unions if CFMMEU boss John Setka doesn’t step down. Picture: Kym Smith

It adds to pressure on Mr Setka and other senior CFMMEU bosses who have backed his decision to remain in the job despite Opposition leader Anthony Albanese's public bid to expel him from the Labor Party.

Senator Lambie's vote will be crucial as the Opposition attempts to block the laws and the government hopes to pass it through the Senate before Parliament rises for the winter break.

Mr Morrison will need at least four crossbenchers to back the bill for it to pass.

Centre Alliance and One Nation will be the other crucial crossbench votes.

"It's no secret I have concerns about the behaviour of certain members of the trade union movement," Ms Lambie told the AFR.

CFMMEU Victorian secretary John Sekta. Picture: AAP
CFMMEU Victorian secretary John Sekta. Picture: AAP

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers told ABC radio today Labor was taking "decisive action" to remove Mr Setka.

He accused the Coalition of attacking unions to distract the public from "their failures on the economy".

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus has publicly called for Mr Setka to step down over his behaviour but the move has prompted other union leaders to question her position.

Attorney-General Christian Porter yesterday said it was the "gold standard in hypocrisy" for Mr Albanese to try to expel Mr Setka from Labor but then not support a bill which would allow a court to consider whether he was a fit and proper person to be a union official.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s attempt to expel Mr Setka from the ALP but not support a bill which would allow a court to consider his position amounted to hypocrisy. Picture: AAP
Attorney-General Christian Porter said Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s attempt to expel Mr Setka from the ALP but not support a bill which would allow a court to consider his position amounted to hypocrisy. Picture: AAP

"Anthony Albanese is saying that his behaviour, John Setka, is too bad for him to be a member of the Labor Party but wants to oppose a bill that would allow the exact same question to be asked by a court as to whether or not he's a fit and proper person to be in the union movement," Mr Porter told ABC radio.

"The point is there has never been ... an organisation in the union movement more unlawful than the CFMEU ... and a rational government under the present laws is hamstrung in having even an application brought to deregister it," he said.