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Future Fund could have a budget role

Reported by AAP
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
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Future Fund chairman David Murray says the federal government could use money from the fund to stabilise the budget, if the rules governing the fund are changed.

Mr Murray said the way that the Future Fund was formulated made it a long-term fund only.

The fund was set up to fund $140 billion of uncovered superannuation liabilities by 2020.

"A government at any time, can give the Future Fund some further role if it wanted to, with other money," Mr Murray told reporters after addressing an Australian Institute of Company Directors' luncheon in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Mr Murray said however that there was no suggestion at this stage that the formulation of the Future Fund would change.

"But there has been a lot of discussion publicly, including from the governor of the Reserve Bank (Glenn Stevens), about the possibility of Australia having a stabilisation fund.

"My point is that the Future Fund as an institution could be used to take up that role."

Mr Murray said the Future Fund could take on the role, provided that some of the fund's strengths were not diminished such as its clarity of purpose and institutional arrangements.

Mr Murray said that before the fund were to take on such a role the federal government's budget would have to be back in surplus.

"Generally, that's the case because it would not normally be appropriate, I think, for a government to borrow money and then invest in the markets," he said.

"On the other hand, we have had in the past where the government, when it has significant surpluses, decided to issue bonds to keep the bond market here.

"But apart from that need, the general rule is surpluses or designated streams of money that should flow to a savings fund or a stabilisation fund."

Mr Murray also said there should be no disadvantage to the states setting up there own savings fund based upon the royalties they collect from the mining boom.

He said the states may wish to have a savings fund to compensate for the eventual depletion of resources in the mining sector.

"It's the states who earn the royalties, so unless the commonwealth/state financial arrangements do not penalise a state for saving that money, there is no current incentive for them to put it aside."

Mr Murray said he was from New South Wales were they kept digging up coal and shipping it somewhere.

"Even though coal will last a long time, I'd like to know that some future activity will replace it."

23/10/2014 11:39Sydney, Australia. 23 October,2014
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