Speech delivered to the opening session of the 2016 ASFA conference held in the Gold Coast Convention Centre, 9-11 November 2016.
A very warm welcome to delegates, guests, partners, exhibitors – friends.
What a magnificent ceremony this morning by Luther Cora. Australians know that the Australian aborigines believe they sing the world into existence. At our conference we have started, spirited into discussing and understanding of our stories and dreams of the superannuation of the future.
ASFA, all of us, pay respect to the traditional custodians of the land upon which we meet, the people of the Yugambeh language group, the traditional owners of the Gold Coast area.
What a fantastic set of numbers we have just seen in the opening video! At nearly 2,000 participants we have set a terrific record – larger than last year, the largest pension fund conference in the world.
I would particularly like to welcome to our 260 first timers and our many emerging leaders in the audience.
For the first time ever, we are very happy to announce we have launched satellite events to our more geographically distanced members in Western Australia. Welcome to your own conference experience on the other side of Australia – we are thrilled that you can be involved.
Also, to our 250 virtual customers watching this via live stream around the globe – a warm welcome. We hope in the future years, you can join us in person.
This year we welcome 69 international delegates from 17 countries including: Canada – 2, China – 3, Denmark – 1, Fiji – 2, Gibraltar – 1, Hong Kong – 1, Kenya – 3, Kingdom of Tonga – 5, Kiribati – 3, Malaysia – 3, Netherlands – 1, New Zealand – 6, Papua New Guinea – 15, Singapore – 3, Tuvalu – 6, United Kingdom – 5, United States of America – 9.
I would also like to thank all of our commercial partners for this year’s conference. Without their support we could not stage an event like this. I would like to make special mention of our premium partners:
- LINK Group
- Bravura Solutions
- Challenger Limited
Opening Keynote Partner
- National Australia Bank
Disunity is death. It’s an old slogan, but that doesn’t make it stale. This Conference will focus on what’s best about our industry and how we challenge ourselves and each other to do things better, adapt and take advantage of disruptive change. We are all in this together.
Australia’s 2 trillion super industry is diverse with a range of healthy choices.
Last year I mentioned that if we were not careful the government of the day would pluck us unmercifully – as the golden goose for taxation revenue – hoping for the minimum hissing possible.
Continuing the bird analogy, we need to avoid looking like headless chooks.
Governments of all colours love to divide and conquer and to pretend that the 95% of issues we agree on are trivial compared to the 5% where there are differences.
We need to act with more unity and cohesion, respecting each other’s point of view. Which is why at this Conference we include a session with other industry associations. Collaboration is a theme of what we do.
In the big barnyard of superannuation, we sometimes need to peck out the intruders, the elements that give us all a bad name.
But let’s not get into a frenzy of excitement madly drawing blood and attacking each other. It is debilitating to confidence and damaging for the community.
Divided we fall.
We are all incredibly privileged to represent Australia’s most important industry, whose purpose is to fight for dignity and adequacy in retirement.
In developing the program for the conference this year, we chose to focus on the major issues you are facing and providing you with pragmatic solutions that you can take back to your business. There is something for everyone in this program which includes world class presenters speaking on thought provoking topics and providing in-depth analysis and insight on how we can measure up.
Now to Jim Minto – the best dressed man here, our former Chair, who has led us these past three months and who lives by the ideal that when you do the right thing, everyone wins.
Please welcome Jim to the stage.
At this conference on the opening morning, John Howard gave a speech dealing with global events. Before going on the stage, Martin Fahy, the ASFA CEO quipped to John that “between the three of us, there’s one good ear.”
John asked me over lunch “what your people are telling you about Florida?” The US presidential election was being counted and, incredibly, it looked like Trump would win. I did not have the heart to tell John that I had no people who could tell me what was happening in any of the closely contested states in America. So I replied: “It looks incredibly close. An amazing upset.”