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Friday, August 26

Super Fund found investing in illegal cluster bombs

The Green Party has discovered the New Zealand Superannuation Fund is investing in cluster bomb manufacturers - a practice likely to contravene the Government's commitments under the international convention on cluster munitions.

Answers to parliamentary written questions lodged by the Green Party have revealed that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund currently invests $2.5 million in five companies that have involvement in the production of cluster bombs, despite the Fund's stated intention in December 2008 to divest from all such companies.

The companies are: GenCorp, Kaman, Saab AB, Tata Power, and Zodiac Aerospace.

Cluster bombs are indiscriminate in the way they kill, responsible for more civilian casualties in Iraq in 2003 and Kosovo in 1999 than any other weapon system. New Zealand formally adopted the Cluster Munitions Convention on December 3, 2008 making a commitment to "never under any circumstances assist or encourage" the industry.

"Profiting from the production of cluster munitions is immoral and an embarrassment to the reputation of the Government's Superannuation Fund," said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

"The Fund is likely to be in breach of New Zealand's obligations under the Cluster Munitions Convention and must divest from these companies immediately.

"I think the average New Zealander would be shocked to know their retirement savings are being invested in cluster bombs.

"We are growing increasingly concerned that the Superannuation Fund's in repeatedly breaching its own guidelines on ethical investment. Their repeated oversights risk serious damage to our reputation as a responsible member of the world community.

"To avoid this happening again, the Fund needs to be proactive in their approach to ethical investment, benchmarking itself against best practice overseas, and screening companies more effectively to ensure its investing according to its own principles."

The Superannuation Fund has previously been found to be investing in the whaling and tobacco industries and currently invests more than $93 million in companies other sovereign funds have chosen to divest from under the same United Nations guidelines for responsible investment.

"The Super Fund has invested $9.3 million in companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons, $29.7 million in companies cited for severe environmental destruction, $17.5 million in companies committing human rights violations, and $2.7 million in a company that supplies weapons to the Burmese Government," Dr Norman said.

"If the Fund has been unable to successfully engage with these companies - companies like Larsen & Toubro who are manufacturing a fleet of nuclear armed submarines for the Indian Government - then they should divest.

"In the long term, it's not in our interests or our children's to profit from the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the destruction of our environment, or the on-going support of the oppressive Burmese military regime," said Dr Norman.