National Provident Fund divests from cluster munitions

The Government guaranteed National Provident Fund has divested from companies producing cluster weapons, more than two years after the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act became law making such investment illegal.

The decision to divest from Lockheed Martin came after a letter from me asking them to do so. The NPF Fund Manager, Simon Tyler, said in the letter “the NPF Board is comfortable that it acted in accordance with its policies and with New Zealand’s international obligations under the Cluster Munitions Convention and similar laws.”

Trouble is, I don’t work for the Fund. While I’m happy with the end result, it’s troubling the Fund doesn’t have the systems in place to stop it from breaking the law so unashamedly.

When we adopted the Cluster Munitions Convention in 2008, we made a commitment to “never under any circumstances assist or encourage” the cluster munitions industry.

Simon Tyler contends the Fund had only recently acquired $358,969 shares in Lockheed Martin, so their breech was short-lived. Yet the Fund continues to use “collective investment vehicles” (CIVs) over which it has no influence over the specific companies invested in. It’s unclear whether this will mean the Fund will, in the future, again profit from cluster munitions manufacturers at arm’s length through CIVs.

Russel

 

10 thoughts on “National Provident Fund divests from cluster munitions

  1. A step in the right direction. All we need now is for the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to divest it’s $2 million plus worth of shares in companies that manufacture nuclear weapons.

    The excuse that’s presently being used is that these companies also manufacture other items that aren’t prohibited against and that the investors cannot know exactly how their money is being utilized within the companies structure.

    In my opinion that excuse doesn’t hold water because investing in a company that manufactures these kinds weapons is supporting the manufacture of the weapons themselves. Any investment in such abhorrent companies would clearly breach our obligations under the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act (PDF) and the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act (PDF).

    New Zealand simply shouldn’t be helping companies that manufacture prohibited weapons and if there’s even a slight chance that our investments are being used to build weapons of mass destruction or facilitate war mongering, those investments should be halted forthwith.

  2. Well, lets forget return on investment and just keep the money in the bank – we can always print some more if oldfolks want a pension.

  3. dave stringer

    Well, lets forget return on investment and just keep the money in the bank – we can always print some more if oldfolks want a pension.

    There’s plenty of other places to invest that don’t involve causing thousands of people misery.

    How exactly do you make the connection between quantitative easing and ensuring there’s enough investment in the Super Fund?

  4. I think Dave manages that leap because he’s pining for Arana.

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all :)

  5. another dirty dark ugly truth exposed…
    where is the end for this immoral & sneaky govt which treats breaking/bending NZ laws as an everyday affair…???

  6. So Russel wrote to the government asking them to sell assets, in the middle of his campaign to stop asset sales.

  7. Shares in companies that produce cluster weapons have the same social value as 100% ownership of electricity producing assets. Quack.

  8. Solkta – so the reason to stop asset sales has changed from the massive profits Russel claimed they made for the govt, and is now because of their “social value”?

    Presumably the power generated by Mighty River must have social value, but power generated by Contact has no social value.

    Otherwise the Greens would complain each time shares in Contact have been sold by the govt.

  9. “lets forget return on investment and just keep the money in the bank – we can always print some more if oldfolks want a pension.”

    Quite. And if we invest in cluster munitions, there could well be fewer old people surviving to claim pensions, which is clearly a fiscally responsible outcome. Might be a few more people claiming disability benefits though.

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