Archive

Posts Tagged ‘cluster bombs’

12 June – Issues of Interest

12 June 2013 2 comments

.

Looking at the pieces

.

Nigel Latta on National Standards

On Facebook, child psychologist and TV host, Nigel Latta, had this to say about the recent National Standards “results”;

‘National Standards’ aren’t.

The latest national standards ‘results’ being reported in the media are utter nonsense. Pure and simple. Even if we ignore the large inconsistencies between the way that the ‘standards’ are measured (and we can’t because the inconsistencies make comparisons all but impossible), and the fact that it assumes all children of a given age are maturing at the same rate (which they don’t), and we ignore the impact of little things like child poverty (which some politicians like to do much to their shame), it’s still impossible to say anything at all about a change in the numbers when you only have two data points.

They can’t say that a difference of 1.2-2% on the various measures between last year and this year is an ‘improvement’, because we simply don’t know.

If you had assessed all of those very same children again the day after they were assessed for these numbers, in the exact same conditions with the exact same measures, then you would also get a different number. That’s because in the real world we have this little thing called statistical variation–things never work out exactly the same. To make any meaningful statements about ‘improvements’ you need meaningful measures (which national standards aren’t anyway) over several different data points (i.e. over several years).

I wish the media would get that very simple, but very important point. Politicians will spin it as a gain, but it isn’t. It’s simply meaningless statistical ‘noise’.

The government went with national standards because they thought voters would like it, not because it’s the best thing for making progress on education. If we really wanted to lift our ‘national standards’ then, perhaps as a beginning, we’d take more care of the large numbers of our kids living in poverty.

When they produce their ‘rankings’ of schools I’m pretty sure it’s going to show a trend whereby higher decile schools meet/exceed the ‘standards’ much more than lower decile schools. I wonder why that might be? And who do we blame for that? Teachers?

Don’t be sucked in by all this political positioning. My advice is to ignore the national standards tables because they don’t mean anything. There’s a reason teachers were so opposed to the way these ‘national standards’ are being used… fundamentally because it’s nonsense!

Nigel Latta, Facebook, 12 June 2013

.

100% Pure brand busted!

New Zealand’s distance from it’s major trading partners (except Australia) has always been a major impediment to our trading. Our point-of-difference has  been the quality of our food products, and has made them desirable commodities on that basis.  Branding ourselves as “100% Pure” and  “Clean and Green” were marketing tools that created a multi-billion dollar export industry.

But that is coming to an end.

We are not “100% Pure” and nor are we “Clean and Green”. Anything but.

National has paid lip service to being green.

Pollution has been allowed to increase.

It’s focus on “reforming” the RMA to allow for exploitation mof sensitive environmental areas; more and more chemicals ion our farms; allowing dangerous deep sea drilling of our coastline; mining in Conservation lands; and ditching our committment to the Kyoto Protocol – have not gone unnoticed by our trading partners.

And those trading partners  are starting to react accordingly,

.

Sri Lanka demands DCD testing on NZ milk powder

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Sri Lanka demands DCD testing on NZ milk powder

.

An over-reaction?

Not when National has appointed a  board to over-see a resource consent application to allow an increase of nitrogen pollution  in the Tukituki River  by a staggering 250% !

.

Nitrate proposal seen as death knell for river

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Nitrate proposal seen as death knell for river

.

This will not doubt be ratchetted back to “only” 50% or 100%, and National will claim that they are “listening” to public concerns. It’s an old political trick when a deeply unpopular policy is put forward. Make a number unfeasibly large; then offer a lower number, and claim that government has listened to the public. In reality it was the lower number all along that was the preferred option.

National has consistently undermined environmental protections in this country, as well as knee-capped DoC by sacking staff and under-funding it’s operations.

We are now starting to pay the price of right-wing policies that pursue business and profit ahead of  preserving our environment.

What National and it’s one-eyed supporters don’t seem to comprehend is that business and profits are dependendent on our clean and green environment. Mess up the environment and expect to lose customers and profits.

Just ask the Sri Lankans.

.

User-pays healthcare?

For those neo-liberals and naive National supporters who advocate replacing our socialised healthcare system with privatised healthcare insurance, I present the reality,

.

