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Future Fund must seek urgent legal advice on nuclear weapons – and divest

The Federal Government's Future Fund is clearly violating its own policies and cutting across Australia's international legal obligations by investing in companies that manufacture nuclear weapons, the Australian Greens said today.

Under questioning in Senate estimates hearings this morning, the Acting General Manager and Chief Investment Officer of the Future Fund disclosed that the Fund had not sought legal advice before defending its $135.4 million investment in nuclear weapons manufacturers.

Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam said the Future Fund has a policy of investing in companies whose "economic activity is legal in Australia and does not contravene international conventions to which Australia is a signatory". These investments are held on behalf of public servants, judges and members of Parliament.

Section 13 of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty Act states it is illegal to "facilitate the manufacture, production, acquisition or testing" of nuclear weapons by any person or company, whether in Australia or not.

Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty - to which Australia is a signatory - obliges nuclear weapons states to abolish them, and a 1996 International Court of Justice decision held that use or possession of nuclear weapons is generally illegal at international law.

“The Future Fund has invested more than $135 million in 15 companies producing nuclear weapons for the United States, Britain, France and India. Successive Indian governments have refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the Australian Government has rightly refused to sell uranium to that country, yet the Future Fund has been funding the production of nuclear weapons in India.”

"The Future Fund was applauded for divesting in cluster munitions manufacturers. The Fund's investments in nuclear weapons are clearly untenable.

"The board must seek urgent legal advice and promptly reconsider this investment decision."

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