Government taps private investors for net zero, defence

The federal government has pledged to look at ways to leverage $2.5 trillion in capital from superannuation funds and big banks for clean energy, defence and social spending.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers hosted a roundtable with executives in Canberra on Tuesday, following similar gatherings on other issues last November and April this year.

Dr Chalmers is seeking to unlock greater private investment in national priority areas, including the net zero transformation, defence and social impact investment.

Among those attending are ANZ chief Shayne Elliot, Australian Super chief Paul Schroder, Australian Investment Council boss Navleen Prasad and HESTA chief Debby Blakey.

“It’s all about trying to align what’s good for investors and superannuation fund members with what’s good for our communities and what’s good for our country more broadly,” Dr Chalmers told reporters.

“This is all about making sure that capital is flowing in ways that modernise our economy and maximise our advantages in a really important time for the future of our economy and our people.”

Dr Chalmers said the government was not contemplating changing the “best interest” test for super funds as that would interfere with their primary responsibility to members.

However, he said it was possible to get a “win-win” by aligning super funds’ obligations to their members “with our national economic priorities”.

“The net zero transformation is a massive industrial opportunity for this country – investors recognise it, the government recognises that, and we believe we will do better if we work together.”

It was possible the “performance test”, which regulators conduct on an annual basis, could be redesigned in a way that “did not deter investment in important areas”, Dr Chalmers said.

Suggestions from IFM Investors, such as production credits for sustainable aviation fuel and concessional finance for energy transmission, would also be examined, he said.

“We think it’s unlikely that a government could do all of those things that they have proposed but it might be possible for us to do some of them, after we carefully consider it.”


Paul Osborne
(Australian Associated Press)


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