MAC: Mines and Communities

Two miners among "worst" transationals operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Published by MAC on 2010-03-18
Source: CAFCA & GATT Watchdog

Roger - and Out!

The Campaign against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (New Zealand) - CAFCA - has just published a list of finalists for the Award of "The Worst Transnational Corporation" operating in the country in 2009 - the  so-called "Roger Awards".

For many years a panel of distinguished New Zealanders has deliberated on which of many candidate companies most deserved to be indicted as the most damaging, based on their environmental, social and economic performances.

This year, the ANZ banking corporation took the main prize.

And for the second year running, Rio Tinto was the runner-up (See also:

Rio Tinto wasn't the only mining company that got an award. Taking a supplementary "gold" (as it were) was Newmont Mining.

The following are extracts from the report:-

"There are just over 7,500 foreign-owned companies operating in New Zealand today. They represent only 2% of all firms in New Zealand - but their collective capital invested here is worth $91.4 billion, or 49% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Many of these foreign-owned companies are huge transnational corporations, or subsidiaries of huge transnational corporations. These are the big, market-dominating companies like Telecom, Westpac, British American Tobacco, Progressive Enterprises, Carter Holt Harvey, Monsanto, the late and unlamented Tranz Rail, and the misleadingly named Bank of New Zealand - to name just some of the previous Roger Award winners. It is these big companies which are making huge profits from New Zealanders, and sending those profits back to their shareholders and head offices overseas.

Regardless of whatever other damage they may be doing to New Zealand society and the New Zealand environment, this expatriation of the profits of the investments of foreign-owned companies operating in New Zealand has a major negative impact on New Zealand's economic wellbeing. In 2008 $16.6 billion in foreign investment income left New Zealand and only $2.9 billion came in, leaving a huge net deficit of $13.7 billion or 7.5% of GDP.

To put that amount of money in context, it is more than the contribution of agriculture to the NZ economy, and the same amount that was spent by the State in the Health budget that year.

...This reason alone is a sufficient reason to show the door to most of the transnationals already operating in New Zealand, and to shut the door on any more trying to get in. But wait - it gets worse. All transnational companies expatriate their profits, and this is perfectly legal, if not desirable for the NZ economy. So in taking nominations for the Roger Award, and in picking the annual winner, the Campaign Against Foreign Control in Aotearoa is looking for something more. It is looking for outrageously bad behaviour by a transnational, behaviour which is legally or morally dubious, and socially or environmentally reprehensible...

Runner Up: Rio Tinto Aluminium

Second place went to Rio Tinto Aluminium. Rio Tinto has also been a finalist for the Roger in past years. As the judges noted, Rio Tinto's continual exploitation of the nation's energy grid and the subsidies that it receives from taxpayers and electricity suppliers has indirectly and negatively affected most New Zealanders. Further, its blithe disregard of the environment and its massive carbon dioxide emissions stand to negatively impact upon the country (and the world) for many years into the future. Rio Tinto is a worthy runner up.

Newmont Mining

Newmont Mining is an Australian-owned mining firm* which has been responsible for open cast and underground mining near the town of Waihi. The social and environmental costs of mining are particularly significant in Waihi with a recent report undertaking by Queensland University detailing that Waihi residents live with employment uncertainty, losses in property values (after all, who wants to live next door or on top of a mine?) and physical uncertainty, due to cavities opening up in the ground due to mining, which then proceed to swallow anything around it (in one case, this happened to be a house) For those with a longer memory, cast your minds back 31 years and think of Abbotsford in Dunedin (the suburb that literally slid down a hill).

*MAC editorial note: Newmont is a US company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Its ancillary listing on the Australian Stock Exchange was cancelled in February 2010.

The Roger Award for The Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand in 2009

Organised by CAFCA & GATT Watchdog

ANZ Wins

Rio Tinto Aluminium NZ Ltd Second; Telecom Third

Auckland City Council & Its Officials Winner of Accomplice Award

The full Judges' Report is available at, follow the Roger Award links from the Homepage.

Finalists: ANZ, BNZ, Infratil, Newmont, Rio Tinto Aluminium NZ, Rymans, Telecom, Transpacific and Westpac. There were two finalists for the Accomplice Award - the Business Round Table, and the Auckland City Council and its officials (as part of the nomination of Transpacific Industries). Criteria: the transnational (a corporation which is 25% or more foreign-owned) which is worst in each or all of the following: Economic Dominance - Monopoly, profiteering, tax dodging, cultural imperialism. People - Unemployment, impact on tangata whenua, women, children, abuse of workers/conditions, health and safety of workers and the public, cultural imperialism. Environment - Environmental damage, abuse of animals. Political interference - Cultural imperialism, running an ideological crusade. Judges: Paul Corliss, from Christchurch, a life member of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union; Christine Dann, from Banks Peninsula, a writer and researcher; Bryan Gould, from Bay of Plenty, a former Waikato University Vice-Chancellor; Joce Jesson, a Senior Lecturer in Critical Studies in Education, University of Auckland and an activist in various community organisations; and Wayne Hope, Associate Professor, Communications Studies, Auckland University of Technology. The winner was announced at an event in Wellington on March 11th.

The Judges' Statement says that they had a tough time picking one out of the three banks which made the finalists but that: "ANZ has succeeded in winning the 2009 Roger Award because the ING funds fiasco is simply and plainly ‘pure greed capitalism' at its worst". The Financial Analysis of ANZ adds: "If the ING frozen funds fiasco tells us nothing else, it should tell us loud and clear that the days of regarding bankers as trusted advisers are over".

Rio Tinto Aluminium was runner up (for the second year running) because of its "blithe disregard of the environment and its massive carbon dioxide emissions" (among other reasons) and Telecom, a finalist for every single year of the Roger Award, was third because it "really excelled itself in providing poor service and treating its customers like rubbish" (among other reasons). Auckland City Council and its officials won the Accomplice Award for "helping to contract out Auckland's waste management to Transpacific and therefore acting as a template for future transference of public assets into private hands".

Murray Horton
Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa
Box 2258, Christchurch, New Zealand

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