In August 2015, a report came out suggesting that New Zealand Kiwi Saver funds were heavily invested in the military armaments industry. At the centre of the problem it was found that companies manufacturing land mines, cluster munitions and nuclear weapons had been invested in by the major Kiwi Saver schemes. Aside from the understandable surprise and disgust that went with the announcement, questions over New Zealand’s commitment to international treaties such as the Convention on Cluster Munitions. A year later, has much changed?
Sadly it would appear not. A year later little appears to have changed.
This is rather hypocritical as well on two separate accounts:
- New Zealand has banned cluster munitions and is a signatory and ratifier of the Convention on Cluster Munitions which entered into force here in 2010 and was signed by none other than the current Government
- By the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act, 1987 New Zealand is supposed to be nuclear free
If New Zealanders do not want our reputation as a human rights conscious nation to take an unnecessary bashing, then we would be well advised to do the following:
- Give the major Kiwi Saver scheme operators until Christmas to divest from companies making landmines and cluster munitions
- Ban Kiwi Saver schemes from investing in them in the future
To do this there would need to be a law change regarding how the Kiwi Saver schemes can be invested. Whilst National does not think it is necessary, Labour the Greens and New Zealand First all disagree. To date all four of the major banks in New Zealand have involvement in these industries vis-a-vis Kiwi Saver schemes. I envisage that the watchdog for Kiwi Saver schemes be responsible for ensuring that existing and potential investments are adhering to the international treaties that New Zealand is a signatory to.
It would at this time also be appropriate to amend the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act to block investment in companies that develop nuclear weapons technology. Otherwise we are effectively saying to supporters of the current ban that military grade weapons of mass destruction are okay when we have committed to keeping this country free of them.