Home > Uncategorized > Australian government pension fund dumps tobacco – The West Australian

Australian government pension fund dumps tobacco – The West Australian

Australian government pension fund dumps tobacco – The West Australian.

Great news from Australia where the Future Fund, a major national superannuation fund for government employees, has decided to pull out of tobacco investments.  Details of the full reasoning are not yet available but

“The board noted tobacco’s very particular characteristics including its damaging health effects, addictive properties and that there is no safe level of consumption,” said fund chairman David Gonski.

“In doing so the board also considered its investment policies and approach to environmental, social and governance issues.”

The Future Fund now excludes just two classes of investment: cluster bomb manufacturers and tobacco manufacturers.  Both are subject to international treaties to which both the UK and Australian governments are signatories.

There is a reluctance in the pension fund community generally to restrict investments, not least because every ethical cause under the sun calls for such restrictions in relation to its single issue.

I have argued before that tobacco is in a different class to all other consumer goods because it kills half its lifelong users, when smoked as intended by the manufacturer.  Thus it is quite different from alcohol, fast food, fossil fuels etc.

However, the really important point about this Australian decision is that it appears to be one of a series now, beginning with New Zealand and Norway, where funds have excluded tobacco, and in which those countries’ international Treaty obligations have been to the fore in the reasoning.

The FCTC is binding on the UK, all parts of government, including local government, and all those who serve local government.  It is surely time that UK local authority pension funds recognise that their current policies are contrary to public health, and in breach of the FCTC guidelines which specify no government investment in tobacco.

 

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