Australian shareholder advocacy group launches retail investor AGM platform

ACCR currently has AGM proposals at Origin Energy and Qantas

Shareholder advocacy group the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), which currently has proposals due to be voted at Origin Energy and Qantas, has developed a new platform to help retail investors at superannuation funds to make themselves heard at companies’ AGMs.

The new platform is called Vote Your Super. It has three parts.

1. The Vote Your Super Form: where people can fill out this form to tell their superfund how would you like them to vote on our upcoming resolutions.

2. Find out More About Your Super: lets users find out how many of Australia’s large super funds have voted on environmental, social and governance (ESG) resolutions in the past.

3. Compare Your Super: enables a comparison of the way these funds as well as ‘the average fund’ consider environmental, social and governance issues.

“We want you, as a super fund member, to use your voice to pressure your superannuation scheme,” the ACCR said. It hopes to extend its research to include more funds in the future.

The ACCR’s two proposals at Origin cover free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and climate change.

The former relates to the company’s plans to develop gas fields in the Northern Territory and the ACCR is asking whether it “has genuinely obtained free, prior and informed consent from traditional owners” the development.

Its second resolution calls on the company to set and publish interim targets aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement.The AGM is on October 17 and the company is resisting the resolutions.

The group’s resolution at Qantas, which goes to the vote on October 26, is calling for a review of the airline’s human rights policies in the light of its role in deportations by the Australian government.

Staying in Australia, what is claimed to be the world’s first legal action to test trustee duties on climate risks has been filed. Law firm Environmental Justice Australia, representing investor Mark McVeigh, has filed a new Federal Court claim against the trustee of A$50bn (€30.1bn) Retail Employees Superannuation Trust (Rest), for breaching its duties on climate risk.

The updated claim alleges Rest’s trustee failed to act with care, skill and diligence when investing for Mark, and failed to act in his best interests, by not properly considering the risks climate change poses to the fund’s investments.

The claim alleges that to satisfy the trustee’s duties, 2m-member REST must seek information from its investment managers about climate risks and comply with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Rest outsources its investments to a large number of asset managers including names like Colonial First State Asset Management, Wellington, MFS, Franklin Templeton, UBS Global Asset Management and BNP Paribas. It’s not a signatory to the PRI though it is a part of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors.