Greens accuse government of hypocrisy over cluster bombs

Other News Materials 14 February 2008 08:19 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - New Zealand was accused Thursday of hypocrisy in hosting an international conference aimed at banning cluster bombs while a government pension fund invests in companies making them.

"New Zealanders do not want their taxes invested in the production of cluster bombs," said Russel Norman, co-leader of the Green Party. "These bombs target children and civilians and blow them to pieces."

He said the state pension fund in Norway, where the drive for an international treaty prohibiting the use of the weapons began a year ago, had boycotted investments in US companies Lockheed and Raytheon which manufacture them.

But the New Zealand Super Fund, established to finance future state pensions for an increasingly ageing population, had "incredibly" increased its investments in both companies, Norman said.

About 400 delegates from 100 states are expected to attend the fourth conference designed to draft a treaty banning cluster bombs in Wellington next week.

" New Zealand, in hosting this major event, is making an important contribution to achieving an ambitious vision of a ban on cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians," Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control Phil Goff said.

But Norman said, "It is blatant hypocrisy for the New Zealand government on the one hand to take dividends from the manufacture of cluster bombs while on the other hand to call for the adoption of an international treaty prohibiting the use of cluster bombs."

He said the investments needed to stop, before New Zealand's reputation as a peace-loving nation was damaged.