At a hearing of the House economics committee on Thursday, AustralianSuper chief executive Ian Silk faced another round of questions from Liberal MP Tim Wilson on the super giant’s motivations behind the deal with the publication, which is owned by Industry Super Holdings and has attracted the ire of Liberal backbenchers for its criticisms of government super policy.
“The motivation from Australian Super is twofold – one is to enhance the financial literacy of members, and secondly to extract member engagement benefits from it,” Mr Silk said.
“From a survey of New Daily readers, 80 per cent say they have an improved understanding of financial matters on the strength of reading the New Daily. The finance section is the second most read section after the news section.
“This is not my personal view, these are the express views of Australian Super members.”
Mr Silk said he “couldn’t be sure of who initiated discussions” around AustralianSuper subscribing its members to The New Daily on an opt-out basis, as the fund had originally proposed to do in early July.
“We would have spoken with New Daily about means by which we could extend the benefits that current recipients of New Daily receive to a broader cohort of fund members. If we do that, we would send only the member’s email address and first name to the New Daily,” he said.
However, Mr Silk said the subscription deal had been paused following an “initial inquiry” from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner that had commenced in June, looking into whether the agreement – which also covered several other industry funds – had constituted a breach of privacy.
“In relation to the provision of data, we have not provided any information to the New Daily at this time,” he said.
“What we’ve done is communicated with a number of members and said we were proposing to [subscribe them], enabling members to advise us upon receipt of that communication that they didn’t wish that to occur.
“Subsequent to that communication with members, APRA and the OAIC have communicated with us, so our current plan is to await advice from OAIC before we execute.”