Wednesday, 21 June 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Employment, Senator Cash. Can the minister update the Senate on the very concerning reports relating to threats against public servants from the Australian Building and Construction Commission?
I thank Senator Bushby for this very important question. As has been widely reported, Mr John Setka, the secretary of the construction division of the CFMEU Victoria, yesterday seriously threatened inspectors of the ABCC, including female inspectors, and their families. That is right, Mr President: women and children. I call on all senators in this chamber, regardless of your union affiliation, to condemn these threats and Mr Setka's intimidating behaviour. Mr Setka's threats, which were made yesterday at a public rally, included:
Then we've got these ABCC inspectors.
Let me give a dire warning to the ABCC inspectors: be careful what you do … You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to expose them all.
We will lobby their neighbourhoods. We will tell them who lives in that house. What he does for a living, or she.
I believe that a whole new low was reached yesterday, even by the standards of Mr Setka—who, let's face it, is well-known for his violent and menacing behaviour. Senators may be interested to know—
Honourable senators interjecting—
Order, on both sides, particularly on my right.
Senator Scullion interjecting—
Senator Jacinta Collins interjecting—
Order! Senator Collins.
Senator Canavan interjecting—
Senator Jacinta Collins interjecting—
Order! Senator Canavan and Senator Collins. Senator Cash, you have the call.
A whole new low was reached even by Mr Setka's standards yesterday, when he targeted the kids of the ABCC inspectors, threatening to go to their local footy clubs, to go to their local shopping centres. He said of their parents:
They will not be able to show their face anywhere … we expose all these ABCC inspectors.
Imagine this, colleagues. Some of you are parents. Imagine you are at the footy match with your kids on a Saturday, cheering them on on the sidelines, and guess who turns up? It is a violent thug like John Setka, who is there to heavy your family. That is a disgrace.
Can all senators just show some respect across the chamber. Senator Collins, I would ask you to withdraw that comment if you did say that. Senator Brandis, if you did say that about Senator Collins I would like you to withdraw it also.
I can advise the Senate that, given the extremely serious nature of the threats made yesterday by Mr Setka, I have today referred these threats to the Australian Federal Police and the Victoria Police. Despite the behaviour of those opposite, it is time for all people—for all members and senators—to say, 'Enough is enough.' Thuggish behaviour like this no matter where it occurs should never, ever be on display and should be condemned outright. Those opposite know better than anybody that Mr Setka holds an extremely powerful position within the CFMEU. Quite frankly, after yesterday's behaviour, he has shown yet again that he is not a fit and proper person to hold such a position. I call on the Australian Labor Party to not only condemn his disgusting behaviour but, quite frankly, if they are dinkum, sever political ties with the CFMEU and Mr Setka. (Time expired)
Again, we can all stand united and say, 'Enough is enough.' Threatening public officials and having the audacity to do so at a public rally in front of hundreds of people needs to be condemned. But I do not think those on the other side are prepared to put their money where their mouths are, because we know Mr Setka was actually a very special guest at the election night party of Mr Bill Shorten. We also know he is a regular feature at Labor Party conferences. We also know that his union, the CFMEU, has spent millions after millions in support of the Labor Party.
Again, despite the weasel words from those opposite today, if they were dinkum—