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Greens outline their view on ethical investment

Greens co-leader Rod Donald outlines his views on how to ethically invest the Government's proposed super fund.

Tuesday, February 20th 2001, 9:18PM

by Philip Macalister

One of the big issues with progressing the Government's multi-billion dollar superannuation fund through to the next stage will be whether or not it can satisfy the Greens' demands for the fund to be invested ethically.

"If the fund does get off the ground we are determined that it should have an ethical component to it," Greens co-leader Rod Donald says.

These demands raise a number of questions, such as how do the Greens define ethical investment, and what proportion of the fund do they expect to invest ethically?

There are a number of ethical investment styles ranging from the more strident, such as shareholder advocacy and negative screening through to positive screening and best-of-sector selection (for full details of the different styles read the latest Ethical Investment column in Good Returns' features section).

Donald's preference for ethical investment is positive screening. That is the money is invested into businesses such as wind or solar energy, or organic horticulture. The opposite of this is negative screening where a manager avoids the so-called bad industries such as arms manufacturers, or businesses involved in alcohol or tobacco industries.

There is an argument that maybe the proportion of the fund which should be invested ethically should bear some sort of relationship with the percentage of the vote the Greens secure at the polls.

In response to this question Donald says: "I think the whole fund has to be invested ethically in the broadest sense."

He says in the Government has gone some way to addressing the Greens' concerns in the bill which was introduced to Parliament before Christmas.

"They've taken tentative steps in the right direction," he says, "but it needs to be a lot more solid."

Under the provisions already in the bill it would be very difficult for the fund to invest in things such as Burmese Government bonds.

Submissions on the bill closed earlier this month. It will come before the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee for the first time on Wednesday February 28.

« Cullen should practise on savings what he preachesAMP & Good Returns launch superannuation website »

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