Matthew Raggatt

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr  wants to  end the government’s shareholding in about 60 major fossil fuel companies if they don’t meet strict environmental criteria.

The shift followed the amendment of a motion at the Labor Party’s conference on Saturday to sell-off all investment in the companies.


The Labor Party has also made it easier for new members to be pre-selected, cutting the qualifying membership time in half ahead of the expansion election next year.

The flagged reduction in minimum membership period to one year to qualify to stand for preselection opens the door for a number of recognisable faces. These include Mr Fluffy campaigner Brianna Heseltine and Deepak-Raj Gupta – as the party looks for 25 candidates.

ACT Labor secretary Matt Byrne said the motion for the change was moved by Mr Barr, who said the party needed to reflect the community.

“There was definitely a recognition that for too long the party has had a narrow definition of activism,” Mr Byrne said.

A motion for the government to “responsibly divest over a five-year period from companies that are listed in the Carbon Underground Top 200 list published by Fossil Free Indexes” was amended as part of debate on the floor.

A spokesman for Mr Barr said the government would revise its environmental criteria for its shareholding, then adjust investments in coming months.

“Once the additional criteria in relation to fossil fuel and carbon risk exposure is implemented, the result will be a material reduction in exposure to companies with high carbon emissions, carbon intensity and coal reserves of about 60 companies,” he said.

Mr Barr would not name individual companies, but promised earlier in the day the divestment from high-carbon emitting companies and sectors would occur “without costing the Canberra community a single cent”.

The  government’s superannuation provisions fund was worth an estimated $3.6 billion in the last budget, but it was not known what part of this the shares in major fossil fuel companies, including Exxon Mobil, Whitehaven Coal, Peabody, Glencore, Anglo American and Santos, were worth.

On a smaller scale, Mr Byrne said the conference’s major overhaul of the party’s membership fee structure – from annual to monthly fees – was expected to double takings in a year, now worth $60,000 to $80,000.

“It builds some integrity into our branch,” he said. “It lessens the need for our branch of the party to go chasing donations.”

Fees would be on a sliding scale on income, with many paying $10 to $15 per month.

Extracted in full from:  canberratimes.com.au