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New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame

12 December 2012 32 comments

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polyp_cartoon_Arms_Trade_Profits

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Aside from our “100% Pure” and “Clean and Green” scam with which we’ve been deceiving inbound tourists, New Zealand has another dirty little secret.

This one kills people.

This is about two New Zealand investment companies which are investing in the manufacture and sale of cluster bombs – one of the most deadly and pernicious weapons ever devised by the sickest minds of human beings.

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large_20081203_Cluster_bombs

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As the diagramme above shows, cluster bombs release hundreds of small ‘bomblets’ that can wound, maim, and kill civilians (and is not very healthy for military personnel either – imagine our men and women encountering these obscene things whilst on peace-keeping duties overseas).

As Bill Meyer wrote in an article, on 3 December 2008,

Cluster bomblets are packed by the hundreds into artillery shells, bombs or missiles, which scatter them over vast areas. Some fail to explode immediately. The unexploded bomblets can then lie dormant for years until they are disturbed, often by children attracted by their small size and bright colors.

The group Handicap International says 98 percent of cluster-bomb victims are civilians, and 27 percent are children.”

See: Nearly 100 nations sign treaty to ban cluster bombs; U.S., Russia don’t agree to give them up

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated on 17 February 2010,

The Secretary-General welcomes this major advance on the global disarmament agenda, and notes that the Convention’s entry into force just two years after its adoption demonstrates the world’s collective revulsion at the impact of these terrible weapons.

Cluster munitions are unreliable and inaccurate. During conflict and long after it has ended, they maim and kill scores of civilians, including many children.”

See: Cluster bomb ban reaches ratification

In 2009, to their eternal credit, National passed legislation banning these obscene weapons from our country – including the possession, retaining, stockpiling, assistance, encouragement, or even inducement to deal with them.

Furthermore, the law specifically banned all investment and development of these damned things,

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Cluster munitions prohibition Act 2009 Part 2 Activities related to cluster munitions

Source

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Part 2, sub-part 1,  Paragraph 10, Sub-paragraph 2 clearly states in unequivocal terms,

A person commits an offence who provides or invests funds with the intention that the funds be used, or knowing that they are to be used, in the development or production of cluster munitions.”

As a trenchant critic of this government, I happily re-print many of the fine comments that National ministers said, during one part of  the debate in 2009,

This bill implements New Zealand’s obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which requires legislation. The convention establishes a wide-ranging prohibition on the use of cluster munitions, which cause unacceptable human harm. The convention is a significant development in international humanitarian measures, and, therefore, its implementation is a key disarmament priority for this Government. Cluster munitions pose a particular threat to civilians. They have a wide area effect and they very often leave behind a large number of unexploded devices. Decades after their use, the tragedy of lost lives and horrific injuries is still apparent.

[...]

Our work will not end there. The more States that commit to the convention, the stronger the norm against cluster munitions will become. New Zealand will be a strong advocate for the convention. Through diplomatic channels we have pressed upon other States the importance of the convention and we have encouraged the ratification of it. I urge all States that have not already done so to sign and ratify the convention as soon as possible. I hope that our legislation will be useful to other countries as they strive to implement the convention themselves. Efforts to universalise the convention are key to creating a sense of moral repugnancy and to rid the world of these hideous weapons. New Zealand has a profile on disarmament and arms control issues far above our size or place in the world. We have long taken a strong position on the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions, and we have taken a central role in the development of the convention. I am extremely pleased to continue that tradition with this bill. I am proud that New Zealand is truly committed to a world without cluster munitions, and that I stand to represent the Government and the people of New Zealand in making that stand. I commend the bill to the House.” – Hon GEORGINA TE HEUHEU (Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control)

I think that the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill is among the most important that we will put through Parliament this year. It was a pleasure to have this issue before our Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee and to have members from all parties totally united in preparing the report back to the House. I am just looking back through Hansard and I notice that the bill first came to our attention in late July of this year, so in parliamentary terms we have done quite well. I commend the Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Georgina te Heuheu, for pushing so hard to make sure that we got the legislation through in this calendar year. I should also like to commend the Leader of the Opposition, Phil Goff, for his stewardship of this issue in his term in Government, and my colleague Don MacKay in the ministry, who was our lead negotiator on the legislation.” – JOHN HAYES (National—Wairarapa)

It gives me pleasure to speak in support of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill. The committee took some time to work very closely together to deliver a good bill for the House. Like all members, I believe that the sooner we get this into law, the better. Thank you.” – TODD McCLAY (National—Rotorua)

It is not often I say this, but kudos to National for taking this step and passing one of their better laws.

