A Cartoonist With a Pension?

By Jeremy Meltingtallow

An elderly Oscar the penguin

I was recently floored by a question that I have never had from a client in 11 years of full time cartooning:

Do you have a superannuation fund (Australian pension)…?

and even more surprisingly:

…because we would like to pay into it.

I replied that cartoonists don’t retire – we keep working until we die at the drawing board. The client persisted:

Would you like to consider setting up a [superannuation] account…? It might not add up to an awful lot, but it’s an amount you are entitled to. Hopefully you’ll be with us for a while and we can keep contributing to it.

(I really love this client). So that made me think… and search on the internet…and find that it might really work out to have a superannuation account as I could claim it back against my tax, or have the government pay into my pension (getting money from the government is always a persuasive prospect).

A search online showed only one superannuation company that was really worth considering: Australian Ethical. They invest in truly environmentally sustainable companies that care about people as well as profits. Coincidentally, one of their (recycled paper) leaflets showed up in the ACF’s Habitat magazine. And they were launching a new fund called the Climate Advocacy Fund, a joint venture between Australian Ethical and the Climate Institute. I went to a presentation by one of their directors, James Thier, last night. It’s a weird new thing. They aim to effect change by investing in the Australian Stock Exchange (including companies they wouldn’t previously have touched with a barge pole) and then tabling resolutions with some of those companies to try and get some of the most carbon-intensive ones to change their game. From the AE web site, the aim and objective of the Climate Advocacy Fund is to:

  • Provide returns consistent with the broad Australian share market index and provide an avenue for active engagement with the companies included in the index.
  • … track the return of the S&P/ASX 200 share market index
  • … improve the corporate behaviour of companies through engagement on climate change issues.

I like the idea that this company,  having invested in ethical, sustainable companies for 20+ years is now prepared to try another tack – to take on some of the companies who would make a bigger difference to our future, if they would only change the way they operate.

I’m going to get myself a pension plan.