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Heat on Labor over tobacco investments

Heat on Labor over tobacco investments.

Australia has become something of a world leader in tobacco control, not least with its recent legislation on plain packs and very strong Ministerial support for taking on the tobacco industry.

It comes as something of a shock then, to find that a major Government Superannuation Fund has substantial tobacco investments, and that arguments in support of this position closely mirror those from UK funds, such as not interfering with the freedom of fund managers to select investments.

Such a position is really a dereliction of duty, as the cost to Australian taxpayers of tobacco addiction far outweighs any income from tobacco investments.  As this fund was apparently created to limit pension costs for future taxpayers, it is ironic that the government, through this fund, partly owns the very companies it is about to fight tooth and nail through the courts.   Plain packs is the policy which has the industry screaming with good reason.  If successful the government could badly damage some of these companies, not only in Australia but around the world as other jurisdictions follow suit, and reduce future returns to the pension fund.

It is difficult to see how the fund can continue to part own the companies which are challenging the democratically elected government’s position and law which has such strong general support in the country.

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