Below, a sample letter UniSuper members can use to send to UniSuper urging them to divest from the mandatory detention industry. Please use this letter in full or adapt it. A personalised letter will be taken more seriously than a simple copy. However, the details in this letter can be used to bolster your own argument.
You can also refer to the UniSuper Transfield Divestment Brochure
My name is XXX and I am a Unisuper member. I am writing to call upon you to divest from investment in the mandatory detention industry through the companies Transfield and Decmil. I am gravely concerned that my retirement savings which are invested in UniSuper, are contributing to profits raised from the imprisonment of innocent asylum seekers in direct violation of international law.
I believe that UniSuper has attempted to allay members’ fears by claiming that UniSuper has a role in promoting responsible business practices in the companies in which it invests. However, I note that indices used to make such assessments such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index are not ‘sector neutral’ as UniSuper has claimed. On the contrary, the DJSI makes specific reference to industries such as the ‘alcohol, gambling, tobacco, armaments, cluster bombs, landmines, firearms, nuclear and/or adult entertainment’ industries as bases for which to exclude companies from investment. The DJSI does not include mandatory detention because, being a US-based measure, it cannot make reference to this Australian particularity.
The second claim that you have made in correspondence with concerned members is that UniSuper has a fiduciary duty to act in its members’ best financial interests. However, with regards Transfield, despite its lucrative $2.1 billion contract to run offshore detention on Manus Island and Nauru, Transfield Services’ shareprice has fallen by 23% since it signed its first contract to manage detention centres on 5 February 2013 to August 2014. Indeed, Transfield’s shareprice has underperformed relative to all significant indices since it began managing detention centres.
This being said, even if Transfield were a highly performant company, there is no ethical basis on which to justify the use of Unisuper members’ retirement savings to further bolster the public-private partnership of the state and industry which profits politically and financially from the human horror that is the mandatory detention system. The recent Human Rights Commission Inquiry into the 518 children in detention as well as the murder of Reza Berati and the death due to severe neglect of Hamid Kehazaei, both interned on Manus Island, are all testimony to the brutality of a system designed not to efficiently process refugees but to punish and deter others from coming to Australia.
The fact that the policy of mandatory detention is a bipartisan one means that the only way to effectively challenge it is through the withdrawal of the material support on which the system relies. As a member of UniSuper, I am calling on you to cease investing my funds and those of my colleagues across Australia in the mandatory detention industry through your investments in Transfield and Decmil. Complete divestment is the only way of ensuring our funds are used ethically and securely. I am sure that you will take our concerns as members seriously and do the right thing.