Australia’s Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt has announced an inquiry into the financial sector’s treatment of Australia’s resources industry.
The move follows suggestions that two major super funds, QSuper and Sunsuper, should abandon coal investment options.
The suggestions were amplified by the Australian Conservation Council to push coal divestment from super funds members.
“The Conservation Council says around 200 members have written to the funds calling on them to stop investing in coal which is about 0.01 per cent of QSuper and Sunsuper’s combined membership,” Pitt said.
“To deprive over 1.88 million other members of solid investment returns on the whim of a relative few and the ideological motives of the Conservation Council is farcical.”
Mining giant BHP announced last year that it would be divesting its thermal coal portfolio, which might take two years to complete.
However, coal mines including New Hope Group’s stage three development at the New Acland operation in Queensland has continued to face approval and legal issues.
South32’s move to extend the mine life of the Dendrobium mine in New South Wales was also blocked by the New South Wales Government Independent Planning Commission (IPC).
“Several major resource companies have plans for new coal mines and expansion to existing ones and Australian superannuation funds should be free to support, and invest in, a legitimate and productive Australian industry,” Pitt said.
The minister has requested that Parliament’s Trade and Investment Growth Committee should hold an inquiry into the financial sector’s treatment of Australian export industries, which includes the resources sector.
“There are over 260 thousand hard-working Australians who are directly employed by the resources industry, and over a million more whose jobs are supported by the sector.
“They deserve better than to miss out on further opportunities as a result of ideologically-driven activism,” Pitt said.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), coal will remain as India’s sole source of electricity until 2040, opening the door to further Australian coal exports to south east Asian countries.