THE newest federal cabinet minister, Chris Bowen, has set out an ambitious plan for Sydney to lure Islamic finance in a quest to beat the global recession and attract wealth and jobs.
Mr Bowen said Sydney was under-selling itself as a financial services hub for Asia. "I think there’s great opportunities such as Islamic finance," he said. "The majority of the world’s Islamic population lives in Asia, and Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are trying to corner this market for themselves and I think Australia can play a role. Even if we only take a small percentage of the market it could generate a lot of wealth and a lot of jobs in Australia."
Mr Bowen said Islamic finance investors were not allowed to earn interest but could make a profit. They also did not invest in alcohol, gambling or weapons.
"You couldn’t put your money into a normal interest-bearing account but there are plenty of products designed in such a way to make those investments.
"This is just one example of the untapped opportunities out there for Australia. We are very good at managing money, and in superannuation we have the fourth-largest pool of funds under management in the world. We’ve developed really good skills but we don’t export those skills."