Ian Robertson has resigned as director of the Local Government Super board and issued passing shots at those not pulling their weight in the industry.
His last board meeting takes place on Wednesday and he will be replaced as the Development and Environmental Professionals’ Association’s nominated representative by Joanna Davison, the interim chief executive of FEAL and the former regional managing director of Colonial First State Global Asset Management.
Robertson has been on the board since the fund’s inception in 1997 and has spent the last five years as chair of the investment committee.
He contrasted his activism for environmental, social and governance overlays to equity investing during this time,with some other union representatives elected as trustee directors.
“I have historically been critical of union-appointed directors on other funds for being complacent, indolent, do-nothing seat warmers. I’ve never understood why people who for a living will close down a construction site, will pull members out on strike, will generally be bold and ballsy, [but] when they come to sit as a member of a superannuation board, become little more than obsequious, complacent yes-people.”
He saw Davison as someone who would continue this active role, describing her as a “respected professional” and someone “who always wanted to do a bit more”.
It was a great move by the union, he said, not to hand the position as “some sinecure to a clapped-out retired official or to someone who saw it only as an income stream”.
Davison attends her first board meeting on October 30 and in between then and December a new chair of the investment committee will be chosen.
Robertson expressed pride that it was his report to the board in 2000 that led to the decision to divest from tobacco stocks and to develop a broader approach to responsible investment across the fund.
“Everything that followed, everything that has nurtured and developed our reputation and values, started with this first step,” he says. “This was a time when other funds were doing nothing.”
And he recalled a battle to have the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees develop a relationship with the Climate Institute and the first-ever Asset Owners Disclosure Project during his eight years on their board.
“When Fiona Reynolds as CEO and I recommended this initiative, I could not get a seconder at the board meeting, so conservative were these people and so concerned about the reputations of their own funds if they were forced to disclose things that they didn’t want to disclose.”
Others, also came in for his ire for opposing his pioneering work and denying the science of climate change.
Robertson will now concentrate on his role as a full-time union official.