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Australians' retirement savings will not be the pawns in industrial disputes

"Trustee directors of all superannuation funds have very serious duties and responsibilities to act in the interests of fund members. We are acutely conscious of our responsibilities to invest members’ money to contribute to their well-being in their retirement," Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today. (Ai Group is one of two shareholder trustees of AustralianSuper).

"We invest members' money to generate strong returns over the long-term. Our investment timeframe and the sorts of assets we invest in are aligned with the expected longevity of our members. Over the sorts of time horizons over which we are investing, a strong focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks is entirely appropriate. As a consequence we incorporate ESG considerations into our approach to investing as part of our efforts to generate strong returns for members over the long-term.

"At the same time, we are not in the business of delivering on activist agendas that are separate from our clear obligations to deliver strong returns to our members. This would not only place us in breach of our formal obligations – it would be the wrong thing to do. So we do not pursue political, environmental, industrial or other causes that are separate from the interests of our members.

"Of course, we – like all institutional investors - are subject to lobbying from those that would like to see us supporting particular environmental, industrial or even political agendas. But we have a clear and unambiguous obligation to act in our members’ interests and we have a duty to see through that lobbying for what it is and to stick to our course in delivering the best possible standards of living for our members in their retirement.

"The retirement savings of millions of Australians can not, must not and will not be allowed to be the pawns in industrial disputes. To even suggest this is possible only serves to undermine confidence in what is a highly successful model that puts members first and not the interests of a few," Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347