How would you feel if your retirement plan was inadvertently built off the back of an industry designed to kill?
Despite research revealing that 80% of Australians would much rather have their superannuation invested through funds that make investment choices in light of “ethical principles”, the unfortunate reality is that an alarming proportion of Australians are effectively investing significant amounts of their wealth in the weapons manufacturing and trade industry every single day.
Whether it be $6.4 billion worth of investment in a Saudi Arabian weapons company, or growing support for investments in nuclear weaponry, many Australian super funds, industry super funds and industry super holdings are fuelling a silent war – which, in effect, is contributing towards mass destruction throughout communities around the world.
Although Australia may not be the first name that comes to mind when the term “weapons giant” arises, a handful of companies in the country are in fact actively profiting off their large defence contracts, as well as their support for the deployment of Australia’s military into global conflict zones over the last decade.
An ethical dilemma: Why it’s up to you
Under the pretext of acting in the “best interests” of their customers, many superannuation funds and pension funds invest in the military and weapons manufacturing sectors as a way of increasing the returns that members ultimately receive.
The sad truth is that despite the potential wide-scale effects of investments in such harmful industries, there is little regard paid by the Australian Government to the ethical principles that underlie the choices made by giant super funds.
Despite the Morrison Government last year trying to readjust Australia’s foreign policy from its previously heavy military involvement overseas – with the Prime Minister boldly stating, “We can never answer to a higher authority than the people of Australia” – financial institutions in Sydney, Melbourne and across Australia remain key investors in weapons manufacturing across the globe.
Indeed, the government is quite possibly more than a silent bystander that simply lets the “market decide”. Its reluctance to support the anti-nuclear Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that was introduced at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2017, is a sign of lacking leadership in this important space.
Between governments that don’t show the requisite leadership and super funds that have every incentive to invest in “growth industries” no matter the social cost, it comes down to individuals to make the right decisions with a holistic criteria in mind.
It is at the grassroots level then that change needs to happen. Everyday individuals, mums and dads – the ultimate customers of super funds’ ‘products’ – need to walk with their feet and help create pressure towards positive change. Making a choice for more ethically grounded superannuation funds that eschew weapons investments is the ultimate way of doing so.
Weapons: Destruction in numbers
When superannuation wealth is channelled into weaponry-related investments, it benefits not just manufacturers of these weapons, but the broader lobbies that dominate the sector. These are the clandestine corporate interests that help lobby and influence governments and defence departments to sign deals with weapons companies locally and abroad.
Saudi Arabia’s controversial stance on arms deals with controversial weapons, for example, has been a prominent discussion in the foreign policy of many nation-states.
The sheer scale of destruction this industry is responsible for are born out by the numbers that weapons-powered conflicts and wars attest to. The numbers speak for themselves:
- The physical suffering of millions of displaced civilians in Syria over the last decade, as well as countless more in other areas of the world;
- The wide scale casualties as a result of U.S. and Saudi Arabian-led war crimes in Yemen;
- The mental toll of veterans and service people – wherein, for instance, 20% of those involved in the Iraq War resulted in PTSD;
- The growing military budgets of countries large and small, often supported by nations such as the US which “boasts” a $738 billion budget in the 2020 fiscal year alone;
- War’s impact on climate change through mass emission of greenhouse gases into our planet’s atmosphere through weapons manufacture and use – which from 2001 to 2017 resulted in around 1.2 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gases being released. Beyond the physical and mental toll on humans, war and conflict are contributing to the destruction of our planet.
The choice you have
The adage that each and every one of our actions has the capacity to make an impact on those around us – no matter how small – is profoundly true when it comes to superannuation and where our wealth is invested.
The entire point of superannuation is to realise an increase in one’s wealth through careful investment into various types of assets and instruments. For a long time, Muslims in Australia had few choices if they wanted to make their super investment choices Shariah-compliant.
With the advent of Crescent Wealth Super, however, they have a real choice. As well as applying qualitative screening to potential investments, our Islamic investment methodology sees us undertake a quantitative screening before any investments are made. This includes filtering out in the investment portfolio any investments in armament-related industries or companies.
At Crescent Wealth Super and Crescent Group, we recognise that there is more to a superannuation investment than just the ideology of maximising wealth – especially if it potentially comes at the expense of the lives of others around the world. We aim to strike a balance between the basic ethical principles with the desire to prosper in a world where the dollar takes the crown. In doing so, we abide by our commitment to Islamic principles that encourage peace amongst humankind and prosperity built on ethical principles of investment and wealth creation.
By investing through Crescent Wealth Super Muslims in Australia finally have an option when it comes to ensuring their investments – and wealth – remains halal.
In 2013, Crescent Wealth Super became the first APRA regulated Islamic Shariah-compliant super-fund. With a ground-breaking investment strategy and led by competent fund managers, Crescent Wealth has swiftly risen to become one of the leading choices for Australian Muslims.
During these pressing times overshadowed by the COVID pandemic, it is paramount that Aussie Muslims start thinking about the future and begin to invest their retirement savings in financial services that prioritise ethical investment, sustainability and investment returns.
If you are interested in switching to a super fund that displays your Islamic values of ethical and responsible investment, call us on 1300 926 626.
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