The chief executive of one of Australia’s largest industry funds has refused calls to take a pay cut for the 2020 financial year, despite the fund recording a negative return and its membership base being one of the hardest affected by COVID-related restrictions.
Facing questions from the House economics committee on Thursday, Hostplus chief executive David Elia said while it was likely the fund’s executive bonus levels would be affected by the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, there were no plans to reduce executive pay for the 2020 financial year.
“We are going through that process as we speak – the Hostplus remuneration committee is due to meet next week,” Mr Elia told the committee.
“There [are] two components to executive and investment staff salaries, there are a fixed salary and a variable component. There’s no doubt those variable elements may be impacted as a consequence of the performance of the fund.”
Hostplus’ balanced option returned -1.74 per cent for the year to June 2020, and the fund had paid out more than $2.8 billion to members affected by COVID-related hardship as of early September, making it the fourth-highest-paying fund in the government’s early release scheme.
However, Mr Elia waved away suggestions of taking a cut to his fixed remuneration despite a large part of the fund’s hospitality industry member base being out of work, saying that if anything staff at the fund had worked harder than usual over the COVID period.
“I think I’d adopt the Prime Minister’s comments in that we’re getting on with the job, we’re incredibly busy – in fact we’ve never been busier,” he said.
“Our job is to continue to deliver great outcomes for our 1.3 million members and we’re focused on that task. We’ve been working overtime in order to assist the government’s program.”