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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Former Labor minister Greg Combet is to be the new chair of the Future Fund, replacing Peter Costello.

Combet, a member of parliament in 2007-2013, served in the industry and climate change and energy efficiency portfolios and in the Labor cabinet. Before entering parliament he was ACTU secretary.

The Future Fund is the country’s sovereign wealth fund, established by the Coalition government in 2006 to strengthen Australia’s financial position. It is Australia’s largest financial asset. At the end of last year it had $272 billion in assets under management.

It is responsible for a number of other sovereign wealth funds including the Medical Research Future Fund, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund, the Future Drought Fund, the Disaster Ready Fund, the DisabilityCare Australia Fund and the Housing Australia Future Fund.

Costello, who as treasurer set up the fund, served two terms as chair, and was on its board before that.

Last year Albanese government appointed Combet as chair of a Net Zero Economy Agency, a position he will soon quit before taking the fund chairmanship mid-year. His term is for five years.

Since leaving parliament Combet has been prominent in the superannuation industry. In 2018 he became chair of Industry Super Australia.

Announcing the appointment, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said Combet had “a distinguished career and extensive experience in investment and superannuation, government and the climate and energy transformation”.

He said Combet had served as Chair of IFM Investors, a Trustee of AustralianSuper and Superannuation Trust of Australia. He had broad experience as a non-executive director in the financial sector.

“He is the perfect appointment to take the Future Fund into the future,” Chalmers said

Mary Reemst becomes acting chair of the Future Fund until Combet takes over.

Chalmers also announced Nicola Wakefield Evans and Rosemary Vilgan as part-time members of the Fund’s board for five-year terms.

He said Wakefield Evans had extensive experience in capital markets, corporate finance, the energy sector and corporate law. She was a partner for more than 20 years at King & Wood Mallesons and served with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Vilgan had a background in investment and a range of board experience; she is currently the Chair of Commonwealth Bank Officers Superannuation Corporation .

“These two new member appointments will increase the representation of women on the Future Fund and continue the government’s strong track record of appointing women to senior roles in Australia’s most important economic and financial institutions,” Chalmers said.

“The appointments will help refresh and renew the Fund and help maintain the high level of skills and experience on the Board.”

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. Former Labor minister Greg Combet to succeed Peter Costello as chair of the Future Fund –