Construction union the CFMEU was playing down concerns for the BUSSQ fund after its chief executive Simon Mather handed in his resignation, instead launching an attack on the sector’s regulator, APRA, claiming it had been debased and was an arm of the Morrison Government.
The criticism follows APRA’s urging for a merger of smaller funds which the union claimed was a part of an ideological agenda.
CFMEU state secretary and BUSSQ director Michael Ravbar said any claims that BUSSQ was somehow not functioning normally was “arrant nonsense”.
However, the three industry representatives on the BUSSQ board, Paul Bidwell, Sonya Beyers and Madeline Dermatossian, walked in January over a deadlock relating to a proposed merger with the Wayne Swan-led CBUS fund.
The three were replaced in February after the union picketed their offices and accused its leadership of “personal ambition and naked self-interest” in its push to destabilise the fund.
Mather had been a long term member of the executive of the fund and was chief information officer before moved into the acting CEO role.
“There is a new board in place at BUSSQ which has already met and is working well together,” Ravbar said.
“There is a selection process underway to find a replacement for the fund’s outgoing CIO, who remains in his role while an orderly transition occurs.
“We are truly excited about the future of the fund, and welcome the fresh ideas and energy that new talent at a senior level will bring.”
The union’s assistant secretary Jade Ingham said there had been relentless pressure to merge the fund which has about 70,000 members.
“BUSSQ is a fund that for nearly four decades has consistently achieved among the best returns in Australia, putting the high-fee retail and bank funds to shame, yet is virtually under siege from the supposed regulator,” Ingham said.
“The demands and legal costs placed on board and management by APRA’s incessant harassment campaign are simply unconscionable and run completely counter to APRA’s charter of ensuring stability in the financial system.”
It now appears the merger with CBUS is dead, or at least deferred.
Master Builders and APRA declined to comment on the ordeal.
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