Internationally, Britain supported the ban.

Only the rabid, right-wing lunatics of the Bush Administration; the paranoid  Israeli government;  and the amoral, money-hungry, regimes in Russia and China, resist joining the ban.

The Bush Administration went so far as to state,

The Bush administration says a comprehensive ban would hurt world security.

“Although we share the humanitarian concerns of states signing the (accord), we will not be joining them,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement. “Such a general ban on cluster munitions will put the lives of our military men and women, and those of our coalition partners, at risk.”

See: Nearly 100 nations sign treaty to ban cluster bombs; U.S., Russia don’t agree to give them up

How saving the lives of innocent civilians puts “the lives of our military men and women, and those of our coalition partners, at risk” is  a matter of conjecture that only gun-happy militarists can explain. God knows what goes through their flaky thinking.

The Israelis generally engaged in their usual political deflection,

In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said his government had decided not to join the treaty, and instead believes the issue of cluster bomb use should be addressed through the U.N. Convention on Conventional Weapons.

See: IBID

And recently, the despotic Syrian regime  was shown to be deliberately using cluster bombs against civilian targets,

New evidence has emerged that the Syrian air force has used cluster munitions in recent days, Human Rights Watch said today. Many of the strikes were near the main highway that runs through Ma`arat al-Nu`man, the site of a major confrontation between government and rebel forces this week.

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Residents from Taftanaz and Tamane`a confirmed in interviews with Human Rights Watch that helicopters dropped cluster munitions on or near their towns on October 9.

See: Syria: New Evidence Military Dropped Cluster Bombs

The Cluster Munitions Coalition stated,

Amy Little, Campaign Manager for the CMC, said: “This new evidence confirms our worst fears. It now appears that in the past week the Assad regime has used cluster bombs in numerous locations, including in populated areas, risking the lives of far too many civilians. This absolutely has to stop. We urge the many states that have already banned these indiscriminate weapons to publicly condemn Syria’s actions and to call for a complete halt in cluster bomb use. We encourage other countries to also make this demand in recognition of the danger these weapons pose to civilians.”

Human Rights Watch has confirmed that the cluster munition remnants shown in the videos are Soviet-made RBK-250 series cluster bomb canisters and AO-1SCh fragmentation bomblets. It is not known at this time from where Syria acquired them.

See: Syria use of cluster bombs confirmed – states must publicly condemn this outrage

Which brings us to the Government Superannuation Fund Authority and National Provident Fund.

It is disturbing to learn that both Fund management companies have been investing in U.S. corporations that manufacture cluster bombs,

Answers to Parliamentary written questions lodged by the Green Party show that the Government’s National Provident Fund and Government Superannuation Fund invest, through trusts and investment vehicles, $2.2 million in three companies that are involved in the production of cluster bombs, despite section 10 of the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 which specifically prohibits it. The companies involved are: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and L-3 Communications.”

See: Govt Found Investing Illegally In Cluster Bombs

See: Green Party Parliamentary Questions to Hon Bill English, Minister of Finance

Bill English’s response to concerns raised by the Green Party was disturbing, to put it mildly,

As at 31 October 2012, some NPF schemes held units in NPF’s Overseas Equity Fund of the Global Asset Trust which in turn directly held shares in some of the named companies.

[...]

Some of the NPF schemes also have interests in collective investment vehicles, such as unit trusts, that owned some of the  named companies at 31 October 2012…

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The NPF schemes invest in these vehicles to get exposure to equity markets more efficiently. In these cases the Board cannot influence the individual investments made.”

