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NZ Super Fund invests $100m in nukes etc

29 September 2008

NZ Super Fund invests $100m in nukes etc

The Green Party is challenging the New Zealand Super Fund's statement today that they no longer invest in ethically compromised companies such as those engaged in nuclear weapons manufacture.

The Super Fund said today: "the Fund does not hold investments in any firm involved in the manufacture of nuclear explosive devices".

"However, in response to my written question (08040, 2008) the NZ Super Fund revealed that, as of August 31, it still holds $41.9m holdings in a series of companies that the Norwegian Pension Fund excludes because they are involved in developing and/or producing central components for nuclear weapons," Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman says.

The Norwegian Pension Fund is the second biggest sovereign fund in the world, worth NZ$500 billion, and has signed up to the same set of United Nations ethical investment guidelines as the NZ Super Fund.

"The Norwegian Pension Fund excluded BAE, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell and United Technologies because it found they were involved in developing and/or producing central components for nuclear weapons.

"The NZ Super Fund is dancing on a pin to try to justify their investments in these companies. How can it not damage our reputation as a nuclear free nation when we invest in those companies making money out of making nuclear weapons?

"In total the NZ Super Fund has around $100m worth of investments in companies that the Norway Pension Fund shuns because of ethical reasons (see list below)."

The NZ Super Fund claimed today that "responsible investment is an important focus for us. We are proud of our achievements".

"Are they proud of their investments in companies that the Norway Fund found were causing severe environmental damage such as Rio Tino and Freeport? Is making money by pumping 230,000 tonnes of tailings into a river system every day something to be proud of?

"The Fund has lost a lot of money for reasons beyond its control. But it is also damaging our international reputation as a good citizen and that is within its control and the control of the Government," says Dr Norman.

ENDS


Background information on NZ Super Fund

Ethical Investment & the NZ Super Fund
Cullen's response to our Written Question demonstrates that the Government continues to invest just over $100 million in companies that countries like Norway have deliberately excluded and divested 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.) Note: Valuations and holdings are correct at August 31, 2008.

Severe Environmental Damage from Mining
Rio Tinto ($17.4M) & Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold ($0.8M) Rio Tinto is directly involved in, through its participation in the Grasberg mine in Indonesia, creating severe environmental damage. Each day, 230,000 tonnes of tailings poured directly 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. The mine is joint venture with Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.

Human and Labour Rights Violations
Wal-Mart ($25.2M)
Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer, posting a turnover of US$285 billion in 2005. Wal-Mart is implicit in violations of human rights and labour rights in its business operations. At $25.2M, Wal-Mart represents one of the NZ Super Fund's most significant single investments.

Cluster Bombs
Poongsan Holding ($0.6M), European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company ($2.1M), Lockheed Martin Corp. ($9.1M), Raytheon Co. ($2.8), and Thales SA. ($0.7M) 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, Norway, and a number of other nations have been pressing for a mandate to restrict the use of cluster munitions. Why do we therefore invest $15.3 million in companies that manufacture them?

Nuclear Weapons
BAE Systems ($8.3M), Boeing Co. ($4.4M), Honeywell International ($9.1M), Northrop Grumman Corp. ($16.7M), United Technologies Corp. ($3.4M) 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. The NZ Super Fund currently invests $42 million in companies that develop and/or produce central components for nuclear weapons.

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