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Opposition calls for investigation into industry's pro-Labor ads

THE federal opposition has called on the nation's financial regulator to investigate whether industry superannuation funds have been using retirement savings to provide support for the Gillard government.

THE federal opposition has called on the nation's financial regulator to investigate whether industry superannuation funds have been using retirement savings to provide support for the Gillard government.

The Herald this week reported that a business owned by the 16 industry superannuation funds is planning a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign highlighting investments in clean energy. The campaign has been planned to coincide with the Gillard government's own marketing efforts on the carbon tax.

The $2 million advertising blitz is to be fronted by Industry Funds Management, an asset manager owned by the nation's 16 industry funds. It owns several clean energy companies such as Pacific Hydro, and wind farms.

The Opposition finance spokesman, Andrew Robb, yesterday urged the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to investigate the issue, given that millions of Australian workers have retirement savings tied up with the funds.

Mr Robb said the transparency of industry-linked superannuation funds was often inadequate.

"When you are responsible for the retirement funds of millions of Australians there must be absolutely no suggestion that those funds - directly or indirectly - are being used in any way for political purposes," Mr Robb said yesterday.

"It would grossly undermine the community's confidence in superannuation," he said.

Industry superannuation funds, which have union officials and former politicians on the boards, are widely seen as having close links to the Labor Party.

Together, industry super funds including Australian Super, MTAA Super and CBUS manage nearly $100 billion of workers' retirement savings.

Earlier this month, the 16 industry funds met at Industry Funds Management headquarters for a marketing meeting with Industry Super Network, the lobby arm of the industry funds.

Among matters discussed was a "TV campaign around the same time as the government carbon price ads", a confidential memo of the meeting obtained by The Herald said.

A spokesman for the authority did not return calls last night.


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