Would you be upset if your super fund was investing in global weapons manufacturers? Or doesn’t it matter as long as the returns are good?
Several major superannuation funds, including UniSuper, Aware Super and Equip Super, have defended their decision to invest your money in weapons companies, despite widespread concerns from those same members, the Financial Standard is reporting.
Some of the weapons manufacturers invested in include US-based Lockheed Martin and Honeywell, France’s Thales group, the UK’s BAE Systems and Israel’s Elbit Systems. Investments in those companies have come under particular scrutiny due to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Where your money is being spent
UniSuper controls just over a billion dollars in funds – $1.06 billion to be exact. Around 1.2 per cent ($13.9 million) of that is invested in Honeywell, while $8.5 million is invested in Lockheed Martin.
Aware Super’s Accumulation Growth option has $24.7 million invested in BAE, $6.4 million in Honeywell, $613,000 in Thales and $137,000 in Elbit.
Equip Super’s MySuper option, for example, had as much as $2.5 million in Honeywell, $1 million in Lockheed and $60,000 in Elbit.
Australian Retirement Trust, Equip Super and Catholic Super, Mine Super and TWUSUPER all had holdings in three or more of the five companies.
Out of the sample funds looked at, Hostplus was the only fund that does not invest in any of the weapons companies.
The inclusion of Elbit in particular has sparked accusations of war profiteering as the company is the primary supplier of land-based equipment and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).
Since the 7 October 2023 Hamas attacks on southern Israel that killed about 1200 civilians and saw 239 people taken hostage, the IDF has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, of which more than 12,000 were children or infants.
Government also has blood on its hands
It appears it’s not just super fund returns benefitting from conflict. The Future Fund, the government sovereign wealth fund set up back in 2006, has invested more than $600 million of public money in around 30 different weapons companies.
Documents show the fund has almost half a million dollars invested in Elbit, despite a government investment ban on the company that has been in place since 2021 due to “exclusions related to military weapons-related Conventions or Treaties ratified by Australia”.
Greens Senator David Shoebridge is calling on the government to introduce ethical investment rules for the Future Fund.
“The Albanese government needs to introduce mandatory ethical investment rules for the Future Fund and that must absolutely include a prohibition on investing in weapon manufacturers.
“The Future Fund’s board needs to explain how it continues to invest in Elbit Systems despite the publicly announced direction it gave to withdraw those funds because of Australia’s international legal obligations.
“The majority of Australians want peace and justice, not just in Palestine, but around the world, yet the country’s wealth is instead being funnelled into companies that fuel violence.”
Would it bother you if your super fund was invested in weapons manufacturers? Or doesn’t it matter as long as there’s a profit? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Also read: Top super fund performers for 2023