12 Apr 2017

Kiwisaver weapon divestment

From The House, 6:55 pm on 12 April 2017

A petition is prompting the Government to ban Kiwisaver from illegal weapons investments.

The petition says:

That the House of Representatives note that 16,000 people have signed an online petition Requesting that Rt Hon John Key and Hon Paul Goldsmith introduce legislation to make it illegal for KiwiSaver fund managers to invest the savings of New Zealanders in companies involved in the manufacture of weapons, bombs, land mines, missiles, or any device the sole purpose of which is to kill or injure.

Grant Bayldon, Executive Director of Amnesty International NZ, demonstrates the size of a cluster bomblet

"This is an easy decision to make" - Grant Bayldon, Amnesty International Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

At the Finance and Expenditure Committee where the petition has been referred, the debate focused on cluster munitions, landmines and nuclear weapons - all of which are already illegal in New Zealand. 

Arguing for action on investment were the Petitioner - Nina Atkinson, the Executive Director of Amnesty International NZ - Grant Bayldon, and Marianne Elliott from civic engagement organisation Action Station.

When investigative journalism last year revealed that Kiwisaver funds were investing in land mines and cluster bombs the Prime Minister dismissed concerns, saying it was up to kiwis to find out where providers made investments and to decide where to put their money accordingly.

This prompted an online petition through Action Station for these investments to be made specifically illegal - as well as wider weapons investments.

Nina Atkinson, Marianne Elliott & Grant Bayldon appear before the Finance Committee.

Nina Atkinson, Marianne Elliott & Grant Bayldon appear before the Finance Committee. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

James Shaw noted that such "investments, whether direct or indirect are already illegal under New Zealand law." He said that banks have been moving away from such investments since last year's expose, but were dragging their feet and need to be given a deadline.

Labour's Grant Robertson agreed saying "They shouldn't be investing in things which we already know to be illegal to invest in anyway." He noted that a particular problem was that some of the funds making such investments are default Kiwisaver providers, and so are seen as being endorsed by the Government.

The Finance Committee will make a report back to the House on the petition, potentially recommending action that should be taken.