Australian Greens spokesperson, Senator Richard Di Natale, said today that the Australian Government is profiting at the expense of the developing world.
“New figures on returns from the Future Fund's tobacco investment show that the Australian Government is making windfall profits at the expense of the health of the world’s poorest people,” said Senator Di Natale.
A response from the Future Fund to a request from a Senate Committee shows that the government is getting an annual return of 8.3% on its investment in British American Tobacco, and 15.7% from its investment in Phillip Morris.
“With policies such as plain packaging, Australia is actively trying to reduce the level of smoking in this country. This ambition is shared by many other countries who are indeed now considering following in our footsteps with plain packaging.
“But Tobacco profits remain strong because smoking levels in the world’s poorest developing countries are skyrocketing, thanks to aggressive marketing strategies by Big Tobacco.
“Investing in companies like British American Tobacco and Phillip Morris both endorses and assists their strategy of getting the world’s poor hooked on their addictive product.
“It also cuts right across the funding and support we provide to achieve our international aid and development goals.
“In essence, the Future Fund has said that they are satisfied with making a profit from selling a deadly product to the world’s poor – the very same product they are trying to restrict here at home – so long as the profit is high enough.
“This is not the way for the Australian Government to make money and is certainly not how most Australians want their taxes invested.
“Thankfully this is an easy fix. I have a bill before the Parliament that would get the Future Fund out of and industry that relies on more people dying in the world's poorest countries in order to remain competitive.”
Media contact: Andrew Blyberg 0457 901 600