22 February 2024

ACT Greens accused of 'hypocrisy' following revelations two MLAs had shares in Israel-linked companies

| Claire Fenwicke
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Emma Davidson and Jo Clay

Both Emma Davidson (left) and Jo Clay have divested the shares they had in companies linked to Israel. Photos: Michelle Kroll.

Two ACT Greens MLAs have offered their apologies after it was revealed they both held shares in companies linked to Israel settlements in Palestine.

The party has been vocal in its support for Palestine, previously calling on the ACT Government to divest from companies the UN had listed as “complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian Territories”.

The UN’s list contains 97 parent companies, business enterprises and licensors/franchisors.

An ACT Greens motion to the Legislative Assembly earlier this year had called on the government to end investments “in businesses that contribute to the illegal occupation of Palestine by the Israeli Government”, particularly singling out Airbnb Inc, Alstom SA, Bank Hapoalim BM, Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M, Bookings Holdings Inc, Expedia Group Inc, Israel Discount Bank Ltd, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd and Motorola Solutions Inc.

But it turns out Cabinet Minister Emma Davidson and backbencher Jo Clay both had shareholdings with companies with links to some of those 97 listed, including the original nine the party had fought the ACT Government to abandon.

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According to her declarations of interest filed on 10 September 2023, Ms Davidson had shares with iShares Core S&P 500. While the company itself isn’t on the UN’s list, it is a major mutual fund holder with Airbnb, Expedia, Bookings Holdings and Motorola Solutions.

The total amount in her exchange-traded fund (EFT) was $69.60.

Ms Davidson said she “immediately divested” her shares with iShares Core S&P 500 EFT when its ties were brought to her attention.

“It is not good enough that this slipped past me and I take full responsibility for this,” she said.

“I am deeply apologetic for any harm that may have been caused by this.”

As for Ms Clay, she filed on 4 September 2023 that she had shares with Stratasys Ltd. This isn’t on the UN list either; however, it is an American-Israeli manufacturer specialising in 3D-printed technology and the Israeli military is believed to be a major customer.

It has offices in Israel and its male employees are obliged to perform at least one month of annual military reserve duty and can be called to active duty.

Ms Clay also divested from the shareholding “as soon as I discovered” it didn’t meet her ethical standards. She did not disclose to Region the value of the investments.

“It’s not one of the business enterprises involved in listed activities identified as part of the divestment movement and identified in the recent ACT Greens motion, but it is certainly problematic,” Ms Clay said.

“Any amount of investment in organisations involved in genocide, war or violence is not acceptable.”

Ms Clay insisted she checked potential investments against ethical sources of information before choosing to invest, and she stated Stratasys Ltd was still listed on some of those sources.

“I’ve let those organisations know that they may need to check their standards,” she said.

“I clearly missed some information since I purchased this and I have now divested all my shares to ensure this does not happen again.”

Both women reasserted their and their party’s call for a permanent ceasefire in Palestine-Israel, as well as calling for more humanitarian aid for the Palestinian community. They urged the Federal Government to withdraw all support from the state of Israel.

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For some, apologies are not enough, particularly in light of the debate around the ACT Green’s motion.

It was amended so the ACT Government could review its shareholdings in line with the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) performance standards in its shareholdings policy.

During that debate on 7 February, Ms Davidson said to the Assembly: “If members cannot bring themselves to support this motion with the amendment, may the people of the ACT remember this at the next election and vote for people with some humanity to take their place.”

Ms Clay did not partake in the debate.

Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee said the revelations about Ms Clay and Ms Davidson’s shareholdings exposed “just more hypocrisy” from the ACT Greens.

“It speaks volumes that a minister has called on her own government to divest of certain shares without having done the due diligence of her own share portfolio,” she said.

“How can Canberrans have any faith in what members of the ACT Greens say when their own actions do not meet the standards they expect of others?

“Not only does this highlight the sloppiness of the ACT Greens party room but erodes public confidence of Ministers serving in Andrew Barr’s cabinet.”

The ACT 2024 election will be held on 19 October.

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What a beat up they discovered they had shares sold them and moved on with an apology. What more should they have done. I’m sure if Ms Lees looks at her share holdings she will have plenty of unethical investments, but wait oh no she’s a liberal therefore has no moral compass so doesn’t care right.