NZ private health insurance uptake hits 6-yr low

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – NZ private health insurance uptake hits 6-yr low

.

Private health-privider,  Wakefield chairman Alan Isaac said,

“The total number of New Zealanders with private health insurance (is) decreasing.”

Acknowledgment: IBID

Well, no wonder!

Even as private healthcare companies like Wakefield are complaining about losing customers, they are hiking premiums and still making a 27% increase in full-year earnings. Twentyseven percent! Compare that to other investments, and you begin to realise that these companies aren’t doing too bad.

That’s 27% that could have been re-invested in healthcare – but is instead going into the pockets of shareholders.

What would happen, I wonder, if New Zealand’s healthcare system was fully privatised and  went totally “free market”, as ACT policy demands?

This OECD chart suggests the result, if we were ever foolish enough to go down that road,

.

OECD - private - public - healthcare expenditure -2007

Source: OECD – Total health expenditure per capita, public and private, 2007

.

At 7,290, the United States spends nearly three times as much on healthcare as we do. Their private/public health costs are vastly greater than the entire public/private expenditure we have here in New Zealand with our “socialised” system.

And ACT wants to emulate our American cuzzies?!

The only thing the USA has demonstrated is that a privatised healthcare system will result in a massive blow-out in costs and rapacious profits for shareholders.

The argument from the neo-liberal Right is that private enterprise is “more efficient” and better for consumers. This is absolute bollocks.

If anything, private health insurance is highly ineffective at delivering  universal healthcare for it’s clients,

.

Ongoing jumps in health insurance costs

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Ongoing jumps in health insurance costs

.

As has been observed by others in the past, private health insurance is relatively cheap when you are young, healthy, and make few demands for medical intervention.

But with old age; increased infirmity; and heightened vulnerabilty comes increased premium payments for policy-holders. Just when they most require increased medical services.

This is the fatal flaw in private medical insurance; those who most require it, will pay the highest premiums. And pay, and pay, and pay…

Just ask the Americans.

See also: NZ Herald – Jack Tame: Sickness is too expensive in the land of the free

Other blogs:  Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate

Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate
Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate
Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate

.

Some good news at last…

.

It has been a stain on our reputation that despite our anti-nuclear legislation, our Superannuation Fund was still investing in overseas companies engaged in producing atomic bombs and cluster munitions. This was a problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”)  that I highlighted  in December, last year.

Previous related blogposts:  New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame

Previous related blogposts:  New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame – *Update*

The Superannuation Fund has done the right thing by no longer continuing to invest in Babcock & Wilcox, Fluor Corporation, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Jacobs Engineering Group, Serco Group and URS Corporation;

.

Super Fund sells nuclear investments

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Super Fund sells nuclear investments

.

The other weapons we are no longer investing in is the manufacture of cluster-munitions. These vile things are the weapons-of-choice for vicious dictators and other repressive regimes which they use against their civilian population.

They have been used in Syria, against unarmed civilians. Children have been killed by these monstrous devices.  (see: Syrian children ‘killed by cluster bombs’)

Cluster munitions have been outlawed by  nearly 100 nations which signed a  treaty to ban cluster bombs.  In 2009, to their credit, the current National-led government  passed legislation banning these obscene weapons from our country. This included the possession, retaining, stockpiling, assistance, encouragement, or even inducement to deal with them.

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

It would take a ruthless person to discount this human suffering and advocate for our continued investment in their manufacture.

The Superannuation Fund was effectively breaking the law with it’s investments in General Dynamics, L-3 Communications, Raytheon, and the Goodrich Corp.

It’s good to see that our fingers are no longer bloodied by such  investments.

As for right-wingers who dismiss investment in atomic bombs or cluster munition – go play with a cluster bomb.  Come back to me after it’s detonated in your hands. Then we’ll talk.

Just ask the Syrians.

.

The bucks stops with me over there, somewhere…

I guess it was inevitable, really…

.

Deputy Secretary resigns over Novopay

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Deputy Secretary resigns over Novopay

.

Did we really, really expect any one of the three Ministers who signed off on Novopay to put their hand up and admit responsibility?!

