Home > New analysis: Australia’s biggest super funds fractured on fossil gas
Media Release

New analysis: Australia’s biggest super funds fractured on fossil gas

18 October 2022


Tuesday 18 October: New analysis by Market Forces reveals some of Australia’s biggest super funds have been selling millions of shares in oil and gas giants Woodside and Santos, while others are investing heavily in these climate-wrecking companies.

The Market Forces study finds 11 out of the 14 super funds analysed own less shares in Santos in their default investment options at 30 June 2022 than at 31 December 2021, according to the funds’ latest holdings disclosures.

In their default investment options, AustralianSuper has dumped 41.3 per cent of its Santos shares, while UniSuper has sold 26.8 per cent and Hesta has unloaded 20.5 per cent. These three funds have collectively sold more than 14.1 million Santos shares in their default options.

The Market Forces analysis estimates UniSuper’s Balanced option has sold nearly three-quarters of its Woodside shares and HESTA’s Balanced Growth option has sold more than one-fifth of its Woodside shares, taking into account the shares these funds received as BHP shareholders through Woodside’s merger with BHP’s petroleum business at the start of June.

Brett Morgan, Superannuation Funds Campaigner, Market Forces said:

“This massive fire-sale of Santos and Woodside shares by some of the biggest super funds in the country is great news and a tribute to members who are demanding an end to investment in companies expanding oil and gas.

“Despite its chest-beating about engagement with Woodside and Santos on climate action, HESTA appears to be quietly selling down shares in these companies in its default option.

“Is HESTA selling shares in response to members’ concerns, or finally recognising years of engagement with Woodside and Santos has failed to shift these companies’ fossil fuel expansion plans, which undermine our chances of a stable climate future?”

Members have been reporting concerns to Market Forces about UniSuper’s fossil fuel exposure cap, which allows the fund to more than double its investments in oil and gas companies including Woodside and Santos.

The analysis finds despite having previously sold most of its Woodside shares, Australia’s biggest super fund AustralianSuper has increased its stake in Woodside in its Balanced option by more than 14 times. Colonial First State’s (CFS) FirstChoice Wholesale Growth option has increased its stake by more than six times.

Hostplus’ Balanced option is the only option in Market Forces’ study to have significantly increased its stake in Santos, with a 16.1 per cent jump in shares.

“Why has AustralianSuper changed its tune and bought millions of shares in climate pariah Woodside?

“AustralianSuper’s move flies in the face of its commitment to net zero by 2050 and the Paris climate goals.

“It’s unacceptable to many members that Hostplus is endorsing Santos’ climate-wrecking oil and gas expansion plans, wildly contradicting the fund’s recent commitment to the target of net zero emissions by 2050.”

Note to editors:

AustralianSuper and CFS have committed to net zero portfolio emissions by 2050.

CFS also has an interim target to reduce emissions 30 per cent by 2030 and claims its targets align the fund with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Hostplus announced its commitment to a net zero by 2050 portfolio emissions reduction target in March this year.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Antony Balmain, +61-423-253-477, [email protected]