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ACT not doing anything about ethical investment but we are paying a consultant to turn blue in the face

By johnboy - 23 June 2009 28

The Canberra Times reports that the investments of the ACT public service superannuation scheme have been made harder to ascertain, but no concrete moves have been made to make it more ethical.

There is a school of thought, usually held by people who don’t have many friends, that if the smart ethical money is divesting from tobacco, weapons, and child slavery firms then there are superior investment opportunities to be had in the subsequently under-priced merchants of death and human misery.

But even if you do talk too loudly at barbecues about your investments this next bit would probably strike you as a particularly useless approach:

    Chief Minister Jon Stanhope ordered a review of the investments, saying he was uncomfortable with some of the companies’ work. But the Government has not instructed its investment managers to sell any shares since then, nor has it exercised voting rights at company meetings.

    Treasurer Katy Gallagher said yesterday that it had, however, hired an investment consultant, Regnan, to discuss environmental, social and governance issues with companies on the Government’s behalf.

So we’re paying a consultant to wander into the offices of, say, British American Tobacco or Lockheed Martin and lecture them about the evils of their core business? In turn requiring those businesses the ACT has invested in to keep someone around who looks good in a suit doing nothing more than offering tea and biscuits to our consultant?

Brilliant.

What’s Your opinion?


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28 Responses to
ACT not doing anything about ethical investment but we are paying a consultant to turn blue in the face
p1 1:43 pm 23 Jun 09

…businesses which liquefied the still-warm corpses of the homeless and turned them into industrial lubricant…

Wish I’d got in early on that one, before the market took a downturn.

Thumper 1:36 pm 23 Jun 09

What pigdog, CK and Skid said.

Skidbladnir 1:27 pm 23 Jun 09

If the ACT Government claims to be representing the interests of the ACT superannuation participant, and decides they should warm their own hearts by buying shares in Corporations who somehow manage to generate profit through cuddling puppies, despite it generating less dividend that say, businesses which liquefied the still-warm corpses of the homeless and turned them into industrial lubricant or just pried guns from dying African coldiers and sold them to African children…

What recourse would ACT super participants get as ‘oppressed minority shareholders’ for claims on lost dividend yield through misuse of funds?

Clown Killer 1:22 pm 23 Jun 09

Worrying about how ethically your superannuation gets invested is a bit of a nonsense.

If you wear clothes you’ve bought in the shops there’s a better than even chance that they come from some factory in south east Asia with mediaeval working conditions – it’s not just Nike, it’s pretty much everything you wear.

If you eat food you didn’t grow yourself it was probably made using pesticides tested by spraying them into the eyes of African orphans.

If you drink soda your soul will burn in hell because soda companies have offices in more than one country and everyone knows that operating in more than one market is evil.

WillowJim 12:50 pm 23 Jun 09

just let people have the choice of where they invest their super

I’m pretty certain the ACT superannuation fund provides no choice. There are many ACT public servants in the old ComSuper funds (CSS and PSS), and they neither have a say in how their money is invested nor can they switch to another fund. In any event, they wouldn’t want to change their fund, as ComSuper’s extremely generous.

So it’s up to Treasury alone how they invest ratepayers’ money. With the software now available to fund managers, investing ethically is a cinch.

PigDog 12:41 pm 23 Jun 09

Seems dangerous when politicians start getting involved in how to best invest your super.

I would imagine that most people are after the best return possible on their investment, so the fund should be geared towards this. If you really are concerned that your retirement income was created by the hard labour of child slaves carving out ash trays from baby seal eyes on the ice moon of Hoth, put your money in an ethical investment fund. The government should not be taking part in that decision – just let people have the choice of where they invest their super.

Ethics is all relative any way.

chewy14 12:07 pm 23 Jun 09

GB said :

barking toad said :

The only ethic to worry about is positive return/capital growth.

I’ve got some child slavery futures I’m trying to unload. Give me a call.

Still trying to offload those Nike shares?

Clown Killer 12:06 pm 23 Jun 09

People have a choice of superannuation fund. Individual employeed should make the decision themselves. If you don’t like the ACT fund, then take your contributions somewhere else.

barking toad 12:06 pm 23 Jun 09

Investing in windmills is a waste of money.

The only reason they are in business is because of taxpayer funded subsidies.

Let them stand on private funding from those who wish to lose money. The smug feel good factor of those investors will soon be replaced by panic over lost capital.

GB 12:02 pm 23 Jun 09

barking toad said :

The only ethic to worry about is positive return/capital growth.

I’ve got some child slavery futures I’m trying to unload. Give me a call.

barking toad 11:58 am 23 Jun 09

And the return on investment from the cost of engaging the consultant will be a glossy report which achieves nothing except another filing job for someone.

But the mayor will be able to tick another box of having “done something”.

He’ll fail to see the irony in ethical investment of taxpayer funds.

jimbocool 11:55 am 23 Jun 09

I disagree barking toad – there’s plenty of money to be made in ethical investments. Where do you think the energy companies are getting the finance to put up their windmills from? Given that the investments the ACT government is making are using my and other ratepayers money, I would prefer it if they weren’t investing it in tobacco or leaded fuel. I’d also like them to be feeding some of that investment into the local economy by using, at least partially, the investment services of a local company.

barking toad 11:19 am 23 Jun 09

The only ethic to worry about is positive return/capital growth.

If you’re concerned whether your investment may lead to the death of a seal in the Arctic at the hands of peckish polar bear losing weight because of gorebull warming then you’ve got too much money and should donate it to me.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 10:30 am 23 Jun 09

Ethical investments don’t necessarily return less than other generalised investment products.

jimbocool 10:08 am 23 Jun 09

And yet, here in the little old ACT, one of the very first ethical funds managers, possibly the first – Australian Ethical Investments – was set up in the old Downer school with seed funding from the Carnell government. It’s now got 100s of millions under management and, while hammered like everyone else during the GFC, is now posting positive returns for the last six months. Surely it wouldn’t have been that much of a stretch to have a chat to them about ethical investing?

The stupidities of this government know no boundaries.

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