The GSF Fund does not own directly any of the shares named. All are excluded investments under the GSF Authority’s Responsible Investment Policy, details of which  are publicly available on the Authority’s website http://www.gsfa.govt.nz, including a list of excluded shares.The GSF Fund also has interests in collective investment vehicles, such as unit trusts, that owned some of the named companies at 31 October 2012…

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The GSF Fund invests in these vehicles to get exposure to equity markets more efficiently. In these cases the Authority cannot influence the individual investments made.”

See: IBID

By stating that “in these cases the Board cannot influence the individual investments made” because of the nature of certain “unit trusts” beggars belief.

In effect, a Minister of the Crown, sworn under Oath to uphold the laws of the land, has justified breaking Parliamentary legislation that National itself authored and passed!?

Since when is it acceptable to by-pass the laws of our land by engaging a third-party conduit?

Are there any other laws that we could side-step because they happen to be “inconvenient”?

Especially if side-stepping laws means we can “get exposure to equity markets more efficiently” (ie; make more money)?!

Does life get any weirder when I am even having to ask questions like this?

It seems inconceivable that New Zealand companies, operating under legislation that has jurisdiction over us all, are able to flout a law that has crystal clarity with it’s wording and intent;

A person commits an offence who provides or invests funds with the intention that the funds be used, or knowing that they are to be used, in the development or production of cluster munitions.”

Accordingly, I have written to  the Government Superannuation Fund Authority, National Provident Fund, and Finance Minister Bill English;

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Date: Sunday, 9 December 2012 4:30 PM
From: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: NZ companies investing in banned weapons
To: Bill English  “bill.english@parliament.govt.nz”

Sir,
 
Re: NZ companies investing in banned weapons.
 
It is my understanding that you have recently been made aware that the  National Provident Fund and Government Superannuation Fund have investments in overseas companies that are manufacturing banned weapons, namely cluster munitions.
 
As you are no doubt aware, such investments contravene the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 which your government wisely passed three years ago. In part, the law states,
 
Part 2, sub-part 1,  Paragraph 10, Sub-paragraph 2,
“A person commits an offence who provides or invests funds with the intention that the funds be used, or knowing that they are to be used, in the development or production of cluster munitions.”
 
Will you directing the National Provident Fund and Government Superannuation Fund to divest their investments from companies such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and L-3 Communications ( and any others that may be involved)?
 
If you will be so directing the  National Provident Fund and Government Superannuation Fund, what time-frame will you be giving them to carry out your instructions?
 
If the  National Provident Fund and Government Superannuation Fund fail to carry out your instructions, will you follow through with prosecutions for breaking the Act?
 
I await your response in this matter.
 
Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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Date:  Wednesday, 12 December 2012 8:43 PM
From: Frank Macskasy “fmacskasy@yahoo.com”
Subject: Government Superannuation Fund Investments
To: Keith Taylor “enquiries@gsfa.govt.nz”

 

 

Keith Taylor
Board Chairperson
Government Superannuation Fund
 
 
 
Sir,
 
Re: Government Superannuation Fund  investing in banned weapons.
 
It is my understanding that you have recently been made aware that the  Government Superannuation Fund has investments in overseas companies that are manufacturing banned weapons, namely cluster munitions.
 
As you are no doubt aware, such investments contravene the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 which the current government passed three years ago. In part, the law states,
 
Part 2, sub-part 1,  Paragraph 10, Sub-paragraph 2,
“A person commits an offence who provides or invests funds with the intention that the funds be used, or knowing that they are to be used, in the development or production of cluster munitions.”
 
The production of these lethal weapons is a matter of deep concern to many New Zealanders and requires your immediate attention and action. Too many innocent people – including children in warzones such as Syria – are being maimed or killed by these horrendous weapons.These weapons injure, maim, and kill indiscriminately. By investing in their manufacture, in effect New Zealanders are complicit in the deaths of innocent people. This is unacceptable. Our own peacekeeping troops may also be at risk from these lethal devices. Should a New Zealand soldier be harmed or killed by a cluster weapon, I believe media and public attention will quickly focus on companies such as yours, which effectively financed their injury or death.You should also ask yourselves; are your careers really worth the money that your Fund may make from these investments? Is this what you want to be remembered for?

