The ACTU and its affiliated unions played a foundational role in winning superannuation as an industrial right for all working people, and with employers established and continue to be custodians of workers’ retirement savings through industry superannuation funds. Living well after work is fundamental to the wellbeing of working people and attaining dignity and independence in retirement for all working people is a core goal of the union movement.
The Australian Superannuation system is a $3 trillion dollar industry that today represents a significant part of the Australian economy. Assets have now climbed to 175 per cent of GDP in 2020, with over $670 billion invested internationally. Globally, institutional pension fund assets in the 22 largest markets continued to rise in 2020 despite the pandemic, up by 11 per cent to US$52.5 trillion ($67.3 trillion) with Australia currently ranking 5th in the world. A key challenge and opportunity for superannuation funds is the effective stewardship of these assets and a proactive approach to ESG considerations. To derive value for members, funds will need to continue to adjust to an evolving global market for investments.
Australian superannuation funds must therefore embrace the challenges and opportunities this presents to export markets and ensure that they are able to meet ongoing changes to prudential standards and practices. The impact of not adjusting to the shifting sentiment of the global economy, one that is moving quickly towards a zero-emissions environment, is to put Australian jobs and retirements savings of all workers at risk.