Investors seek better Indigenous relations in Australia

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(Bloomberg) — The company, which represents the managers of more than $700 million of the Australian Pension Fund, has told the companies it invests in to improve its relationships with Indigenous communities.

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The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors wants firms to build strong relationships with people in First Nations and ensure they have free, prior and informed consent about the life of a project on their land in accordance with updated engagement guidelines. The company advises local and global investors, including the country’s largest pension fund, AustralianSuper.

Failure to respect their rights could result in significant human, social and financial costs, including project delays, litigation and impact on the company’s reputation, the statement said.

This is the first time that ACSI has added First Nations issues to its biennial engagement guidelines to examine companies on environmental, social and governance issues. Last year, he helped investors pressure senior Rio Tinto Group executives to step down after miners blew up a rock shelter used by Aboriginal Australians for cooking 46,000 years ago.

“Over the past two years, we have seen the financial impact that can occur when companies mismanage ESG issues,” said ACSI CEO Lewis Davidson. “Our guidelines seek to promote better ESG performance by listed companies.”

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About the author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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