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9 May 2024

Daniel Hurst, The Guardian

Australia: Cbus to review investment policy following union pressure to 'urgently divest' from firms supplying weapons & military technology to Israel

"Cbus reviews investments after union pressure to ‘urgently divest’ from firms supplying arms to Israel", 9 May 2024

One of Australia’s largest super funds, Cbus, will review its investment policy after the construction union urged it to divest from companies supplying Israel with weapons and military technology.

...the fund’s investment committee will meet next week to consider the concerns raised by the CFMEU, which is one of the sponsors of Cbus and appoints a minority of the directors on its board.

The CFMEU has been in dialogue with Cbus about the matter, with the union arguing “industry super funds should not be funding genocide”...

The CFMEU is calling for all Australian industry super funds, which account for $1.3tn of retirement savings, to divest of investments in companies alleged to be enabling or profiting from the war in Gaza.

The CFMEU’s national secretary, Zach Smith, began the dialogue with Cbus by formally requesting a report on its investments. The union then identified several investments that the CFMEU said were of concern.

“We’ve told Cbus in no uncertain terms it must urgently divest of all shares in companies like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon/RTX,” Smith told Guardian Australia...

Lockheed Martin has said it is “proud of the significant role it has fulfilled in the security of the state of Israel”.

Lockheed Martin, a major defence contractor headquartered in the US, has supplied the Israeli military with F-35 fighter jets, rockets and radar systems.

RTX Corporation...previously known as Raytheon, has also responded to concerns from some of its shareholders about its sale of weapons to Israel.

RTX said the company was committed to complying “with the laws of the US and all the countries where we do business” and all exports of military equipment was “subject to an exacting US government review and approval process”.

A spokesperson for Cbus Super said the fund “acknowledges the community concern over the conflict and loss of life in Gaza and Israel”.

It said the investments identified by the CFMEU “equate to approximately 0.01% of our total funds under management”.

“However, we understand that even a small holding in the current climate may cause concern,” the Cbus spokesperson told Guardian Australia...

Cbus confirmed it was now reviewing the policy to ensure it was “responsive to our members’ concerns”.