AustralianSuper has said it would hand over members’ emails and first names if an arrangement with The New Daily were to go ahead but that was subject to advice.
During a Parliamentary hearing, AustralianSuper was asked by Liberal’s Julian Simmonds about what member information had been handed over to The New Daily.
AustralianSuper chief executive, Ian Silk, said currently the superannuation fund had not provided any information but that it had communicated to a number of its members that the fund was proposing to do so and that this enabled members to advise the fund if they did not want that to occur.
“Subsequent to that communication with members advising of that intention to provide material to The New Daily, APRA [The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority] and OAIC [Office of the Australian Information Commissioner] have communicated with us and our current plan is to wait advice from OAIC before we execute,” he said.
“The motivation from AustralianSuper is to one to enhance financial literacy of AustralianSuper members and secondly to extract member engagement benefits from it. We would have been speaking to The New Daily about means to extend benefits that current recipients of The New Daily receive to a broader cohort of the fund’s members.”
Simmonds then asked: “Let’s say the arrangement continues, and you intend to continue with the arrange, what data would you be handing over?”
“We would hand The New Daily the member’s email and their first name,” Silk replied.
Silk said he did not have a deadline on when this would commence as the fund was waiting for the OIAC’s response.
Liberal’s Tim Wilson later asked whether AustralianSuper believed it was acceptable to “hand over private information of members to an entity which you can’t tell me is in the best financial interests of members to invest in?”
“I need to repeat two things – AustralianSuper believes the provision of The New Daily to members achieves two things. It enhances financial literacy as evidence by views expressed by recipients by The New Daily.
“It does aid in member engagement and member engagement plays to growing size of funds so we can use size and scale of fund to the benefit of the fund’s members. There is a direct financial benefit to members in that sense.”
Wilson then pointed to the top stories on the publication’s website which were on topics relating to the Olympics, the Sydney COVID-19 lockdown, Taliban fighters, the Suez Canal, and grizzly bear in Montana.
“For a site that apparently is about financial interests, frankly it doesn’t seem that interested,” Wilson said.