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John Passant

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June 2019



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



It is time to resign, John Setka

I have been a long-time supporter of the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Maritime and Energy Union or its various earlier incarnations.

I remember joining with BLF members in 1985 and 1986 to fight the Hawke government’s de-registration of the union. In the short term they lost. However, their commitment to class struggle remained and so did the brutal reality of working in the building industry. As a consequence, the union remained alive and does so today, in the form of the construction branch of the CFMMEU.

In these times of class collaboration and surrender by many union leaders, and their Labor Party leaders, it is an absolute necessity to have a fighting union that uses strikes and other action to defend and increase wages, jobs and impose some safety responsibilities on the bosses. The CFMMEU are even prepared occasionally to break bad industrial laws, something Australian Council of Trade Union Secretary Sally McManus has so far only talked about.

It is why the bosses, and their political parties, hate them. It is why we must defend the union. That does not mean we must protect the leadership on all occasions.

Of course the government and the ALP will use this in different ways to divorce themselves from the union, in the case of the ALP, or smash it, in the case of the Coalition government.

Already the Government has signalled it will reintroduce its Ensuring Integrity Bill (or CFMMEU deregistration Bill,) a piece of proposed legislation defeated previously. There was no mention of resurrecting this legislation during the election campaign we just had. The government is trying to use the accusations against John Setka, the elected leader of the Victorian branch of the CFMMEU.

What are those accusations? The latest one is that he denigrated anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty for reducing the freedom of men. Setka calls it lies. Maritime Union leader Christie Cain says Setka’s comments have been taken out of context.  It is possible for something to be taken out of context, and to also be a lie, I guess. For me it seems far too convenient that this accusation comes out at a time when the ALP under fake left leader Anthony Albanese wants to expel Setka from the ALP.

If this was all, then there would be nothing to the attacks on Setka other than the forces of reaction opposing a militant union that keeps alive the idea of class struggle, and sometimes its practice.

It is unfortunately not all.  Setka has said he will plead guilty to charges of harassing a woman and breaching a court order.  If so, he should resign as secretary of the Victorian branch of the CFMMEU.

There are two reasons for doing so. Women make up 46.9 percent of the workforce.  We cannot have a senior union leader who is guilty of crimes against them, as ACTU secretary Sally McManus understands.  On Thursday she called on Setka to resign, in the best interests of the union movement.

There is a second reason. To keep alive the idea and the reality of union militancy in these times of general union and worker passivity, he should resign. Setka has given the class enemy too much ammunition to allow him to continue in the role of the main union leader in Australia prepared to break the law and urge his members to take industrial action.

John Setka, it is time to go.

John Passant is a member of the Canberra Press Gallery. Mainstream and other for profit media should approach him for payment rates if they want to republish this article.



Comment from Johnh Richardson
Time June 15, 2019 at 8:51 am

Hey John.
Setka may or may not be guilty of the allegations made against him, but convicting him on the basis of uninformed, media fuelled public opinion in the face of his strenuous denials is tantamount to running a kangaroo court.
For the likes of egomaniacs like Rudd to call-on him to resign for “the greater good” of the Trade Union/Labor Party movement speaks to a cynical expediency-based approach which places the civil rights & liberties of an individual last when, if the Trade Union/Labor Party is to mean anything, protecting those rights must be paramount.
The attempted public lynching of Setka is a disgrace, all the more-so while an Archbishop of the Catholic Church sits in jail having been convicted of child sex offences, while still clinging to his official office & free of public calls for him to resign.
I am increasingly disgusted with the capacity of Australians to be led by the nose by those with the loudest voices but least respect for the facts, truth or justice.
Just saying …

Comment from Chris Warren
Time June 15, 2019 at 9:49 am

John, you have gone a bit crazy here.

The fact that ” Setka has said he will plead guilty to charges of harassing a woman and breaching a court order.” does not mean that; “… he should resign as secretary of the Victorian branch of the CFMMEU. ”

It is up to the courts to determine punishments and NOT other elements of society to whip up a sea of indignation and add yet more including depriving people of their jobs. If you think this should apply then change the law.

Your assertion that Setka has “given the class enemy too much ammunition ” is far too vague. Developers are using severe laws as ammunition against unions – and then using union fightback to set dogs barking.

Comment from John
Time June 15, 2019 at 11:59 am

He has said he will plead guilty to two charges. Hardly uninformed comment. Do women deserve protection? And what do you say to Sally McManus? Hardly a News Corp beat up when she calls on Setka to resign. Or is it a case of men first, ignore the women? Typical for the unthinking left and its (by and large male) hero worship.

Comment from John
Time June 15, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Only the Courts should determine punishment. What bullshit. Male unionists should stop harassing women. So, esentially you denigrate Sally McManus and her call for Setka to resign. I get it. She is just a woman, eh? That should convince all those women workers to join their union. I stand with Sally.

Comment from John
Time June 15, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Oh, and thanks for your mental health assessment Chris. Typical of Stalinists to doubt the mental health of those they disagree with. I stand with Sally.

Comment from Johnh Richardson
Time June 16, 2019 at 7:39 am

Good Morning John.
Do you think you could configure your comments page so that we can keep track of who is talking to who about what … maybe it’s just me, but I had some trouble following the above thread & almost started an argument over a comment that wasn’t addressed to me.
Hope you don’t mind my suggestion?

Comment from Johnh Richardson
Time June 16, 2019 at 7:55 am

“Only the Courts should determine punishment. What bullshit.” Yes, of course. Let’s wheel-out the Guillotine & the knitting & get-on with the job. Off with the heads of anyone whose voice is not as loud as yours. Why not reintroduce public flogging, remove limbs, bring back branding & a few other delights from the playbook of the Masters of Oppression?
“Male unionists should stop harassing women.” What bullshit. PEOPLE should stop harassing & bullying each other. What does it have to do with gender or occupations … it is a universal principle. I think you should get-out more & meet a few people who have been on the receiving end of the occasional femi-Nazi, most of who seem able to operate with complete impunity?
“So, esentially you denigrate Sally McManus and her call for Setka to resign.” That’s simply dishonest. Of course McManus is entitled to her view, just like we are. But to suggest that holding a view that is different to hers is to “denigrate” her is a cheap shot.
“I get it. She is just a woman, eh?” No, you don’t get it. You fabricate unjustified observations & then use them to make false allegations/accusations. You seem to be a servant of expediency rather than a standard bearer for principle.
“That should convince all those women workers to join their union.” What has that got to do with this discussion?
“I stand with Sally.” So do I on many issues but I disagree with her on this.
By the way “John”, I don’t mean to cause you any offence but I wasn’s sure where your comments were directed. Cheers.

Comment from Chris Warren
Time June 16, 2019 at 9:18 am


There was no denigration of Sally McManus? She has every right to call for the resignation of Setka. Her reasoning was that his actions were damaging the union movement.

All men should stop harrassing women.

Only the courts should determine punishment is not bullshit – this tag better applies to trail-by-capitalist-media.

I never said the media was uninformed??? in fact the media has a role to inform society of questionable capitalists, cops, politicians, bureaucrats, charity workers and unionists.

The fact is that the leak from the executive meeting was fabricated and such may well occur again to manipulate unions.

There is a path for the Left to respond to Setka situations but this is only by having influential links with the working class rank and file. The “cleansing fire” has to come from here.

Should Setka’s relationship with Mick Gatto, and Gatto’s approach to Boral be shown to have sought a bribe or private benefit to either, then this is another factor that should be brought to account.

Both Albanese and McManus said they had consulted union leaders before making statements but it seems not unionists at the actual meeting. Later statements from McManus supported Setka’s statement. No doubt the AWU and Grocon would like to see the fall of Setka.

The missing participant in all this is Michael O’Connor.

We need a strong, class-conscious union movement that is able to clean its own organisation, without being driven into a frenzy by false accusations in the media and without outside vigilantes.

Unionists will always give the class enemy ammunition because there is a class struggle between the two.

The leak, plus some strange silences, presumably shows that there are factions within the CFMMEU willing to use internal means to bear on these issues.

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