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May 6, 2010    

Will New Zealand invest government funds ethically?

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by David Masters
Will New Zealand invest government funds ethically?

New Zealand MPs are set to vote on a bill that would ensure government funds are ethically invested.

The bill, sponsored by MP Grant Robertson, would mean the government could only invest in socially and environmentally responsible companies.

“I believe that New Zealanders want [government] investments to be ethically sound,” Robertson said.

“What this Bill will do is give clear and consistent criteria for crown financial institutions to use to direct their investment managers to operate within, based on international norms and treaties,” he added.

If the bill is passed, government investments would avoid companies that exploit their workers or the envronment.

“These criteria emphasise the importance of investing in organisations that have good governance, treat their stakeholders fairly and uphold human rights and good labour standards,” Robertson said.

“From an environmental standpoint the organisations that are invested in should be conscious of their ecological footprint and should not be harmful to resources such as air, water and land.”

New Zealand’s Green Party has welcomed the bill, but the country’s Shareholders Association criticised the proposals as impractical.

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