Jane Hume Debby Blakey Milton Friedman
Assistant Minister for Superannuation Jane Hume and HESTA CEO Debby Blakey (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas/HESTA)

Last Thursday, industry super fund HESTA wrote to the ASX200 companies’ bosses and boards imploring them to lower carbon emissions, appoint more female leaders and moderate executive bonuses.

The letter came just days after Assistant Minister for Superannuation Jane Hume lashed industry super funds for taking an activist role in corporate governance instead of merely seeking profits for members.

This is the latest incarnation of an age-old debate. This month marks 50 years since economist Milton Friedman wrote his famous essay urging companies to focus solely on maximising profits for shareholders, and not waste their money on "social responsibility".