Industry fund smoking gun or simple expression of concern?

Government politicians are pointing to a possible red flag in terms of industry superannuation funds seeking to influence public perceptions of the Victorian Labor Government over its COVID-19 lockdown. 

The politicians are pointing to answers to questions on notice from Australia’s largest industry superannuation fund, AustralianSuper which confirmed that the fund’s chief executive, Ian Silk, spoke to a businessman who had reportedly been critical of the length of the lockdown, CSL chair, Dr Brian McNamee. 

However, AustralianSuper has made clear that Silk only spoke to McNamee after the newspaper reports appeared about the issue, not before. 

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In a series of questions on notice directed at industry superannuation funds, the chairman of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Tim Wilson pointed to a newspaper report suggesting that McNamee and other lockdown critics had been “pressured” by “union-aligned industry superannuation fund managers”. 

Wilson asked in questions to the industry funds whether, “in the context of confronting, bullying or intimidatory workplace cultures, please advise:  

a) Has the chair of your fund been in contact through any medium with Dr McNamee or his office since 5 August 2020, and if so please advise the name of the person who made contact and the nature of any communications; 

b) Have board members of your fund been in contact through any medium with Dr McNamee or his office since 5 August 2020, and if so please advise the name(s) of the person(s) who made contact and the nature of any communications; and 

c) Has the CEO of your fund been in contact through any medium with Dr McNamee or his office since 5 August, 2020, and if so please advise the name of the person who made contact and the nature of any communications.  

AustralianSuper answered “yes” to part C of the question and said that its chief executive had been in contact, adding “Mr Silk spoke with Dr McNamee about the media report after it had appeared in the media”. 




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