I believe not.

No profit is worth the lives of fellow human beings.

Accordingly;

1. Will you issue a directive to divest  investment in  companies such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and L-3 Communications ( and any others that may be involved)?
 
2. If you will be so directing the divestment of such investments, what time-frame will you be allowing to carry out this action?
 
3. If you have no intention of divesting these investments, are you aware that you and your fellow Board members may be laying yourselves open to prosection?

I request that this matter be raised and discussed at the earliest opportunity at your next Board meeting. Please convey my email  to your fellow Board members.
 
I await your response in this matter.

Please note that I am in the process of blogging on this issue. With your assistance, I hope to present a positive outcome and resolution on this matter.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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Date:  Wednesday, 12 December 2012 8:53 PM
From: Frank Macskasy “fmacskasy@yahoo.com”
Subject: National Provident Fund investments
To: Catherine Savage “enquiries@npf.co.nz”

 

 

Catherine Savage
Chairperson
Board of Trustees
National Provident Fund
 
 
 
 
Sir,
 
Re: National Provident Fund investing in banned weapons.
 
It is my understanding that you have recently been made aware that the  National Provident Fund  has investments in overseas companies that are manufacturing banned weapons, namely cluster munitions.
 
As you are no doubt aware, such investments contravene the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 which the current government passed three years ago. In part, the law states,
 
Part 2, sub-part 1,  Paragraph 10, Sub-paragraph 2,
“A person commits an offence who provides or invests funds with the intention that the funds be used, or knowing that they are to be used, in the development or production of cluster munitions.”
 
The production of these lethal weapons is a matter of deep concern to many New Zealanders and requires your immediate attention and action. Too many innocent people – including children in warzones such as Syria – are being maimed or killed by these horrendous weapons.These weapons injure, maim, and kill indiscriminately. By investing in their manufacture, in effect New Zealanders are complicit in the deaths of innocent people. This is unacceptable. Our own peacekeeping troops may also be at risk from these lethal devices. Should a New Zealand soldier be harmed or killed by a cluster weapon, I believe media and public attention will quickly focus on companies such as yours, which effectively financed their injury or death.You should also ask yourselves; are your careers really worth the money that your Fund may make from these investments? Is this what you want to be remembered for?

I believe not.

No profit is worth the lives of fellow human beings.

Accordingly;

1. Will you issue a directive to divest  investment in  companies such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and L-3 Communications ( and any others that may be involved)?
 
2. If you will be so directing the divestment of such investments, what time-frame will you be allowing to carry out this action?
 
3. If you have no intention of divesting these investments, are you aware that you and your fellow Board members may be laying yourselves open to prosection?

I request that this matter be raised and discussed at the earliest opportunity at your next Board meeting. Please convey my email  to your fellow Board members.
 
I await your response in this matter.

Please note that I am in the process of blogging on this issue. With your assistance, I hope to present a positive outcome and resolution on this matter.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

 

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References

Wikipedia: Cluster munition

GovernmentSuperannuation Fund Authority board members and the management team

GovernmentSuperannuation Fund GSF Act Requirements

National Provident Fund Board of Trustees

National Provident Fund Management

Green Party Parliamentary Questions to Hon Bill English, Minister of Finance

Sources

Nearly 100 nations sign treaty to ban cluster bombs; U.S., Russia don’t agree to give them up (3 Dec 2008)

NZ Parliament: Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill 2009 (21 July 2009)

NZ Parliament: Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill — Procedure, Second Reading, Third Reading (10 Dec 2009)

NZ Parliament: Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 (17 Dec 2009)

Cluster bomb ban reaches ratification (17 Feb 2010)

NZ celebrates global cluster bombs ban (1 Aug 2010)

Syria use of cluster bombs confirmed – states must publicly condemn this outrage (13 Oct 2012)

Syria: New Evidence Military Dropped Cluster Bombs (14 Oct 2012)

Govt Found Investing Illegally In Cluster Bombs (7 Dec 2012)

Govt still investing in bomb business (7 Dec 2012)

Govt funds still invested in cluster bomb makers (7 Dec 2012)

Organisations

www.stopclustermunitions.org

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