No less than three ministers signed off on Novopay, to allow it to “go live”;

  • Education Minisrer Hekia Parata
  • Associate Education Minister Craig Foss
  • Finance Minister Bill English

Because doesn’t it strike people as  indicative that Minister for Everything, aka, Mr Fixit, Steven Joyce was appointed Minister in charge of Novopay – thereby taking responsibility for this ongoing balls-up away from Parata?! (see: ODT – Joyce to take on handling of Novopay)

Despite the so-call “ministerial inquiry”, Joyce had a very interesting point to make on 31 January;

.

Government sticking with Novopay - for now

Acknowledgement – Radio NZ – Government sticking with Novopay for now

Steven Joyce revealed that Education Minister Hekia Parata, Finance Minister Bill English and former education minister Craig Foss approved the use of Novopay despite being told that it had bugs.”

So… how can  Joyce’s statement be reconciled with his statement, five months later,

Reporting to Ministers was inconsistent, unduly optimistic and sometimes misrepresented the situation.”

Source: Beehive.govt.nz: Ministerial Inquiry report into Novopay released

Either Ministers were “told that it had bugs” or  reporting wasunduly optimistic and sometimes misrepresented the situation“. Which is it?!

By the way, the Ministerial Inquiry was undertaken by Maarten Wevers and Chairman of Deloitte New Zealand Murray Jack.

Mr Weavers was former head of the Department of the Prime Minister (John Key) and Cabinet.

Connect the dots.

.

WhiteWash

.

Other blogposts: Gordon Campbell on the latest Novopay revelations

.

.

= fs =

Advertisements

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment – Sunrise, Sunset, and Outlooks

9 January 2013 3 comments

To Whom It May Concern; the following Report Card detail’s Johnny’s achievements over the last four years.

The following contrasts compare four years, ranging from the end of 2008 to the end of this year, 2012.

Whilst it is acknowledged that the Global Financial Crisis impacted harshly on our society and economy, it is also fair to say that National has had the benefits of starting out with a sound economy (surpluses, low unemployment, etc)  in 2008 and four years in office to make good on it’s election promises.

.

Sunrise, Sunset, and Outlook for 2013

.

.

What are we manufacturing today

.

We need businesses producing high-value products for overseas markets and businesses using R&D to develop those products which drives other benefits, like better production processes and marketing.  Basically it’s about using innovation to drive our economy.

We have some of these companies already – the likes of Fisher and Paykel, Tait and Rakon. Our world-leading dairy industry also owes much of its success to innovation.” – Jonathan Coleman,  Associate Minister of Finance, 1 July 2011

See: EDANZ National Economic Development Forum – Speech Notes

It’s a funny old world we live in…

Sunrise Industries…

.

Central Auckland super brothel approved

Full story

.

tobacco-deal-creates-50-jobs-in-petone

Full story

.

skycity-deal-puts-laws-up-for-sale

Full story

.

Another liquor outlet set to open

Full story

.

Sex, gambling, tobacco, alcohol – the new profitable industries of the 1st century? We seem to have left out other “growth” industries, the modern sex-slave trade in women and children, and arms manufacturing.

Oh. Wait. Maybe not,

.

Govt funds still invested in cluster bomb makers

Full story

.

Oh well, National and it’s  free-market fellow-travellers will be delirious with joy. If there’s a buck to be made from vices and weapons, they’ll be happy as a pig in mud.

Now if only they can find the price of a soul, and a market for it…

And the Sun sets on…

.

Sounds silenced by $20m debt

Full story

.

Borders, Whitcoulls under administration

Full story

.

Real Groovy Wellington to close

Full story

.

Closing chapter for fine arts bookshop

Full story

.

Bookstore another victim of public sector cuts

Full story

.

Marbecks music shop closes down

Full story

.

Meanwhile…

Basically it’s about using innovation to drive our economy. We have some of these companies already – the likes of Fisher and Paykel, Tait and Rakon. Jonathan Coleman,  Associate Minister of Finance, 1 July 2011

.

Rakon cuts full-year profit guidance

Source

.

F&P confirms job losses

Full story

Warning as Haier wins all

Full story

.

Oh well, one (Tait) out of three still seems a ‘goer’. How long for, I wonder?

