Treasurer Joe Hockey hopes to announce a permanent chairman for the Future Fund soon, but says acting chair Peter Costello is doing a “great job”.
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey believes Peter Costello is well qualified to become the permanent chairman of the Future Fund, but the appointment is still going through a process.
The nation’s longest serving federal treasurer set up the fund, which now stands at close to $97 billion, in 2006 to cover future liabilities for public servant superannuation.
Mr Costello has been acting chairman since January 11 after David Gonski resigned to become chairman of ANZ Bank, and there are expectations he will become a permanent fixture.
Mr Hockey hopes to make an announcement as soon as possible but says Mr Costello is doing a “great job” as acting chairman.
“Given he set it up, given he put the money into it, I think he’s well qualified to head it up but we’ll leave it to the process,” Mr Hockey told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.
Mr Costello has been a member of the fund’s board since 2009, but his term is due to end in April.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said he hopes more Australians than just Liberal Party mates get new jobs in 2014.
“The Abbott government appears more focused on where to appoint the next Liberal Party mate while the likes of Holden and SPC and thousands of Australian jobs go to the wall,” Mr Bowen told AAP.
The agency’s outgoing managing director Mark Burgess was quizzed during a teleconference on the fund’s performance over 2013 on what impact Mr Costello’s possible appointment would make.
“I would be very surprised if our model changes the way we position the fund, or the way we are thinking,” Mr Burgess said.
Global efforts to lift economic activity helped the fund post sharp growth of 17.2 per cent to $96.56 billion in 2013.
It supported a decision by the agency at the beginning of last year to switch a significant amount of investment into equities instead of debt securities.
“The rationale for that was that the significant opportunities that we had identified in credit (instruments) … had largely played out,” chief investment office David Neal told the conference.
Equities presented the “more interesting” opportunity.
The result is well beyond its mandate of inflation plus 4.5 to 5.5 per cent a year.
Since it was established with government contributions of $60.5 billion the fund has made a return of 6.9 per cent a year, just shy of its long-term target of 7.2 per cent a year.
During the past five years the fund has generated 10.6 per cent a year.
However, Mr Burgess warned the high rate of return would be more difficult to extract in the future.
“Many of the factors behind it are already priced into the asset classes.”