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Phillip Spathis

Major Australian superannuation funds have apparently neglected their sustainability commitments by voting down a carbon pricing resolution put to Woodside Petroleum, despite urging from ACSI and The Climate Institue to support the change.

 

I&T News asked five large funds – AustralianSuper, Cbus, the Future Fund, HESTA and UniSuper – how they voted on the Climate Advocacy Fund’s resolution for Woodsde to publish a carbon price assumption report, which struggled to gain 8.5 per cent of shareholders to vote for (5.6 per cent) or abstain (2.9 per cent) at the company’s AGM in late April.

Four funds responded: AustralianSuper, Cbus, the Future Fund and UniSuper. AustralianSuper’s spokesman said the fund published quarterly reports on how it voted at shareholders’ meetings, but the spokesman could not confirm, by I&T News’ deadline, how the fund had voted on the Woodside resoultion.

Cbus supported the shareholder resolution because it “believes organisations have an obligation to be transparent with their shareholders so investors can be confident that these important matters are being considered,” a spokesman said.

A spokesman for the Future Fund said the fund did not disclose votes on individual shareholdings and “that annually the [fund’s] board discloses the extent to which it has exercised its voting rights and, in broad terms, the nature of its voting”.

UniSuper’s spokesperson said “the relevant stakeholders” were not able to be contacted and so could not respond in time for I&T News’ deadline.

At Woodside Petroleum’s AGM on April 20, the company would not table the Climate Advocacy Fund’s first, preferred shareholder resolution asking it to disclose its carbon price assumptions. Instead, Woodside obliged the Climate Advocacy Fund (CAF) to opt for a second type of resolution that would require a change to the company’s constitution. The resolution required a 75 per cent shareholder vote to be passed.

The CAF is a passively managed index fund, managed by Australian Ethical Investment, supported by The Climate Institute, and is open to Australian investors.

Before this AGM, The Climate Institute wrote to the largest 20 Australian super funds, asking them about their voting intentions on the resolution. Just two funds responded – Local Government Super and MTAA Super – and they were the only funds, along with Cbus, that are known to have voted for the resolution.

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