Industry super boss criticises privatisation coverage

Garry Weaven sees a mountain of super contributions and wants to see that money put to productive use.

Garry Weaven sees a mountain of super contributions and wants to see that money put to productive use. Photo: IFM Investors

Garry Weaven, outgoing chair of global institutional fund manager IFM Investors, has criticised national reporting of comments by a senior industry super figure.

The Australian Financial Review reported Thursday that Industry Super Australia chair Peter Collins, who is also retiring, had challenged Labor’s potential future prime minister Bill Shorten to privatise more public assets so that super funds would have more assets to invest in.

“It’s a typical example of the headline not reflecting the story,” Mr Weaven said.

“Australian super funds and IFM Investors and so on, we don’t need to have more infrastructure projects or to have privatisation. That’s not the point.

“The point is that we’ll be very willing partners and collaborators with state and federal governments and indeed the business community for collaborating over projects to fill the infrastructure deficit and to put infrastructure on a sustainable footing for the future.”

The AFR had quoted Mr Collins, a former NSW Liberal opposition leader, as saying: “It’s the challenge to Bill Shorten. The flow of money into industry super funds is at such a rate that the investible products going onto the Australian market just can’t keep up.

peter collins mike pence

Outgoing ISA chair Peter Collins, seen here meeting US Vice President Mike Pence in 2017. Photo: AAP

“Ultimately we will run out of projects to invest in. How close we are to that point depends on the will and timetable that state governments give themselves. If they want to do things slowly under public ownership using taxpayers dollars, then industry super funds will need to look elsewhere.”

The AFR headlined the interview in its print edition as ‘Industry super urges Labor to privatise’.

Mr Weaven is retiring in December after a career that began at the ACTU in the 1980s making the case for compulsory super, before various leading roles in the union-backed industry funds sector.

He said the expected growth in retirement funds managed by the Australian super sector – from $2.7 trillion to an estimated $6 trillion by 2030 – was an “opportunity”.

“It’s an opportunity for partnering with the public sector to build nation-building infrastructure, or indeed to help develop new industries for the future. That’s the way I’d put it.”

Mr Weaven added a call for bipartisanship and an end to the ideological attacks on industry super.

“If you get over this issue of the political divide and the ideological attacks on the super system and on industry funds, then there’s a lot that can be done creatively through collaboration, in terms of infrastructure, social housing, resolving the energy policy crisis and creating whole new industries.

“There’s heaps that can be done collaboratively, while getting great returns for members and, at the same time, great outcomes for the public.”

The New Daily is owned by Industry Super Holdings. Garry Weaven is the outgoing chair of ISH and The New Daily

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