Australia’s $74 billion Future Fund has sold out of a total of 10 companies associated with the manufacture of cluster munitions since Australia’s signed on to the Convention on Cluster Munitionsin 2008.
The treaty, adopted by over 100 states, bans cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.
The Future Fund’s policy is to only invest in activities legal in Australia and those that do not contravene international conventions to which Australia is a signatory.
A spokes for the Future Fund said the first review of its portfolio identified four companies that clearly deserved exclusion. Then, “during 2010 we undertook a rigorous process to identify and assess companies where evidence was less strong. As a result we have now excluded a total of 10 companies and unwound any investments we held.
‘The companies are: Alliant Techsystems, General Dynamics, Hanwha, Kaman, L-3 Communications Holdings, Lockheed Martin, Poongsan, Raytheon, Singapore Technologies Engineering and Textron,” he said.
Federal legislation to ensure consistency between Australian law and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Criminal Code Amendment (Cluster Munitions Prohibition) Bill 2010, is currently before the parliament. It is unclear how this law will treat private investment in cluster weapon manufacturers.
A parliamentary library report on the legislation notes that Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and New Zealand all currently prohibit investment in cluster munitions producers.
The Australian Bill “does not include an express prohibition on investment by Australian entities in the development or production of cluster munitions” according to the report. But a government submission to a Senate Committee noted:
“the intentional provision of financial assistance to an entity so that the entity can develop or produce cluster munitions would amount to an offence under the proposed provisions in the Bill.
“However, consistent with the Convention, accidental or innocent acts of assistance, encouragement or inducement will not fall within the offences in the Bill.
“For example, a person who contributes to a superannuation fund which includes investment in companies that may develop or produce cluster munitions is unlikely to satisfy the required mental elements for the offence contained in the Bill”.