News National John Setka feud threatens to reignite MP bullying mystery

John Setka feud threatens to reignite MP bullying mystery

John Setka (left) and Anthony Albanese are at loggerheads over a plan to expel Mr Setka from Labor. Photo: AAP
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Anthony Albanese’s war with Victorian unions over John Setka threatens to reignite the mystery of the federal MP accused of causing “psychological injury” to multiple ex-staffers.

Parliament has already heard evidence that compensation was paid to four staffers who worked for the MP. The politician’s identity has not been disclosed. 

The Labor leader’s push to expel the CFMMEU leader from the ALP has prompted the powerful Electrical Trades Union to warn it will audit MPs about any “skeletons in their closet” if they continue the pursuit of Mr Setka, who is also facing criminal charges over abusive text messages. 

“People just need to pull their horns in and let the courts do their job. Let it run its full journey. But it’s the hypocrisy of using domestic violence as a political tool,” ETU secretary Troy Gray said. 

The CFMMEU’s national construction branch has offered its “full support” for the democratically elected Mr Setka to remain in the job in defiance of ACTU secretary Sally McManus’ call for him to step down. 

But ALP sources claim Labor Senator Gavin Marshall’s recent pursuit of a mystery federal MP at the centre of workers’ compensation claims for multiple allegations of bullying could now face further scrutiny.  Senator Marshall’s term expires on July 1. 

There is no suggestion that Mr Gray was specifically referring to the matter, but Labor MPs believe the matter could now be reignited after his warning. 

Senator Gavin Marshall has raised concerns about a federal MP. Photo: AAP

There are also claims that the former Labor leader Bill Shorten’s office was aware of Senator Marshall’s concerns and made enquires to try and establish whether the MP in question was a Labor MP.

Mr Marshall’s pursuit of the bullying allegations in Senate estimates raised eyebrows among MPs who believed he was fishing for evidence about one of his ALP colleagues.

“You’re aware that four of those Comcare claims were attributed to a single member of Parliament? I want to talk about that Member of Parliament now. Are you following me?,” Senator Marshall asked during Senate estimates in February 2019.

“So I now want to talk about that Member of Parliament who’s had four Comcare claims accepted against them,” he said. 

“So a new employee comes along, and they come to work for a person that has a history of causing psychological injury to their employees. And you’re just happy for them to mosey on in and just hope that they’ll be okay?”

Senator Marshall was ultimately encouraged to abandon the pursuit by the ALP, after he indicated he planned to ask officials during estimates the identity of the mystery MP.

Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm took up the matter shortly before he left Parliament and Senator Marshall was prevailed on to stop asking questions. 

“Who is the Member of Parliament,” Senator Leyonhjelm asked in a question on notice. 

“Comcare is not able to provide this information as identifying the Parliamentarian could compromise the privacy of individual claimants,” a Comcare spokesperson said. 

Any allegations of bullying are embarrassing for the Labor Party because it has pursued with vigour allegations of bullying in the Liberal Party raised by former MP Julia Banks. 

No formal complaint has ever been lodged and Ms Banks has repeatedly declined to provide any specific examples of the bullying she alluded to during the leadership contest. 

Senator Marshall was contacted by The New Daily and declined to comment further on the questions he raised in Senate estimates.