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The smell of uranium on the Government’s breath

The smell of uranium on the Government’s breath

Green Media Release

30th October 2006

The Green Party is calling for the New Zealand Super Fund to end its investments in uranium mining. Although the Labour-led Government says it is against nuclear power and weapons, the Green Party is dismayed that this hasn’t stopped the Government-owned New Zealand Superannuation Fund from investing in uranium mining, and benefiting from any expansion in nuclear power.

“The NZ Super Fund has $13.5 million invested in BHP Billiton shares in Australia and the UK. BHP owns the world’s biggest uranium deposit, Olympic Dam in Australia,” Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman says.

“The NZ Super Fund has a further $17.8 million invested in Rio Tinto in Australia and the UK. Rio Tinto is the majority owner of Energy Resources Australia, which operates the Ranger uranium mines in Australia and is the world’s third biggest uranium producer.

“The Government-owned Super Fund is a beneficiary of nuclear power even as the Government says that nuclear power is not the way to go.

“We agree with the Government that nuclear power is unsustainable, given the dangers of a Chernobyl type meltdown, the difficulty of disposing of the waste, and no known way of dismantling the old reactors. The near-meltdown in July at the Forsmark reactors in Sweden shows that even state of the art reactors are unsafe.

“But then why is the Government Fund investing in the nuclear industry?

“And given that nuclear energy is intimately connected to nuclear weapons, as the example of North Korea’s nuclear program has demonstrated, how can the Government stand up on the world stage condemning nuclear weapons while investing in uranium mining?

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“It’s not good enough for NZ Super Fund head Paul Costello to say if it’s legal it’s okay. The Fund is committed to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment, which means accounting for the environmental impacts of uranium and coal mining.

“The Labour-led Government says it’s opposed to nuclear power and weapons. I can only repeat David Lange’s famous line from the 1985 Oxford Union debate: "… hold your breath for one moment, I can smell the uranium on it as you lean forward."

ENDS

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