Superfund continues to invest in nuclear weapons (New Zealand)


Four months after a commitment to divest the New Zealand Superfund from companies involved in manufacturing nuclear weapons and cluster bombs, the Green Party today called on the Government to set a deadline to sell its remaining $25 million investment.


(04.03.2009)

"Prime Minister John Key should set a date by which the New Zealand Superfund will no longer invest in companies that manufacture cluster bombs and nuclear weapons," said Green Party Co-Leader, Russel Norman.

"New Zealand is a signatory to an international treaty banning cluster bombs and famous for our nuclear-free stance. We will prejudice our reputation as a responsible member of the world community if we continue to profit from unethical investment."

A response to a Green Party Written Question revealed that, as of February 19, 2009, the Superfund held investments in companies other nations have deemed to be "unethical" under the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment - the same set of investment principles the Superfund adheres to. At least 25 other nations are signatories to these principles.

The New Zealand Superfund has investments in BAE Systems ($10.9M), Boeing ($3.6M), United Technologies ($7.0M), European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) Company ($1.1M), and Thales SA. ($1.9M) - companies intimately involved in the manufacture of cluster bombs and nuclear weapons.
"While the Green Party supports constructive engagement with companies as a positive means to achieve ethical outcomes, it's unlikely to be effective with the likes of multinational giants like Boeing and the EADS," Dr Norman said. "There comes a time when you just have to do the right thing and divest, just like Norway did three years ago."

The Superfund moved in December to divest some of their investments in cluster and nuclear weapons manufacturers but stopped short of full divestment citing technical distinctions between manufacturers of nuclear components versus manufacturers of nuclear delivery systems: "It's nonsense to try and separate a nuclear weapon from its delivery system."

The Green Party also strongly recommends the Superfund divest from a small number of additional companies blacklisted internationally for serious environmental damage and for systematic violations of human rights and labour rights. This brings the total amount invested unethically by the fund to $52 million.

A detailed listing of all involved companies is attached.

ENDS

Green Party Update:

Ethical Investment & the NZ Super Fund

The New Zealand Government continues to invest just over $51 million in companies that countries like Norway have deliberately excluded from their investment universe. (Norway and New Zealand have both signed up to the same set of ethical guidelines for investment agreed to by the UN.) All valuations are correct as of February 19, 2009.

Nuclear Weapons

BAE Systems ($10.9M), Boeing Co. ($3.6M), United Technologies Corp. ($7.0M)

New Zealand's position on nuclear weapons and the fundamental humanitarian principles they violate is well established. Yet our outward position is not matched by our Government's investment behaviour.

Cluster Bombs

European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company ($1.1M), Thales SA. ($1.9M)

These companies have been identified for producing cluster munitions or key components for cluster bombs (bomb containers, bomblets, and other components essential for the functioning of the weapon.) Cluster bombs are weapons that, through their normal use, violate fundamental humanitarian principles. New Zealand is now a signatory to an international treaty banning cluster bombs.

Severe Environmental Damage from Mining

Rio Tinto ($1.8M), Barrick Gold ($1.4M), Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold ($0.9M)

Rio Tinto's Grasberg mine in Indonesia pours 230,000 tonnes of tailings (or debris) every day into the Aikwa riverine system and Arafura Sea. Some 130-230 square kilometres of lowland areas along the Aikwa River are saturated with copper and sediment, leading to a near total collapse of the marine ecosystem there. Barrick is the largest producer of gold in the world. Their Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea is causing irreversible damage to the natural environment as their riverine disposal practice is in breach of international norms.

Human and Labour Rights Violations

Wal-Mart ($22.8M)

Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer, posting a turnover of US$285 billion in 2005. An extensive body of material indicates that Wal-Mart consistently and systematically: employs minors in contravention of international rules, provides working conditions at many of its suppliers that are dangerous, pressures workers into working overtime without compensation, discriminates against women in pay, and blocks any attempts by the company's employees to unionise.

Press Release: Green Party

Von: 04.03.2009, www.scoop.co.nz

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