Industry veteran David Smith, a director of HESTA and former AIST president, passed away unexpectedly last Friday.
HESTA chief executive Debbie Blakey said Smith, who was a general secretary of Australian Services Union, will be remembered by his colleagues as an inspirational leader and an advocate for working Australians.
“The HESTA team was profoundly shocked and saddened to learn of David’s sudden passing,” said Blakey. “We feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to work together to help deliver better outcomes for our members.”
“David brought to the HESTA Board a deep knowledge of the community services sector and experience drawn from more than 25 years passionately defending and advancing the rights of working Australians. He also had a broad knowledge and understanding of the superannuation industry, he will be deeply missed by all of us at HESTA.”
HESTA chair Nicola Roxon added that Smith who had also served on the fund’s investment committee, had made a very strong contribution. He served as the fund’s nominee to the board of infrastructure fund, Utilities of Australia Pty Ltd and as a director at the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST).
At AIST he was also a member of the finance, risk and audit committee and chair of the remuneration committee. His contribution to the profit-to-member industry funds sector dates back to 2007, where he also served as a fund director of Energy Super.
“David’s passing is deeply saddening to all of his colleagues on the HESTA Board who greatly valued his wise and insightful counsel and guidance, which will be truly missed,” Roxon said.
“David was widely recognised both in the superannuation industry and in the union movement as a passionate representative of working people. David shared a deep sense of social justice and commitment to working towards a fairer and more equitable Australia.”
AIST president Catherine Bolger said Smith was a great contributor, not just to AIST, but the superannuation industry more broadly.
“The AIST board and management will always be grateful for his sage advice, his considered suggestions and his commitment to delivering the best outcomes for super fund members,” Bolger said. “He was always thinking about ways to improve super for low income workers, women, and other vulnerable groups and to steer AIST’s advocacy in that direction.”
AIST head Eva Scheerlinck said Smith was forward-thinking and helped champion AIST’s governance code and shape the boards of profit-to-member super funds as they are today.
“David was a staunch supporter of profit-to-member superannuation and the equal representation governance model. Everything decision he made was made through the lens of putting members’ interests first,” said Scheerlinck.
Smith also played a key role in AIST’s Super Springboard program in 2013, nominating a number of talented ASU women for the program.
“He was a champion of gender equity on boards and proactively promoted and developed women into key roles,” Scheerlinck added.