The Victorian opposition has accused Premier Daniel Andrews of calling out violence against women only when it suits him, after he repeatedly refused to condemn CFMEU state secretary John Setka, who last week indicated he would plead guilty to harassing a woman.
Mr Andrews claimed he could not comment on Mr Setka’s case as it remains before the courts, before referring to the alleged murder on the weekend of homeless Melbourne woman Courtney Herron — whose accused killer’s case is also before the courts — to highlight his government’s “second to none” record in changing attitudes towards women.
Opposition spokeswoman for women Emma Kealy said Mr Andrews’ claim that “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept … seems to apply to everyone but him and his union mates”.
“Daniel Andrews is picking and choosing when to call out violence against women — he’s either calling it out or he isn’t,” Ms Kealy said.
A charge of recklessly causing serious injury was among 30 against Mr Setka that were withdrawn last week, as he indicated he would plead guilty to one count of using a carriage service to harass over an incident allegedly earlier this year. The Australian has chosen not to name the woman.
Asked if he had called on Mr Setka to stand down from his CFMEU role, the Premier said he had not spoken with him.
“He has got a court matter that is afoot, and you know, we had a few games being played in the parliament yesterday where our opponents were talking about calling things out,” he told ABC radio. “It is not my practice, nor will it ever be, to cut across active matters that are in court.”
He made reference to Ms Herron’s alleged murder, for which homeless man Henry Hammond is facing charges, arguing his government’s record on family violence prevention and changing attitudes towards violence against women is “second to none”.
Mr Setka returned to work at the CFMEU last week. Both the CFMEU and the ACTU have so far refused to comment.