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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 September 2010) . . Page.. 4252 ..

includes activities such as renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, water conservation, recycling and environmental protection, education, social housing and health services, the alleviation of poverty and community support programs as well as disability and social inclusion services.

The draft bill requires that these investments must be prudent in the contemporary financial environment and sets up a reasonable and proportionate mechanism for promoting investment in these activities. The draft bill sends a meaningful message to the community and other investors that the ACT is a jurisdiction that will take active steps to invest in ethical, sustainable and responsible ways. I do not pretend for a second that it is an investment panacea. Returns will not be magical. These investments traditionally are lower risk and there is an investment premium for that. However, as I have said, there is no reason to expect the returns to be any lower. In fact, the reasonable expectation is that they will be slightly better.

It is, however, certain that it is the right thing to do. It sends a clear message as to what the ACT does not want to be involved in and what we do. It recognises that there is an opportunity cost to our investments, that for every dollar we have in an unsustainable industry that is harming people and the environment we could be investing in something positive that encourages innovation in industries that will benefit the community.

The list of prohibition represents some mainstream ethical funds and issues already identified by the ACT Treasury. There is a significant proportion of the community who find it unethical to invest in these industries or practices. I welcome and encourage debate on each of the proposed prohibited investments and the list of proposed positive initiatives.

The evidence is that from a purely economic point of view we will do at least the same, if not better, if we invest ethically. The historical averages are available over a very long period of time, and they all suggest that the proposed changes will not cost the ACT and are in fact likely to improve our financial position. I encourage again everyone in the community and in the Assembly to participate in the debate.

Reference to Standing Committee on Public Accounts

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Health and Minister for Industrial Relations) (10.34), by leave: I move:

That the exposure draft of the Financial Management (Ethical Investment) Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 be referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts for inquiry and report.

I will speak to the motion briefly. I do apologise for not speaking to members of the committee earlier, but I have had a brief discussion with them. I understand that they have a very busy business plan ahead of them in that standing committee, but I do think that the issues covered in the exposure draft of this legislation are complex ones. I do believe that the Assembly, when it comes to debate the legislation brought before

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