Setka slams ‘immoral’ payout to Boral boss

Published: 8 Oct 2020

The $2 million golden handshake paid to outgoing Boral chief executive Mike Kane has been labeled immoral by CFMEU State Secretary John Setka.

Mr Setka said the $2.037m departure gift to the Boral boss - who has waged a witch hunt against the CFMEU - was an affront to hard-working Australians.

“While millions of Australians struggle in COVID times, Mike Kane walks away with a $2 million handshake for a job far from well done,” Mr Setka said.

“It is morally wrong and a slap in the face to all the hard-working Australians who are doing it tough right now.”

Mr Setka said that as well as a scandal-plagued reign at Boral, Mr Kane had pursued a vendetta against him and his deputy, Shaun Reardon.

The witch hunt saw Mr Setka and Mr Reardon falsely accused of blackmail after a coffee meeting with Boral executives Paul Dalton and Peter Head in 2013 to discuss a union dispute.

The charges, which carry a maximum 15-year jail sentence, were sensationally dropped in court in May 2018 after Mr Head admitted the meeting was “calm” and “pleasant”.

Mr Setka said the trumped-up charges had been laid at the urging of Mr Kane at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption and had taken an enormous toll on him and his family.

“This was an ideologically-driven attack on a union and on me personally,” Mr Setka said.

“I was arrested publicly on my way home from a shopping trip with my wife and two young children in the car, despite having offered to attend a police station to assist with any enquiries.

“The excessive force was completely unwarranted and the ongoing trauma to my wife and kids was unforgivable. It has taken an enormous toll on my family.”

Mr Setka, who was detained for 2 hours and 25 minutes after his arrest, and Mr Reardon, who was detained for 3 hours and 23 minutes the same day, have launched Supreme Court action against Boral executives Mr Dalton and Mr Head for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment over the failed blackmail case.

Boral has attempted to thwart the action in the Supreme Court, which has ruled the case is legitimate and should continue.

John Setka’s lawyer, Josh Bornstein, welcomed the decision.

“The criminal legal process was abused to cause maximum damage to John Setka,” Mr Bornstein said. 

“That abuse traumatized John and his family, and the court has accepted that John can proceed with a claim seeking damages for malicious prosecution.

"John’s case will proceed and be determined on its merits.”

Mr Bornstein said the court had also accepted that a malicious prosecution extended beyond “spite and ill will” to include circumstances where the prosecution was pursued for reasons other than the proper application of the law.

“Crucially, the Supreme Court has accepted that a malicious prosecution case is available where it can be shown that criminal charges were laid for an ulterior purpose,” he said.

“In this case, John Setka’s case alleges that two Boral executives gave a false statement to police to ensure charges were laid and that they were motivated by commercial and industrial objectives.”