Meanwhile, how are our export and related sectors doing?

.

Job losses blamed on high NZ dollar - more forecast

Full story

.

And the stats back up the ODT story above,

.

New Zealand in Profile_2012_economy

Source: New Zealand in Profile: 2012 – Economy

.

Not too good it seems.  The red-highlighted sectors all declined from 2006 to 2011.

National’s “hands off” doctrine, in deference of the ‘Invisible Hand of the Market’, is certainly achieving one result; giving advantage to our exporting competitors from other nations. The Nats seem resigned (hellbent?) to more job losses; more exporters going under; more skilled tradespeople leaving for Australia; and a further decline ineconomic growth,

.

Job losses inevitable in declining industries, say ministers

Full story

.

What the hell!? The export sector is a “declining industry“?!?!

When even National’s allies – the Manufacturers and Exporters Association – are calling for government intervention about the high New Zealand dollar, it really drives home the seriousness of the crisis. An economic crisis that this time had it’s origins on Molesworth Street – not Wall Street.

For National to persist in it’s “hands off”  and obedience to Free Market dogma will have nasty consequences for our economy.

For 2013, expect,

  • unemployment to rise
  • the export sector to worsen
  • growth to remain low, under 1%
  • an early election this coming year, as Dunne and the Maori Party desert the National-led coalition.

It’s easy to predict – we’ve seen it all before.

Previous related blogposts

New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame

New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame – *Update*

NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries – Drugs, Gambling, & Prostitution

Drugs & Gambling – NZ’s 21st Century Growth Industries?

.

outlook for 2013

.

.

= fs =

New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame – *Update*

17 December 2012 6 comments

Continued from: New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame

.

polyp_cartoon_Arms_Trade_Profits

.

On 12 December, this blogger reported that two domestic investment funds, the government’s National Provident Fund and Government Superannuation Fund had “ interests in collective investment vehicles ” that were investing in  Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and L-3 Communications.

These three corporations  manufacture weapons known as “cluster bombs”, which cause horrific injuries, maimings, and death to innocent civilians.

See: Wikipedia: Cluster munition

New Zealand law is quite unambiguous on this issue,

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.”

Source

Accordingly, this blogger wrote to Finance Minister Bill English – to which no reply has yet been received. (See: New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame)

Emails to the National Provident Fund and Government Superannuation Fund yielded this media statement being received on 14 December,

.

GSFA public statement

.

It seems inconceivable that legislation can be side-stepped so effortlessly, simply by employing a “third party” – in this case an investment strategy known as a “collective investment vehicle”.

I can think of no other legal situation where a person can circumvent the law simply by relying on a third party to commit an illegal act. At this point, conspiracy laws would surely kick in?!

No wonder Bill English has not responded to my email. This is a can of worms he doesn’t want within eyesight or earshot.

Especially when the law banning investment in cluster weapons – Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009  – was actually legislation authored and passed by National, in 2009.

This blogger emailed a follow-up set of questions to Mr Tyler, cc’d to Finance Minister, Bill English,

1. By investing in certain  “collective investment vehicles”, which are investing in corporations that manufacture banned cluster weapons, are not the National Provident and Government Superannuation Funds simply attempting to  circumvent the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 which specifically prohibits such investment practices “knowing that they are to be used, in the development or production of cluster munitions”?

2. Are you aware that you may be risking prosecution under the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009, and that your explanation that “the Authority has no control over the CIVs, however, nor over the corporate securities they hold”  may not be a legal defence?

 
3. Why does the National Provident and Government Superannuation Funds simply not switch collective investment vehicles?
 
I await your response to these questions and hope that this issue can be resolved.
 
Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
 
CC: Bill English, Minister of Finance
 
 

 

.

The longer these investments are allowed to continue, the longer our country is complicit in the use of a banned weapon that kills indiscriminately.

.

.

= fs =

New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame

12 December 2012 34 comments

.

polyp_cartoon_Arms_Trade_Profits

.

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.

.

large_20081203_Cluster_bombs

.

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,

.

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

Source

.

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.

[…]

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…

[…]

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…

[…]

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;

.

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

.

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

.

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

 

.

*

.

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

.

.

= fs =