Group of Eight Universities have been subject to public outcry and international embarrassment after colluding to keep their investment records from the public eye. On the 27th of March Monash’s CFO, David Pitt, accidentally Cc’ed an activist from Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) into an email sent to Monash’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ed Byrne, advising him that the university should make their financial records available to that same organisation.
The email added that the financial management teams of the other Group of Eight universities did not intended to make their records available.
The AODP is currently undertaking a survey of 300 universities’ investments in fossil fuels and has approached all of Australia’s Group of Eight universities to participate by disclosing their plans to mitigate the financial and environmental risks posed by climate change. The organisation has reportedly had little success with obtaining responses from the universities.
Pitt’s email advised Byrne, ”better not to respond so this group would [sic] have to rely on public information and we would simply be in a position to say that we are unaware of their scoring and did not participate… We have discussed this area at a recent Go8 CFO meeting and most have not entertained letting others judge their efforts in this way.”
The leaked email has been widely condemned by members of the Fossil Free movement. This includes ANU’s own highly active group, Fossil Free ANU, who are putting increasing pressure on both the ANU and other Australian tertiary institutions, to divest from fossil fuels and increase transparency in their investment decisions. As of the time of publication, the ANU is yet to respond to the AODP’s invitation.
For more on this issue see “Why does the ANU want to wreck our future?” by Tom Swann, an active member of Fossil Free ANU, on page 6 of this edition of Woroni.