Director of industry superannuation fund HESTA David Smith was said to pass away “suddenly” on Friday.
Mr Smith served on the fund’s investment committee and he was also the fund’s nominee to the board of infrastructure fund, Utilities of Australia.
Additionally, he was a director at the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) from 2013 where he was a member of the finance, risk and audit committee and chair of the remuneration committee.
He was also national secretary of the Australian Services Union from 2011, having starting his career as a clerk for Queensland Rail.
Under Mr Smith’s leadership, the union was said to deliver the first workplace agreement with provision for domestic violence leave.
At one stage, he was also state treasurer of the Queensland branch of the ALP.
Further, he served as a fund director of Energy Super from 2007 to 2018.
HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey said everyone at the fund was shocked and saddened by the news.
“The HESTA team was profoundly saddened to learn of David’s sudden passing and we want to extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends at this incredibly difficult time,” Ms Blakey said.
“David brought to the HESTA board a deep knowledge of the community services sector and experience drawn from more than 25 years passionately defending and advancing the rights of working Australians. He also had a broad knowledge and understanding of the superannuation industry.
“David was an inspirational leader and advocate for both HESTA and ASU members and we feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to work together to help deliver better outcomes for our members. He will be deeply missed by all of us at HESTA.”
HESTA chair Nicola Roxon said that since joining the board, he had made a very strong contribution.
“David was widely recognised both in the superannuation industry and in the union movement as a passionate representative of working people,” Ms Roxon said.
“David shared a deep sense of social justice and commitment to working towards a fairer and more equitable Australia.”
A statement from ASU national president Paul O’Neill, national vice-president Jennifer Thomas and acting national secretary Robert Potter said Mr Smith was a “powerful and passionate” advocate for universal superannuation and a recognised industry expert.
“David’s belief in universal superannuation underpinned the ASU’s determination to improve super outcomes for women,” the statement read.
“David had all the hallmarks of a natural leader; he looked to the future and was clear-eyed about where he was going, but he had the ability to bring people with him. He was rarely the loudest voice in the room, David’s voice nonetheless carried the most weight.”
Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth.
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio.
You can contact her on [email protected].
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