After all, alongside Delaney in that initial intake at LaTrobe University back in the mid-1960s had been an economics student named Garry Weaven, who by the Bicentennial was the assistant secretary of the ACTU. Following the Australian Industrial Relations Commission’s go-ahead for single employers and unions to agree on superannuation payments in lieu of cash wage rises, Weaven had by then already convinced many big players in the building, metal and transport industries to sign on. In those early ‘cottage industry’ days of super, funds did not need to employ many people directly. So it was not that unusual for MTAA to start performing secretarial duties for the super fund which the members of the Association had created. It was helped by Ken Cruise, the former company secretary of Fortis Australia, whose business here had its origins as the insurance division of Victoria’s Automobile Chamber of Commerce.
For the first few years, Cruise maintained all MTAA Super’s secretariat records in his garage at Forster in NSW. Fortis at the time was operating both as the administrator and investment manager for MTAA Super. But by 1996, MTAA Super had crept above $400 million under management and it was time to get serious. Access Economics was appointed as asset consultant, separate mandates were awarded with external managers, and Paul Watson was engaged as a specialist superannuation officer – but crucially, he was employed by MTAA Ltd, rather than MTAA Super’s trustee company. In a January 2010 letter to the directors of MTAA Ltd, Delaney recapped why an association with “two central tasks” – policy production on behalf of the motor trades, and conduct/management of the internal affairs of MTAA Super – was in everyone’s best interests. “It has operated those tasks in a detailed, integrated way relying upon and enjoying the synergies arising from common personnel, services and equipment for both tasks which are similar in that both are essentially secretarial services to two like boards.”
For the next 10 years after 1996, MTAA Ltd would continue to hire new staff and accommodate them, including the 14 business development managers who worked for the super fund and were based throughout the capital cities. The fund’s auditor until two years ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers, would provide an annual estimate of the salary costs of those working for the fund, plus the associated costs of providing the secretariat. MTAA Super’s trustee would then write a cheque to MTAA Ltd for that amount. By the mid-1990s, Delaney was firmly part of the Canberra establishment – for a time he’d even owned the iconic Lobby Restaurant, set among the rose gardens of Old Parliament House. His local contacts were used to MTAA Super’s great advantage when the Government began selling off its buildings in the late 1990s. The fund ended up with the RG Casey Building a street over from MTAA House, leased longterm by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, and the AGSO Building in Symonston, both for bargain prices.