Student activists want the Australian National University to release details of its $500 million share investment portfolio, after campus protests led to the ANU agreeing to sell its shares in a coal seam gas company.
The ANU's vice-chancellor Professor Ian Young announced the sell-off of about $1million worth of Metgasco shares in a statement to the ANU Students Association this week. But he's played down the role of student protests in forcing the move, telling The Canberra Times it was ''a pragmatic decision'' based on the worth of the shares.
''We've had those shares since 2001,'' Professor Young said.
''They represent less than 0.1 per cent of our total investment portfolio.''
Metgasco is a petroleum exploration company with licences covering almost 6000sqkm in the NSW northern rivers region. The company's recently discovered Kingfisher gas field near Lismore will be one of Australia's biggest onshore gas fields if development goes ahead.
ANU Environment Collective spokesman Tom Stanyer said members of the green activist group discovered the university was the company's 12th biggest shareholder after checking publicly available stock exchange information. The group now wants the ANU to list its complete share portfolio on its website.
''We want to see greater transparency around the ANU's investments ...'' Mr Stanyer said.
Coal seam gas exploration has drawn criticism from farm lobby groups, environmentalists and Federal Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce, who recently discovered his farm was an exploratory target for drilling.
Australian Ethical Investment head of strategy Paul Smith said student concerns about the ANU's investments was part of a national trend toward questioning the social and environmental values supported by shares and superannuation.
''It's not just green investments ... that are popular. There's been a massive rise in social justice investments,'' he said.