Why Lonsec investment analyst Tony Adams is running for the Greens in Bennelong
A Lonsec spokesman said Mr Adams’s views and candidacy are “personal” and he is not acting as a representative of the firm.
Mr Adams considers his chances of winning Bennelong slim – the Greens won 9.5 per cent of votes in the 2019 election. But he wants to fight for the climate after completing his Diploma of Sustainability, which highlighted to him the gravity of the global warming situation. He’s now studying for his Master of Environmental Science.
Businesses need a price on carbon, so they can operate with more certainty and make more solid plans for decarbonisation, he said. However, both major parties’ plans to achieve net zero by 2050 lack detail on how they will achieve net zero, and the roles and requirements of firms in the transition, he added.
“It’s almost like companies are trying to get there and consumers clearly care, but there’s no support, guidance or leadership,” he said.
“I’m just trying to do what I can to try and bring everyone onto the same page.”
Without a clear framework on how Australia will decarbonise, Mr Adams believes the corporate sector faces the risk of a rapid, expensive and unwieldy transition when the world reaches crisis levels of heating and pollution.
Questioned whether it’s unusual for someone whose job revolves around wealth creation and company growth to hold these views, Mr Adams said he doesn’t believe the Greens’ wealth tax policy or net zero goals are necessarily at odds with his role in the finance sector.
“I don’t think they do go against each other because I think the way that our tax system currently is, is just not fair. It’s not fair that major mining companies pay less tax than my wife who’s a nurse, ”he said.
The Greens propose a 6 per cent wealth tax on the net wealth of Australia’s billionaires. The party estimates the tax – which would be levied on around 122 Australians – would raise $ 40 billion over the medium term.
They also propose a Corporate Super-Profits Tax of 40 per cent to be levied on non-mining corporations with turnovers of more than $ 100 million, and on a discretionary basis against mining projects. The tax would be applied to net revenue after income tax and a fair return to shareholders.
“Nobody wants to pay more taxes, everybody gets that, but there is certainly a push particularly from an ESG perspective around people paying their fair share of tax – multinational corporations and mega-companies,” Mr Adams.
The tax plan rests easily within the finance sectors’ responsibility to assess the performance and sustainability of the firms they’re investing in, he added.
“Fund managers are actually looking at, ‘Well, is this company behaving ethically and appropriately? Minimizing tax but not avoiding tax altogether? ‘ That’s what they’ve been doing.
“A lot of [large companies] just don’t pay any tax and investors are saying, ‘Hey, that’s not sustainable from an ethical perspective. It’s not sustainable from a regulatory perspective, and it’s not sustainable from a license to operate perspective ‘. ”
He said those companies will eventually lose their licenses to operate, leaving shareholders, the Australian public and the environment carrying the cost.
Some industry sources suggested Mr Adams running on a Greens ticket presented a conflict of interest, given his day job supports private sector fund managers who profit from the unequal allocation of resources.
But Mr Adams rejected the suggestion, arguing that managed funds providers need to up their green credentials.
“I’m trying to identify where that conflict is. Because what I’m looking for is… to what extent are investment managers incorporating these [ESG] factors into their investment decisions. I’m not making a call on whether they should be buying this stock, or that stock.
“I’m not even looking at that. I’m looking at their process and how robust their process is. The question comes down to, ‘Should analysts be looking at ESG risks when they make investment decisions?’ The answer is clearly yes, they should. ”