Queensland’s largest superannuation fund invests in nuclear weapons and depleted uranium

At a recent rally opposing the Australian government’s acquisition of nuclear submarines UQ Professor Marianne Hanson told us that QSuper had investments in nuclear weapons. Marianne Hanson teaches and researches in the field of international politics. She is also Vice-Chair of ICAN Australia – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons, and she spoke about the problems that nuclear submarines will pose to our efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.

The University of Queensland has a long history of involvement with the military industrial complex.

Sir Zelman Cowen at UQ brandishing a machine gun in the Great Court in the 1970s during the Vietnam War.

In the 1970s the then Vice Chancellor of the University of Queensland, Zelman Cowen, was happy to endorse the activities of the university regiment that supported the war in Vietnam. Cowen would call Ray Whitrod, the previous head of ASIO, whenever there was any anti-war activity such as occurred on one occasion in 1971, known as the Quang Incident resulting in Cowen several students expelling from the University. The Vice-Chancellors most famous words were ‘I hear what you say’ and then calling his mate, the police Commissioner.

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Today [1 Feb 2022] I received a call from the Media Relations officer of QSuper [Qld’s largest superannuation fund], asking me to take down the name of the Technical Officer who confirmed in an email that ““QSuper’s main basket of equities … with some tie to nuclear weapons, conventional (including depleted uranium), biological/chemical, or nuclear weapons systems and components.”  In the email, the QSuper technical officer claimed that these investments were small. The attached letter was signed by said officer and contained a warning about publication to third parties.

I asked this senior employee if QSuper’s investments were so small, why not get rid of them all together? He replied: “that is not my area of responsibility”. Therein lies the problem … who will take responsibility for QSuper’s million dollar investments in the weapons industry including dirty bombs and nuclear missiles? Who will take responsibility? The board? Many of those on the board are graduates of the University of Qld or have professional links with UQ.

Currently, the University of Queensland is heavily involved in the weapons industry. Local groups Wage Peace is campaigning next week against Boeing being on campus.

Concern about Boeing’s involvement in Indonesia’s putting down the West Papuan resistance.

UQ Professor Hanson later called on people who are members of QSuper to write to their super fund asking them to divest from the nuclear industry. What about the Senate of her University who back a partnership with Boeing involved in genocide in West Papua?

On 23 December 2021, a Technical Specialist at QSuper, confirmed the allegations by Marianne Hanson : “QSuper’s main basket of equities … with some tie to nuclear weapons, conventional (including depleted uranium), biological/chemical, or nuclear weapons systems and components.”

The technical officer claimed that these investments were small.

So if the investments are so small why not divest from nuclear weapons in particular and all weapons in general? Truth is the email sent and signed by the technical officer is a lie. QSuper invests $$millions in the arms industry. The phone call I received from the Media Relations manager of QSuper is a cover up, a smokescreen just like QSuper’s letter to members of the fund.

Brisbane (the capital of Queensland) is listed as a nuclear free zone. Brisbane was declared a nuclear-free zone in 1995 after becoming an inaugural member of the Australian Nuclear Free Zones Secretariat in 1983 at a meeting in the Sydney Town Hall of councils around Australia.

How can that be when QSuper at Central Plaza Three 70 Eagle Street, Brisbane is arranging its finances to support the nuclear weapons industry?

This is true of other government funds like Australia’s future fund investments of over $90m in weapons manufacturer Raytheon whose laser-guided bomb was used in an airstrike on a detention centre in Yemen this month killing nearly 100 civilians. This is despite Australia being party to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga) and is supposed to implement its obligations under this treaty through the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty Act 1986.

The question is what are retired workers with QSuper going to do about it? What are students and staff of the University going to do about Boeing?

Are pensioners going to picket QSuper offices and raise members awareness about QSuper’s investment portfolio? Are people going to divest from QSuper?

Where in the capitalist system is there a place for workers to put their hard earned pensions which are not contaminated with weapons of mass destruction and war?

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Ian Curr
23 December 2021

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