A group of Australia’s leading business people, investors and politicians including former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser has signed an open letter in The Canberra Times in support of Australian National University’s announcement to divest from seven mining companies. The divestment decision has been slammed in financial media and by government leaders including Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey, with unprecedented outrage.
The Australia Institute is organising for another open letter to be published in The Australian Financial Review, which has led vitriolic attacks on ANU, and is asking for support and donations at this website address.
Following is the text of the open letter in The Canberra Times:
We the undersigned support the Australian National University’s right to invest in, or divest from, any companies on environmental, social or ethical grounds.
We are investors and business people who have never been publicly challenged for selling shares in a company for reasons of conscience or financial risk management. Such decisions are standard practice and have been for generations. Self-interested voices calling “foul” only strengthen our resolve and, no doubt, that of ANU.
The ANU council’s decision to broaden the scope of companies that they will not invest in beyond tobacco is consistent with the approach of a growing number of investors around the world including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Stanford University. The decision is also consistent with the views of 82 per cent of ANU students and a number of staff.
We support the role of choice in the Australian economy and cannot understand why a government that is committed to deregulating the university sector would question the ability of a university to make investment decisions.
It is every investor’s right to make their own investment decisions without bullying from vested interests and government ministers. It is ANU’s obligation to invest responsibly, which includes thinking about their environmental social standards, how they impact on financial returns and how they reflect on the character of the institution.
The list of signatures include:
- Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH
- Professor John Hewson AM, Crawford School, ANU
- John & Sue McKinnon, directors, McKinnon Family Foundation
- Gary Seaton, Director, Energreen Nutrition Australia Pty Ltd
- David Deverall, CEO, Hunter Hall
- Phil Vernon, managing director, Australian Ethical Investment
- Simon O’Conno, CEO, Responsible Investment Association Australasia
- Simon Sheikh, Founder, Future Super
- James Thier, Director, Future Super
- Trevor Thomas, Managing Director, Ethinvest
- Caroline Le Couteur, Executive Director, Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility
- Howard Pender, Research Director, Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility
- Naomi Edwards, Chairman, Tasplan Super
- Bob Brown, Chair, Bob Brown Foundation
- Piers Grove, Exective Director, The Republic
- Gabrielle Duigu, Investor
- Dr Peter Barker, Super Fund Trustee
- Peter & Sue Kaldor, irectors, New River Leadership
- Jane Abercrombie, Chris Lock, Chief Executive Officer, Impact Investment Group
- Will Richardson, Chief Investment Officer, Impact Investment Group
- David Robinson, Investor
- Stuart Barry, Tas Ethical
- Kassia Klinger, Author, Confessions of Ethical Inve$ting
- Jonathan Shaw, Self-funded retiree
- Joy Scott, Investor
- Murray Scott, Trustee
- The Noble Family
- Graeme Wood AM, Investor
- Rob Purves AM, Director, RPG Management Pty Ltd
- Kit Holmes and Dr E J Silverstone
- Professor Hans-A. Bachor AM, Investor
- Dr Richard Stiles
- Dr Sharnie Wu
- Alex Dunnin, Executive Director of Research & Compliance, Rainmaker Group
- Hugh Saddler, Investor
- Dr Michael Henry, Managing Director, The Strategy Shop
- Steve Macdonald, Investment Director, Infi nitas Asset Management Ltd.
- Ross Knowles, Director, Ross Knowles Foundatoion
- Dr Peter Sainsbury & Dr Lynne Madden, Directors, Madden Sainsbury Foundation
- Josette Wunder, Director, Earth Welfare Foundation
- Tara Hunt, Director, The Hunt Foundation
- Sally Perini, Director, Pace Foundation
- Sarah Wright & Matthew Webb, Directors, Madirriny Foundation
- Sarah Stegley, Investor
- Diana Gibson, Investor
- Lindsay Peters, Trustee for Anderson-Peters Superannuation Fund
- Karen McLeod, Ethical Investment Advisers
- Steve Posselt, Managing Director, Kayak4earth Pty Ltd
- Sandi Keane, Investor
- Dr Bernadette Vogelzang, Trustee, Halcyon Super Fund
- Dan Mathews, Steve Mathews, Sue Mathews and Trudy Wyse, Trustees Mullum Trust
- Anne-Marie Spagnolo & Michelle Brisbane, Ethical Investment Services
- Dr Terry Lustig, Fellow, Institution of Engineers
- Dr Eileen Lustig, Director, Environmental Management Pty Ltd