The Kritic

Rest Industry Super

REST Industry SuperSource: REST

MEDIA RELEASE

25 July 2018

$50 billion super fund to face Federal Court over climate change actions

Mark McVeigh, 23, is taking his superannuation fund REST to the Federal Court of Australia, seeking information about what the trustees know about the impact climate change will have on its investments and what they are doing in response to that knowledge.

The Corporations Act says super fund beneficiaries can ask for any information they need to make an informed decision about the management and financial condition of the fund.

This is the first time a super fund member has taken a fund to court over lack of information about climate change risk.

Mark McVeigh, like all working Australians, must contribute money to superannuation, but he is having trouble finding out exactly what is being done to protect his money.

Mark is 23 and has been contributing to REST, the Retail Employees Superannuation Trust, since 2013. He can’t access his super until 2055.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says average global temperatures could increase by 2°C by 2050, the level deemed dangerous to life on earth, if emissions continue to rise.

For Australia that would mean more extreme weather, more frequent and intense droughts, worse bushfires and likely destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.

By 2050, natural disasters in Australia are predicted to cost $39 billion each year.

“I would like to know what REST is doing about climate change and whether my money is being managed properly,” Mark McVeigh said.

“As an individual it can be difficult to make a big impact on limiting climate change. REST is a $50 billion fund. It has a lot of power and influence and it should do the right thing.”

David Barnden, Environmental Justice Australia Principal lawyer, said:

“REST has long-term investments in property and infrastructure, as well as in public companies exposed to climate risks. Super trustees must consider climate risks and protect their members from the significant impacts of climate change.

“This is an important test case for Australia’s $2.6 trillion superannuation industry. Super funds own 25% of the total value of all companies listed on the ASX.

“These funds and the individuals that control them are critical to the economy’s fast and orderly transition under the Paris Agreement.”

The Concise Statement in McVeigh v REST is here

Environmental Justice Australia

Media contact: Josh Meadows, EJA media & communications, 0439 342 992

Gathering by the Murrumbidgee

Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous NationsGathering by the Murrumbidgee

MEDIA RELEASE

19 July 2018

First Nations propose changes to Australia’s Water Act

The Water Act is ‘substantially inconsistent’ with Australia’s commitments to international conventions, a Traditional Owner group will today tell the South Australian Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

The Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN), which represents Traditional Owner organisations across the Murray-Darling Basin, will today give evidence to the Royal Commission.

MLDRIN’s submission to the Royal Commission asserts that the Water Act is inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations under the Biodiversity Convention and the Ramsar Convention, in that the legislation establishes weak procedural standards for Indigenous participation in water resources decision-making and falls short of the ‘robust involvement’ required by the conventions..

‘We are witnessing the real world impacts of excluding First Nations knowledge, cultural and law from water planning,’ said MLDRIN Chair and Nari Nari man Rene Woods.

‘The tragic state of the Baarka (Darling River) is a stark example of what happens when First Nations values, knowledge and interests are marginalised in water policy and legislation.

Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations

‘The Royal Commission represents an important opportunity to air our concerns and present proposals for change to Australia’s national water legislation.

‘The Water Act needs to be reformed to recognise and promote First Nations’ distinctive attachment to and authority relating to waters of the Murray Darling Basin.

‘Governments must be obliged to undertake serious negotiations with First Nations and deliver tangible outcomes.

‘That approach would help deliver river health based on First Nations’ knowledge as well as economic and restorative outcomes for First Nations’ communities,’ Mr Woods said.

‘After decades of advocacy, Basin governments are beginning to acknowledge First Nations’ rights and interests in water,’ said Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Dr Bruce Lindsay.

‘Yet Australia’s Water Act and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan fall far short of international standards of recognising Aboriginal people’s unique connections to waterways.

‘The recognition of First Nations rights and interests in the Commonwealth Water Act is weak and falls short of international best practice.

‘As a wealthy, developed country and self-avowed global leader in water management, Australia can and should do better,’ Dr Lindsay said.

MLDRIN and EJA have collaborated to produce submissions and develop proposed amendments that will align Australian water management with international standards.

Environmental Justice Australia

Media contact: Josh Meadows, EJA media & communications, 0439 342 992