He said while “justice must be done and be seen to be done”, there was room for “mercy” in the state’s legal system and that there were “two sides to this story”.
Father Bob, whose charitable foundation operates a food van emblazoned with the CFMEU logo – donated by the union before it merged with the Maritime Union of Australia – said the question of whether Mr Setka continued in his role should be left to members.
“If the team or body corporate says he should go, then he should go.”
CFMMEU national construction secretary Michael O’Connor declined to comment when asked if rank and file Victorian branch members would have an opportunity to vote on their leader’s future.
His brother Brendan O’Connor – Labor’s industrial relations spokesman – did not respond to a request for comment.
Both the ACTU and Mt Setka’s Victorian branch of the CFMMEU are signatories to a joint submission to the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s National Inquiry into Workplace Sexual Harassment, which states: “Everyone deserves to be safe at work and in their community”.
ACTU Secretary Sally McManus again refused to comment on Tuesday. A spokesman for the organisation said in a statement: “We understand this matter is still before the courts”.
The chair of fellow signatory Gender Equity Victoria, Kit McMahon, said while she could not comment on Mr Setka’s case, harassment was part of a broader problem of disrespect for women that could culminate in acts of violence and that the culture needed to evolve.
Melbourne University labour and discrimination law academic Beth Gaze – who is also a signatory – said an act of harassment should not automatically be “a complete, total block on somebody’s career” and depended on the circumstances, while also declining to comment on the specific case.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews defended his refusal to comment on Mr Setka’s position on Tuesday, saying the state government’s “absolute resolve, commitment and action” on preventing violence against women was unquestionable.
“Our record on family violence prevention, changing attitudes and therefore changing outcomes for women and their children is second to none,” Mr Andrews told Jon Faine on ABC radio.
He said the murder of 25-year-old Melbourne woman Courtney Herron, who body was found in Parkville’s Royal Park on Saturday, was a tragic reminder that “we still have a long way to go when it comes to keeping women and children safe, and changing the attitudes of men.”
With Clay Lucas
Dana is health and industrial relations reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.