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Media Release

Coal and gas concerns could shift $247 billion in super funds

11 March 2013

Melbourne / Canberra, 11 March 2013

Polling has revealed that a quarter of superannuation fund members – representing $247 billion in pooled funds – would be prepared to move change superannuation funds if their current provider is found to be invested in coal and coal seam gas.

The poll, conducted for Market Forces by The Australia Institute, also found that more superannuation fund members believed that their fund should manage their long-term interests by considering the ethical and environmentally responsible behaviour of companies in their portfolio than those who believes the financial return was all that mattered.

“The coal and gas boom underway in Australia threatens our farmland, water, and environmental assets such as the Great Barrier Reef. And it’s being funded by financial institutions, spending the money of Australians who care about protecting the environment and preserving our precious natural icons,” said Market Forces Campaigner Julien Vincent.

“This should be a massive wake-up call to the superannuation sector. We already know that Australians are concerned about the impacts of coal and gas expansion. Now we know it could cost the super sector a quarter of a trillion dollars in business,” said Mr Vincent.

“The super funds have been telling us that their members are disengaged for years but what this evidence shows is that maybe it’s time for the funds to become more engaged; more engaged with the issues their members are concerned with and more engaged with organisations that represent their members interests,” said Dr Richard Denniss, Executive Director of The Australia Institute.

A copy of the survey results is being sent to every superannuation fund in Australia, along with a questionnaire of each fund’s investments in coal mining and coal seam gas extraction. Funds are being asked how much they have invested in these industries, the policies and practices that guide these investments, and whether they have plans to change their approach to coal and coal seam gas investments. The results will be posted online by Market Forces.

“If we’re going to prevent the environmental disaster that awaits by letting the coal and gas industry get away with their massive expansion plans, it means cutting off the money to these companies and projects, and redirecting it towards clean projects that protect and enhance the environment.

“Market Forces hopes that by clarifying which companies are in and out of coal and coal seam gas, super fund members can make decisions about where they want to put their money,” concluded Mr Vincent.

Polling results

Time to get engaged with super (TAI paper)