Gee. What a surprise.

An inane nit-picking exercise at best. Does everyone in a Super Fund know the terminal destination of their funds being invested by their Super Fund?

The Communist Greens go further than funding them, they actively support and chant in Parliament “Free Palestine.” The other gem of course is always ” from the river to the sea.” Which in effect calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. How any thinking government State or Federal can have these Marxist activists in a coalition defies logic.

I do Mick. My Super fund tells me in minute detail where my money gets invested. If I don’t agree or I want better returns I change strategies. My Super fund also is one of the few that doesn’t donate to political parties (left or right).

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” “Slipped” passed, yeh righto. Here’s another then “hypocrisy and hypocrites,” all of which the left excels at.

We’ve heard this story before. Ban gambling the greens said. Whilst the act maintained shares in gambling companies..

Most rational people don’t fund terriorsts.

The Communist Greens go further than funding them, they actively support and chant in Parliament “Free Palestine.” The other gem of course is always ” from the river to the sea.” Which in effect calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. How any thinking government State or Federal can have these Marxist activists in a coalition defies logic.

How can anyone have $69 of shares and then be an elected member of parliament in any jurisdiction ?????????

HiddenDragon8:28 pm 22 Feb 24

“If members cannot bring themselves to support this motion with the amendment, may the people of the ACT remember this at the next election and vote for people with some humanity to take their place.”

Or they could leave it to the national government to deal with foreign policy and elect people to the ACT Legislative Assembly who are focused on practical manifestations of humanity – rather than paint-by-numbers ideological agendas – somewhat closer to home.

Greens campaign slogan this upcoming election is “do as we say, not as we do”.

GrumpyGrandpa6:07 pm 22 Feb 24

Ok, Israel vs Palestine, I accept that people will have differing views on this subject and I’m not intending to push my views here. The thing however is that, I don’t believe in a democracy, a political party should be able to dictate the views of its MLA’s, beyond their vote on issues within the Assembly.

Are issues about Israel vs Palestine major issues within the Assembly? Will they play a factor in the 2024 ACT Election?

Where does this end? Can ordinary people who are are financial members of The Greens’ party (not MLAs), hold shares in these companies or do they need to also divest themselves to maintain their membership of The Greens?

Even holding an EFT holding like iShares Core S&P 500 (a mutual fund) is considered unacceptable! Where can a Green invest?

Do the invest soley in cash?

The point is the MLAs in question were calling for the ACT taxpayer to divest from certain holdings without having done so themselves. It illustrates a do as I say, not as I do attitude, a.k.a. hypocrisy, or an embarrassing lack of awareness of their own financial affairs. If they want to hold themselves out as morally superior to everyone else, they first need to ensure their own houses are in order. It reminds me of a Greens senate candidate some years back driving a big fuel guzzling SUV while telling everyone else they needed to reduce their emissions.

GrumpyGrandpa12:13 pm 23 Feb 24

G’day Garfield,
Yes, you are spot on. The Greens, with their purest, greater than thou, ideological views of the world are walking hypocrites.

I fully support politicans divesting themselves from conflicts of interests etc. If you talk the talk, you must also walk the walk.

Banning an Index fund like an EFT because it might hold a small interest something seems crazy, but hey, we are talking about The Greens.

You should invest where you get the best returns….. PERIOD! Politics should NEVER be part of that decision.

Tom McLuckie5:36 pm 22 Feb 24

It would be interesting as per previous disclosures what ACT Greens leader has done with his investment property? Transferred ownership to partner? Given the Greens are pushing for a rental freeze, can Shane Rattenbury confirm he or his partner have not increased the rent on that rental property over the last 3-4 years? And given the shortage in housing here in Canberra and in the bushfire affected South Coast, would he consider renting his other houses (has one in Braddon, one in South Durras and one in Calwell) at cost price? I won’t mention the $15k jolly he got to visit Antarctica for his trip down memory lane this time last year. There is NO SUCH THING as an emissions free trip or climate friendly trip to the Southern continent. More hypocrisy. Typical Green hypocrisy – the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

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