Should the ACT Government be investing ethically?

johnboy 18 January 2007 58

[First filed: January 17, 2007 @ 12:58]

The Canberra Times has a piece on a huge ruckus surroundng the ACTPS’ pension fund putting $9 million into three tobacco companies: Altria Group, Japan Tobacco and Swedish Match.

As I see it there are a few seperate issues here:

1) What’s wrong with tobacco companies?

2) Is there a moral difference between direct and indirect investment?

3) Should the ACT Government be willing to take a loss in the market in order to promote companies that act ethically?

4) Why does Mr. Stanhope say it’s all too hard when the market is crammed full of ethical funds?

Your thoughts?

UPDATED: The Canberra Times has followed up with a story on all the other areas the ACT invests:

arms manufacturers [including cluster bomb makers], the nuclear power industry, gambling and the scandal-plagued AWB

No wonder tobacco troubled them not at all.

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58 Responses to Should the ACT Government be investing ethically?
vg vg 5:54 pm 19 Jan 07

The only responsibility the ACT Govt has is to ensure the highest return for its super holders…within reason

Big Al Big Al 5:32 pm 19 Jan 07

What a crock – You’r giving this fiasco more oxygen that it deserves JB. Unless I am mistaken and have missed a recent (say last 15 years) equity float of a tobbacco company there’s absolutely nothing in this. Of course that wont stop the hapless schmuck dogooders wringing their misguided little hands about those big bad nasty Big Tobbacco shares

simto simto 2:56 pm 19 Jan 07

It’s always possible that he’s noticed the voting stock involved, and has decided it gives him more chances to grandstand…

Of course, seeing as he’d then be playing with his retirement fund, and the retirement funds of everyone who works with him, he might decide this is one of those instances when he should keep the angry voice under control.

poptop poptop 2:24 pm 19 Jan 07

I’m less appalled by the actual investments than the standard duckshoving over responsibility.

Stanhope said it’s not HIS place to decide where investments are purchased with what was formerly my super funds, I don’t recall anyone checking with me how I wanted my super funds invested.

Who decides? ACTTreasury, that’s who. They are answerable to whom? [Think hard]

And now Stanhope decides to investigate? So he might be going to intervene? He suddenly has that capacity? That is suddenly appropriate?


johnboy johnboy 11:51 am 19 Jan 07

More appropriate to say you’re buying a share in the house in which the murderer is still living and bolstering the value of his own remaining share.

If the ACT Government was voting its stock to change the policies of the companies involved then your analogy would hold more water.

But if that was the case I suspect we’d have heard something about it by now.

jemmy jemmy 11:43 am 19 Jan 07

Poptop, if your fund is buying shares on the market, you’re not funding tobacco and cluster bombs.

To use a lame analogy that doesn’t bear too deep a scrutiny ;), if a murderer built a house 50 years ago and sold it, and it got sold again and again, and you buy it today, did you fund the murderer? No, you funded the current owner of the house. Same if you buy shares, you’re buying off the current owner of the shares, the company doesn’t get a cent of your money..

poptop poptop 8:31 am 19 Jan 07

I was an ACT Public Servant for many years, until I jagged a package. Never in that time did anyone inform me I was funding tobacco and cluster bombs to secure my financial future.

Silly me, it didn’t enter my head to enquire. At least the ACT Public Servants who may be as blind as I was can now be aware of the issue and make some decisions as to whether they are happy with what “their” fund is doing with their money.

LurkerGal LurkerGal 8:00 am 19 Jan 07

As an ex financial planner, I have to say that the “non ethical” investments have higher returns than the supposed “ethical”.

As long as I’m not investing in a sweatshop in Taiwan, to be honest, I’d rather be investing in something that was actually going to return! And it is none of the general public’s business, only the members of the superfund!

Thumper Thumper 11:28 pm 18 Jan 07


johnboy johnboy 11:08 pm 18 Jan 07

Hey wow Jellen, what’s this?

Would that be a story I wrote just yesterday having a go at a Liberal?

So are you just illiterate? Or maliciously misleading?

johnboy johnboy 10:59 pm 18 Jan 07

“never (as far as I have seen) to “question” anything propounded by Liberals”

Maybe you need to learn how to read then you ignorant moron.

We’ve been labelled an “anti-liberal website” by no less than the ABC.

But hey, you’ve been here 5 minutes so you’re obviously an expert.

jellen jellen 10:44 pm 18 Jan 07

Agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment that not everything comes down to Liberal v Labor Simbo. The point I was making was that it seems to me rather inconsistent to only raise “questions” that are critical of a Labor govt, never (as far as I have seen) to “question” anything propounded by Liberals and then to beg off the conservative tag. To labour the point, while it may be the mark of hard core libertarianism to criticise Stalinist recommendations for sunscreen use, it is certainly not consistent with that supposedly ‘libertarian’ position to “question” the ACTPS super fund’s choice of investments. Seems to be a funny kind of libertarian that would suggest that individual investors should have their retirement savings subject to the heavy yoke of Stalinist rules dictating what constitues an acceptable and/or non-acceptable investments?

johnboy johnboy 9:59 pm 18 Jan 07

It’s also worth saying that i know plenty of dyed in the wool Liberals who wouldn’t touch a portfolio as dirty as the one described.

simbo simbo 9:55 pm 18 Jan 07

Yep, Jellen, as has been frequently noted, he’s not a liberal, he’s a libertarian.

Now, libertarian’s have an awful lot of holes in their ideology too, but simplifying things to “you must be a liberal or a labour supporter” does tend to distort the rich spectrum of political beliefs that actually exist in the world.

johnboy johnboy 9:21 pm 18 Jan 07

Yeah, asking questions makes me a young liberal, you tool.

Oh right none of our business we silly voters, how dare we question the great and good!

jellen jellen 9:15 pm 18 Jan 07

Uh – why is this anyone’s business but those whose money it is? Pigdog and Jemmy – spot on. If you are an ACT public servant you might have a right to a say in this but not otherwise. We might just as well make adverse comment on where the Commonwealth PS super is invested, or where Telstra employees’ super is invested, or where AWB’s employees’ super is invested and the list goes on. I detect a lack of ideological consistency in JB criticising the (perhaps too) free market actions of the Stanhope govt today and yet calling Katy “Stalinist” the other day for suggesting we use sunscreen. Do you see the world through royal blue young Liberal glasses JB?

poptop poptop 4:42 pm 18 Jan 07

So where are Mr Stanhope’s own superannuation investments squirrelled away then??

Deano Deano 4:41 pm 18 Jan 07

I have an investment in Tattersalls as I see it as the best way I can get back my taxes that are used to make the social security payments that are wasted in poker machines (there is some research available that shows an increase in poker machine revenues following the introduction of the baby bonus). I don’t necessarily like poker machines but I don’t see why I should support the dumb people who use them.

Al Al 3:03 pm 18 Jan 07

That’s how we got rid of rabbits out of the farm. A wonderful device called a (funnily enough) Rid-a-Rabbit. You stick an LPG hose in a downwind burrow hole and a spark probe in an upwind entrance. When the gas clouds up out of all the holes, hit the spark button and whoomp. More the asphixiation and the shock wave that did the bunnies in than the fire.
Stuff a bunch of fertiliser bags down each hole (to stop any bunnies still outside from digging it out again), back fill, all done.
Sounds nasty, but a lot better on the critters than RCD and mixo…

Maelinar Maelinar 2:48 pm 18 Jan 07

Hold your breath and try to fart as long as you are not in a flammable environment – it’ll give you an extra minute or two.

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