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How Labor and the unions will share control of a $200 billion financial behemoth

Business

The board of the planned fund that will evolve from the merger of QSuper and Sunsuper will have a very Labor influence.

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Five members of the board of the as-yet-unnamed super fund that will have about $200 billion in assets will come from the union movement.

Another two will be from the ranks of the State Government and one will be former Labor Treasurer Andrew Fraser.

The unions won’t control it. The new fund has a 13-member board with an independent chair.

The union membership stems from QSuper, which until 2017 was a fund limited to Queensland public servants. The two government representatives are there because of the state’s position as an employer of a large number of members while Fraser got his seat because he is the current chair of Sunsuper.

And there is some credibility to their background. QSuper was named as the 2021 fund of the year by SuperRatings and Lonsec, the third time in six years the fund has been recognised. Sunsuper last year took out Chant West’s super fund of the year award for the third time in four years.

Unions also have a heavy role in industry funds which are generally considered to be better performers than most for-profit funds.

Because of the union influence, the issue has become political, but the Hayne Royal Commission into financial services said fund boards should be based on skills and capabilities rather than having mandated independence.

The QSuper annual report shows that trustees (directors) were paid up to $80,000 a year in fees.

QCU general secretary Michael Clifford, who will have a seat on the new board, said unions existed for the benefit of members and that included protecting their superannuation.

He said the model of employer and union representatives had worked well.

Clifford said his director fees went back into the QCU but he could not comment on fees for other union leaders.

A spokesman for QSuper said the board of 13 had been chosen to achieve the best balance of skills, knowledge, experience, diversity and connection to our members.

The board will include representatives from the Queensland Teachers Union, the Queensland Nurses Union, the Queensland Police Union, the Australian Workers Union and the Queensland Council of Unions.

“Five of the 13 are officials of trade unions which make up a substantial part of both funds’ membership. The board is also composed of independent and employer representatives, one of whom is Andrew Fraser, currently Chair of Sunsuper and formerly a Queensland Treasurer and Deputy Premier,” QSuper said.

“As trustees, they are legally obliged to make decisions based on the best interests of the membership.”

The Queensland Council of Unions has been asked for comment.

The board of the merged fund will be:

Don Luke (Chair): QSuper Chair since January 2020, previously Queensland Investment Corporation Chair (2014-2019) and Sunsuper CEO (1997-2007).

Michael Clifford: Sunsuper Director since February 2016, previously Intrust Super director (February 2013-December 2015), currently General Secretary Queensland

Council of Unions.

Bruce Cowley: QSuper Trustee since December 2019, previously chair of law firm Minter Ellison where he specialised in corporate governance.

Mary-Anne Curtis: QSuper Trustee since July 2018, currently Queensland Government Associate Director-General, Seniors and Disability Services.

Andrew Fraser: Sunsuper Director since 2015 and Chair since 2018. Former Queensland Treasurer and currently Trustee Director of Australian Superannuation Funds Association (ASFA) and other corporate boards and for-purpose organisations.

Mark Goodey: Sunsuper Director since January 2020 and currently Chief Finance Officer of the Australian Workers Union.

Elizabeth Hallett: Director of Sunsuper since 2014, formerly Partner of international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.

Shayne Maxwell: QSuper Trustee since June 2018 and Assistant Secretary of Queensland Police Union.

Sandra McCullagh: QSuper Trustee since February 2019 and member of the Investor Group of Climate Change and the Queensland Government Climate Advisory Council.

Beth Mohle: QSuper Trustee since December 2013 and Secretary of the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union.

Kate Ruttiman: QSuper Trustee since February 2019, General Secretary of the Queensland Teachers Union and Honorary President of the Queensland Council Unions.

Michael Traill, AM: Director of Sunsuper since September 2015, founder of Social Ventures Australia, Chair of the Federal Government Social Impact Investing Taskforce. Independent trustee.

Georgina Williams: Sunsuper Director since July 2018 and formerly Executive of National Australia Bank in both Australia and the United Kingdom. Independent trustee.

 

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