UniSuper opens up to the public
6 July 2021
This week, UniSuper has opened its doors to the general public. Having previously only been available to workers (and their families) in the higher education and research sectors, the $100 billion fund has dropped this restriction and will now accept new members from all industries and sectors. This means a few different things.
Firstly, UniSuper will now have to actively work to get new members on board. This is the first time that UniSuper has had to advertise its products to prospective members, having always been guaranteed a customer base across Australian universities. UniSuper will now need to compete for members in the open marketplace amongst a variety of other industry and retail funds.
Secondly, UniSuper will also have to actively work to retain current members. New superannuation legislation (the Treasury Laws Amendment [Your Superannuation, Your Choice] Act 2020) came into effect from 1 January this year which prevents employers from forcing their employees into the employer’s fund of choice through EBAs (enterprise bargaining agreements). With some university EBAs up for renegotiation this year, many university employees will soon have more freedom to choose their super fund.
Actions you can take
Get your colleagues and friends on board. Having nearly 13,000 voices behind this campaign has achieved so much, but just imagine what 50,000 voices would sound like. Share this campaign with your colleagues, your friends, and on social media. The bigger the power base, the harder it will be for UniSuper to ignore its members.
Call UniSuper and voice your concerns about their fossil fuel investments. In his June 2021 investment update, John Pearce (the Chief Investment Officer of UniSuper) tells members to get their friends to give UniSuper a call if they are interested in knowing more about the fund, as he believes that UniSuper has a “very compelling story to tell.” Take up John’s offer and do so. Give UniSuper a call and tell them that you won’t be recruiting your friends until UniSuper divests from dirty fossil fuels.
Let UniSuper know you mean business. UniSuper may have a variety of ‘socially responsible’ investment options, but that still leaves billions of dollars of members’ money invested in dirty fossil fuels. This isn’t good enough. Use the form on this page to tell UniSuper what you will do in response to the fund’s failure to dump all dirty fossil fuel companies.
This page contains factual information that is not intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product.
We’ve come a long way, but there is more to do
To date, nearly 13,000 UniSuper members have joined the UniSuper DIVEST movement, calling on their fund to divest from dirty fossil fuels. So far, we’ve seen UniSuper dump investments in a handful of coal mining companies, including Whitehaven Coal and New Hope, which is a great step in the right direction.
However, the fund continues to invest billions of dollars in fossil fuel companies, including major Australian gas and oil producers Woodside, Santos and Oil Search, diversified fossil fuel producers like BHP, and oil and gas pipeline companies APA and Enbridge.
Market Forces’ research shows all of these companies are attempting to expand the scale of the fossil fuel sector, at a time when scientists—and even the traditionally conservative International Energy Agency (IEA)—are telling us there is no room for new coal, oil or gas projects if we are to have a fighting chance of meeting the Paris Agreement’s climate goals.
UniSuper has committed to achieve net zero emissions in its investment portfolio by 2050. The IEA has now confirmed that a net zero by 2050 pathway means “there is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply”.
Yet UniSuper continues to invest members’ money in companies that are pursuing major new fossil fuel developments, which also pose unacceptable local environmental and social threats. These include Woodside and BHP’s massive Scarborough gas project, Santos’ highly controversial Narrabri gas project, and Canadian company Enbridge’s proposed new pipeline that would enable the expansion of one of the dirtiest industries on the planet: tar sand oil production.
UniSuper continues to invest members’ money in all of the companies pursuing these destructive projects. That’s why we need your help to build the power of this campaign and force UniSuper to ditch these dirty companies. Take action now.
About this campaign
UniSuper DIVEST is a project of Market Forces, supported by UniSuper members across Australia. The campaign is designed to support signatories to take ownership of the campaign and organise to share it widely among fellow UniSuper members. Together we will take this campaign into the media and right to the doors of UniSuper.
UniSuper DIVEST recognises and supports the important work of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) in pushing for climate action, including motions passed in October 2019 declaring a climate emergency and calling on UniSuper to divest from fossil fuels. This campaign supports these efforts and seeks to demonstrate widespread support for fossil fuel divestment among UniSuper members.
Market Forces’ research has identified the big Australian companies that are undermining climate action by expanding the scale of the fossil fuel industry and whose future is tied to worsening the climate crisis. These are the companies the open letter calls on UniSuper to divest from.
UniSuper should not be investing any of its members’ retirement savings in these climate-wrecking companies. While the fund offers investment options that exclude some fossil fuel investments, these options represent a tiny proportion of assets under management and require members to actively seek out and switch into them. Climate action is effectively quarantined to those niche options and the members that are able to find their way into them. Meanwhile UniSuper continues to invest billions of dollars in fossil fuels through mainstream investment options. UniSuper, as a whole, is still overwhelmingly backing companies that are driving us towards runaway climate change.
This campaign provides a platform for members to demand UniSuper divests from fossil fuel companies that are undermining the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Market Forces is an affiliate project of Friends of the Earth Australia. Learn more at marketforces.org.au/about