Australian news, and some related international items

Big Tech, weapons, tax havens, even Rupert Murdoch – secrets from the Future Fund investment vault

AUKUS wins

Paul Keating’s words still resonate in Aussie minds,

At the Kabuki show in San Diego … there’s three leaders standing there, only one is paying, our bloke, Albo.

 Michael West Media, Philip Dorling and Rex Patrick | Mar 26, 2023 

The secretive Future Fund’s chairman Peter Costello might not like it, but Freedom of Information requests are peeling back the lid on the Fund’s weighty overseas investments. Philip Dorling and Rex Patrick report the more controversial ones.

Big Tech, Big Pharma and Big Oil are the top of the pops in a newly released list of Future Fund Investments across the United States, United Kingdom and a range of tax havens, notably among the Cayman Islands.

These revelations come on top of revelations earlier this year about ethically and environmentally questionable Future Fund investments in China.

The latest FOI drilling into the side of the vault also shed light on the Fund’s investments in arms manufacturers, Chinese companies operating out of the Caymans as well as politically controversial investments in Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing media empire.

It’s so infuriated Senator Barbara Pocock, who has been pursuing the Fund’s investment practices the Senate. “It should not take FOI requests for Australian citizens to find out where their own money is being invested. The Future Fund is suffering from a corrosive secrecy disease.

The public should know about these Future Fund investments in carbon polluting fossil fuels, in arms manufacture and in companies based in tax havens – not to mention the Murdoch and Fox media empires. It’s time to come clean.

Big Tech

In what may be its largest investment in a single publicly listed foreign company, the Future Fund holds a $793 million stake in tech giant Microsoft. Other very large Future Fund tech investments include Google owner Alphabet ($559.9m), NVIDIA ($346.8m), Cisco Systems ($288.2m), Meta Platforms ($256.4m) and Intel Corp ($240.0m). Amazon comes in with a rather more modest investment of $187 million.

Given the vital importance of IT and telecommunications policy for Australian governments, business, our economy and society, disclosure of the nature and scale of these publicly funded investments is clearly in the public interest.

However, it only comes after the Future Fund was forced to abandon its deep preference for secrecy and resistance to scrutiny through FOI.

Pharma, energy and mining………………………………..

AUKUS wins

Paul Keating’s words still resonate in Aussie minds,

At the Kabuki show in San Diego … there’s three leaders standing there, only one is paying, our bloke, Albo.

But it appears the Future Fund is well ahead of Albo, with investments in leading American and British aerospace and defence manufacturers including Raytheon Technologies ($91.9m), Lockheed Martin Co ($75.1m), General Dynamics ($65.3m), Northrop Grumman ($41.5m), Honeywell International ($76.0m), BAE Systems ($20m), and Rolls-Royce ($0.7m).

A number of these companies will be deeply involved with the AUKUS nuclear submarine project, so maybe this a return path for a tiny share of the eye-watering $368 billion AUKUS price tag.

Tax haven heaven………………………………………………………

Backing Murdoch

In the end however, two quite modest investments in the United States may prove to be among the Future Fund’s more controversial holdings – a $6.3 million stake in News Corp and $13.5 million in Fox Corp which have been notable political allies of Coalition governments.

That’s $19.8 million in the two companies controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his primary channels of national and global political influence………………………………………….

The Future Fund is an independent, statutory body but it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if a “Defund Murdoch” campaign emerges.

Last month Treasurer Jim Chalmers wrote about the need to bring ethics and values into national economic and financial policy. Perhaps he should call in Costello for a chat about ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance).


March 26, 2023 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics

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