Australia pension fund reviewing tobacco stake

The Australian government's pension fund for public servants said Thursday it was reviewing its investment in tobacco shares following the passage of plain packaging laws in a bid to curb smoking.

The Future Fund, which manages some Aus$80 billion in for government workers, said its board had requested a review of tobacco holdings worth Aus219 million in the light of Canberra's new anti-smoking policies.

"We think it's important, particularly given the responsibility for managing such a large pool of capital for the long term, that we take a careful, methodical and considered approach to these kinds of issues," said Future Fund managing director Mark Burgess.

"This work has been started and will include consideration of the cost and implications of exclusion."

Tobacco products in Australia will have to be sold in drab, uniform khaki packaging with graphic health warnings from December 1 after smoking giants lost a High Court challenge to the measures in August.

The fund has come under growing pressure to dump the shares after it was revealed in the Senate last week that new stock worth almost Aus$40 million was being bought at the same time the new policies were being pushed through.

Health groups and the left-wing Greens party have described the investment as inconsistent with public values.

The Australian government estimates there are 15,000 deaths nationally each year from tobacco-related illnesses and that smoking costs more than Aus$30 billion a year in healthcare and lost productivity.

The Future Fund has holdings in major firms including British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Inc and Philip Morris—all of whom were parties to the High Court challenge to Australia's plain packet plan.

It has previously jettisoned holdings on ethical grounds, selling off its stock in 10 defence companies that manufactured cluster munitions and land-mines in 2011.

Similar moves against were taken by the Norwegian government's in 2010.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Philip Morris challenges plain packs in Australia

Dec 20, 2011

Global tobacco giant Philip Morris Tuesday stepped up its legal campaign against an Australian law banning logos and branding from cigarette packs, saying it had taken its case to the High Court.

Australia cigarette plan facing new legal threat

Jul 02, 2011

A second global tobacco giant has flagged legal action over Australia's plain packaging plan for cigarettes, warning of violations of its intellectual property rights, a report said Saturday.

BAT challenges Australia cigarette packaging law

Dec 01, 2011

British American Tobacco on Thursday launched a High Court challenge against a law that will require plain packaging on cigarettes in Australia, claiming it infringes intellectual property rights.

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

Oct 24, 2014

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

Oct 24, 2014

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

Oct 24, 2014

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments