Call for inquiry into clean energy ad blitz
THE federal opposition has stepped up calls for the finance regulator to investigate whether a planned advertising blitz by industry-backed superannuation funds could be considered politically motivated.
THE federal opposition has stepped up calls for the finance regulator to investigate whether a planned advertising blitz by industry-backed superannuation funds could be considered politically motivated.BusinessDay last month reported that a business owned by the 16 industry superannuation funds is planning a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign highlighting investments in clean energy.It has been planned to coincide with the Gillard government's advertising campaign on the carbon tax.The opposition finance spokesman, Andrew Robb, has written to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority chairman, John Laker, arguing that such a campaign could erode confidence in the nation's superannuation system.The $2 million advertising blitz is to be fronted by Industry Funds Management, an asset manager that is owned by the nation's 16 industry superannuation funds. IFM manages almost $30 billion in retirement savings on behalf of 5 million members.It owns a number of clean energy companies, such as Pacific Hydro, and wind farms."Any suggestions that industry funds or their subsidiaries are planning advertising campaigns that could be deemed to be politically motivated without the approval of members serves only to erode public confidence in the system," Mr Robb said in the letter, obtained by BusinessDay."Unlike individual holdings in listed companies where shareholders have the option to simply sell shares in entities which act in ways that do not meet their approval or performance expectations, the members of industry superannuation funds held in trust do not have that same flexibility."Industry Super Network, the lobby arm of the industry super funds, has defended the proposed campaign, saying the reference to a "clean energy future" is in the context of the full range of IFM infrastructure assets. This includes airports, ports, railway stations, wind farms and hydro projects.An APRA spokesman declined to comment on Mr Robb's letter, saying the authority had a policy of not discussing operational matters.