Super fund is giving up on cigarettes
Dumped ... Anne-Marie Corboy, chief executive of HESTA, confirmed the fund has started removing tobacco investments from its portfolio. Photo: James Davies
THE superannuation fund for health and community services workers has become the latest fund to dump its investments in tobacco.
The chief executive of the Health Employees Superannuation Trust Australia (HESTA), Anne-Marie Corboy, confirmed the fund had started removing tobacco investments from its portfolios, following a decision by the fund's board late last year.
Ms Corboy said she expected the fund, which has more than 750,000 members, to have sold all tobacco investments by April.
She said for more than a decade the fund had allowed members to put together tobacco-free portfolios, and had excluded tobacco from its ethical investment option since early last year.
She said less than $35 million of the $20 billion managed by the fund was invested in tobacco.
Anne Jones, the chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health Australia, welcomed the move.
''If a health fund invests in the tobacco industry, they are part of the tobacco industry,'' she said. ''It's clearly unethical and I'm glad they've made the right decision.''
HESTA's decision comes as the Future Fund weighs what to do with its tobacco investments, worth more than $200 million. The Future Fund chairman, David Gonski, told a Senate hearing in October the fund had not set out to invest in cigarette makers, but had acquired its shares through investments in fund managers, which often had a mandate to own top-performing stocks.
Ms Jones called on the Future Fund to dump its stake in tobacco, arguing it was hypocritical for Australia to try to stamp out smoking domestically while profiting from it abroad.
In November, the NSW government announced it would dump more than $200 million in tobacco investments.
First State Super, which has more than 770,000 members and more than $32 billion in funds under management, announced that in July it had disposed of all tobacco investments. UniSuper, which manages superannuation for higher education workers, was one of the first funds to get out of tobacco.
The Victorian government's investment management organisation, the Victorian Funds Management Corporation, has more than $100 million invested in tobacco, and has said it has no intention of getting rid of these investments.