Senate debates

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Government Investment Funds Amendment (Ethical Investments) Bill 2011; Second Reading

11:50 am

Photo of Ursula StephensUrsula Stephens (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Mr President. In the brief time available to me I make the point that the government supports the recommendations of the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee, as presented in its report, and agrees with the committee's recommendation that this bill, the Government Investment Funds Amendment (Ethical Investments) Bill 2011, not be passed because it would change the existing legislative framework, governance principles and investment decision-making structure of the Future Fund and would undermine the independence of the board and would likely result in conflicting objectives for the board. The bill would create a second set of ministerial directions with different policy objectives which are likely to change over time and could actually result in ministers prohibiting certain types of investment and create conflict such as many unintended consequences. The bill would pose many practical difficulties and impact on the cost and return for the Future Fund. It would certainly create great difficulties.

It is unfortunate that I do not have time to address the many issues that were raised in Senator Di Natale's speech. I need to say that it was the view of the committee, the Future Fund and of course the government that the bill would create ambiguity around the role of the Future Fund board and the potential for conflicts of interest in objectives when making investment decisions, that the provisions of the bill would constrain the ability of the board to deliver on its long-term investment strategy and would have serious implications for costs, financial returns and the strength of the government's long-term financial position.

Debate adjourned.


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