AUSTRALIA - The Australian Labor party is looking at directing some of the country's superannuation funds towards infrastructure investments as a means of developing the infrastructure industry.
In a speech to the Australian Council for Infrastructure Development, Opposition leader Kim Beazley (pictured) said some infrastructure projects could offer low risk, long term rate of return that would make them appropriate to superannuation fund portfolios.
“I certainly would not contemplate government either strong-arming super funds or interfering with their investment decisions,” he said.
“I do, however, believe that we should remove any obstacles to super funds investing in Australian infrastructure projects.
“We need to see whether there are any obstacles which can be removed to help make long term investments in infrastructure projects a more attractive proposition so we will be examining any tax and regulatory issues that influence private sector participation in infrastructure development.”
However the move has been criticised by Mal Brough, minister for revenue and federal assistant treasurer, who accused Beazley of wanting to “siphon off” super savings to fund infrastructure projects for his own political gain.
“Labor leader Kim Beazley… is putting his own political aspirations ahead of the nation’s AUS$650bn in retirement savings,” he said.
“There is absolutely nothing stopping superannuation funds from investing in infrastructure projects right now if they think it represents a valuable return for members.”
Brough said the proposal was based on the “false premise” that a substantial proportion of super investment goes overseas, when in fact more than 80% was invested domestically.
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