Former Labor health minister Nicola Roxon, who made her mark in politics as a tobacco control campaigner who was responsible for bringing in plain packaging for cigarettes, has been appointed HESTA’s incoming independent chair.

She replaces Angela Emslie whose term with the industry superannuation fund comes to an end on December 31.

Debby Blakey

“I have long admired HESTA for its leadership in responsible investment and stewardship, and its gutsy advocacy on issues that matter for members,” Ms Roxon said in a statement on Wednesday.

“I am excited to be joining HESTA at this important time for the superannuation industry more broadly.”

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said Ms Roxon’s experience in health and governance would be a huge asset for the organisation.

“We are delighted to welcome Nicola the HESTA,” she said.

Ms Blakey also paid tribute to Ms Emslie as a “true pioneer in responsible investment”, an inspiring leader and an influential advocate for the industry fund sector.

Ms Roxon was first elected to parliament in 1998 after an early career as an organiser with the National Union of Workers and later as an industrial lawyer. She served as Minister for Health and Ageing from 2007-2011.

She became the first in Australia to be appointed Attorney General in 2011, a position she held until her retirement from politics in 2013.

Ms Roxon is currently Chair of Bupa Australia and NZ and the Cancer Council Australia as well as non-executive director at Dexus and Lifestyle Communities.

She will step down from her roles as chair of the Accounting and Professional and Ethical Standards Board and adjunct professor at Victoria University’s College of Law and Justice to focus on her new role.

Ms Emslie, who has held the position since 2010, said in a statement that she felt privileged to have served HESTA members and was confident Ms Roxon would continue to focus on making a difference to members’ financial futures.

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