Industry superfund AustralianSuper has delayed plans to sign up members to online news website, The New Daily, on an opt-out basis, as it waits on advice from the information commissioner.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authrority and the Australian Information Commissioner are investigating the way in which data is shared between The New Daily and shareholder, AustralianSuper.
AustralianSuper chief executive Ian Silk told a parliamentary economics committee hearing last week that plans to subscribe its members (unless they opted-out) were now on hold until the superfund received the all clear from the commissioner.
“In relation to the recent discussion about the provision of data … Australian Super has not provided any information to The New Daily at this time,” Mr Silk said.
“What we have done is communicated with a number of AustralianSuper members and said that we were proposing to do that, enabling members to advise us at that time on receipt of that communication if they didn’t wish that to occur. But subsequent to that communication with members, advising of that intention to provide material to The New Daily, APRA and the OAIC … have communicated with us. Our current plan is to await advice from the OAIC before we execute.“
Members’ email addresses and first names would be provided to The New Daily under the current plan. “The motivation of AustralianSuper is two fold. One is to enhance the financial literacy of AustralianSuper members and secondly to extract member engagement benefits from it,” he said, adding there were discussions about how to extend the benefits existing members receive to a broader cohort of members.
“On a survey of New Daily readers 80 per cent say that they have improved understanding of financial matters on the strength of reading The New Daily. I should note that the finance section of The New Daily is the second most-read section of The New Daily after the general news section.”
Both Mr Silk and CBUS boss Justin Arter took on notice a question about whether or not investing directly in The New Daily would be in the best interest of members. Superannuation funds are legally required to invest members’ money with their best interests in mind. The New Daily is owned by Industry Super Holdings, which is controlled by super funds such as AustralianSuper, Cbus, Hostplus and HESTA.
The New Daily is published by Motion Publishing, a subsidiary company of Solstice Media (which is chaired by Eric Beecher). Money to fund journalism at The New Daily is received through advertising and funding from Industry Super Holdings.