On Friday, we learned that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund invests in companies that manufacture nuclear weapons. But its worse, much worse. In this week's Listener, Matt Nippert details exactly what our tax money is being invested in - and the results are very dirty indeed. $230 million - almost 10% of the amount directly invested in stocks - is invested in companies whose actions are directly at odds with government policy. We invest in tobacco companies. We invest in casinos. We invest in arms companies and uranium mines. We invest in Big Oil. And we invest in genocide:
Holdings totalling $12.4 million in five companies blacklisted by Columbia University's Endowment Fund because of their role in propping up Sudan’s government. Sudan’s Janjaweed militia have committed genocide during a conflict that has led to more than 200,000 deaths in Darfur.
Yet another example of New Zealand being "a strong supporter of human rights", I suppose.
And if that's not enough, just to add insult to injury, we also invest in Halliburton. $10.7 million in the US's biggest military contractor in Iraq, which helped to build the American gulag in Guantanamo Bay, and which is part owned by US Vice President Dick Cheney. So, we're in business with the one of the chief architects of the Iraq war, and directly profiting from it and the US's global policy of rendition and indefinite detention without trial. Nice.
Some of these investments may be illegal. I'm not sure that investing in BAE and Northrop Grumman violates s5 (2) (b) of the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987 as the Greens allege, but it certainly violates s58 (2) (c) of the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001, which requires the Fund to invest in such a way as to
[avoid] prejudice to New Zealand's reputation as a responsible member of the world community.
Many of the other investments fall under the same clause. "Responsible members of the world community" don't support genocide, cluster bombs, gross environmental degradation, or Iraq. But more generally, this is our taxes being invested in this, and I think most of us will be disgusted to learn what it is supporting. It's not good enough to just shrug our shoulders and call it a business decision, when our money is helping to build Guantanamo, or to keep the Sudanese regime in power, thereby aiding and abetting its campaign of genocide in Darfur. It's time we subjected our investments to some proper ethical standards. We should not be supporting our pensioners with blood money.