A recent Australian Conservation Foundation effort has seen around 200 QSuper and Sunsuper members sign a letter urging the funds to install higher climate risk disclosure and to divest from thermal coal.
The members had teamed up as the two funds have crept closer towards merging and forming a $182 billion giant.
But Keith Pitt, Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia has disputed the validity of the campaign, commenting suggestions that the major funds should abandon coal will deprive hundreds of thousands of members of a good investment option.
“The coal industry employs over 60 thousand Australians and generates billions for the state and national economies and is forecast to continue doing so for decades to come,” the minister said.
“Several major resource companies have plans for new coal mines and expansion to existing ones and Australian superannuation funds should be free to support, and invest in, a legitimate and productive Australian industry.”
He has also accused ACF of using a minority of the funds’ members to push its activist agenda.
“The Conservation Foundation says around 200 members have written to the funds calling on them to stop investing in coal which is about 0.01 per cent of QSuper and Sunsuper’s combined membership,” Minister Pitt said.
“To deprive over 1.88 million other members of solid investment returns on the whim of a relative few and the ideological motives of the Conservation Council is farcical.”
The Parliament’s joint standing committee of trade and investment growth is conducting an inquiry into the financial sector’s treatment of Australian export industries, at the request of Mr Pitt.
The inquiry, launched in February, will examine the investment and lending decisions of banks and superannuation funds.
“It is only fair that banks, superannuation companies and other financial institutions that are withdrawing investment in sections of the resources sector, explain to all those women and men why their jobs are not worth supporting,” Minister Pitt said at the time.
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].