AMP appoints climate change denier as Chairman

David Murray

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has seen heads roll at AMP, with both the Chair Catherine Brenner and CEO Craig Meller leaving the financial services company.

But in news today it was announced that former CEO of Commonwealth Bank and Future Fund Chair David Murray AO was to become the new Chair at AMP.

David Murray’s Wikipedia profile describes him as having “particular views on climate change”. By particular, it presumably means comments like these, in a Lateline interview from October 2013:

The remarks on Lateline (full interview here) were described as a “serious slur” by the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society. That may be so, but they fit Murray’s pattern of downplaying or dismissing the importance of climate change. Here he is in an interview from 2011 with the Australian Financial Review:

Murray: “[Carbon dioxide] has got nothing to do with pollution.”

Colleen Ryan (INTERVIEWER): What do you mean?

Murray: “Well carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, it is colourless and odourless. It is not a pollutant.”

Colleen Ryan: Yes, but it is still bad for greenhouse gases?

Murray: “No it isn’t. It is a tiny proportion of greenhouse gases.”

In 2012, Murray had this to say about the carbon tax introduced by the Gillard Government:

“If you want me to tell you my view, it is the worst piece of economic reform I have ever seen in my life in Australia.”

Take action!

Climate risk management? 

Murray’s appointment comes after a week where shareholders and large investors pushed harder than ever before for corporate action on climate change. Resolutions at the annual general meetings of Rio Tinto, QBE and Santos garnered support from investors with billions of dollars invested in the companies. There are increasing expectations on companies, especially those in the financial sector, to be disclosing and managing climate change risks. Geoff Summerhayes, Executive Board Member of the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA), said in a 2017 speech that:

“Some climate risks are distinctly ‘financial’ in nature. Many of these risks are foreseeable, material and actionable now.”

The view from APRA looks decidedly different from the incoming Chairman of AMP, a company that APRA regulates. Having just seen two heads roll over scandals from the Financial Services Sector Royal Commission, it seems incredible to replace the rot from days passed with personnel that would appear unwilling to even consider the importance of managing climate change risk. Market Forces is therefore calling on institutional investors to reject the appointment of David Murray to as Chairman of AMP.