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Albanese urges super funds to invest -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government has asked cashed up superannuation funds to unlock their
billions for capital works projects across the nation.

The Minister for Infrastructure, Industry and Regional Development, Anthony Albanese, has been
meeting super fund managers to try to persuade them to invest in fast-tracked infrastructure
projects.

Mr Albanese is stressing the social dividend of such investment, telling Alexandra Kirk that it
will help build Australia's economic, social and environmental prosperity.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well it's quite clear that the demands on infrastructure over coming years are
going to be far greater than that can be achieved by public sector investment alone; so we want to
mobilise private sector capital. Obviously there are severe constraints on that at the moment in
the short term.

But we also want to mobilise superannuation investment. We have some $1.2-trillion in these
superannuation funds at the moment, and of course there is a natural fit in terms of the long-term
nature of those superannuation investments and the long-term of infrastructure investment.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: What reaction have you got from the super funds so far to your plea?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well super funds themselves are telling us that when they talk to their
superannuants, after all it's their money, they are very keen to see their funds invested here in
nation building rather than overseas or perhaps in equity markets. So it's not surprising of course
because it provides potentially a good return to superannuants.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: What sort of return?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well it depends on each project of course. And trustees of superannuation funds
have an obligation to ensure there is maximum return to the superannuants.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: At the same time though, there is a new poll commissioned by the Climate Institute
which shows that the majority of people, 56 per cent, would like their super fund to invest in
solutions to climate change such as clean energy. So are you worried that maybe people see nation
building behind climate change as an investment opportunity?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well there is a direct link of course between nation building and the response to
climate change. Part of the solution is the carbon pollution reduction scheme, having a
market-based mechanism. But part of the solution is also infrastructure. If we're going to change
the design of our cities for example and deal with issues such as urban congestion there's nothing
that's as bad for the environment as a car stuck in a traffic jam, going nowhere, making emissions.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Government is pledging to fast-track some nation building capital works. What
sort of projects will be in the first big push?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Road, rail, ports and broadband are a priority. We know that our ports are
congested. We know that urban congestion is a huge issue in our cities. So Infrastructure Australia
is currently undertaking a proper cost benefit analysis of the proposals that it's received.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Is it perhaps more a case of what the super funds can do for the economy and help
shield it against recessionary effects of the global financial crisis, rather than what
infrastructure can do for super funds?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No. I think that it won't work if it's an either-or proposition. It must be in
the interests of both superannuation funds, and at the end of the day superannuants; and also in
the interests of the nation building agenda that the Government wishes to pursue.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: If super funds don't take up your idea and the private sector shies away because of
scarce credit currently, is the Government prepared to go it alone on capital works investment?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well the Government is committed to nation building. We'll have a look at the
situation in December when we receive the report from Infrastructure Australia and certainly part
of the consideration of infrastructure investment are the macroeconomic circumstances of the time.

That's why we established the Infrastructure Australia agenda. That's why we'll be introducing
legislation soon to create the Building Australia Fund.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Minister for Infrastructure, Industry and Regional Development, Anthony
Albanese, speaking to Alexandra Kirk.