2003 Roger Award Finalists Chosen:
A Bumper Crop This Year

- Murray Horton

The finalists have been chosen for the 2003 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand. There are eight transnational corporations (TNCs), a record number - the previous highest figure was six. They are (in no particular order of preference): Telecom, Carter Holt Harvey, Comalco, ANZ, Newmont Mining (Waihi Gold), Rymans, Juken Nissho and BAT (British American Tobacco). What a splendid bunch of villains! They include one previous winner (Carter Holt Harvey) and one runner up (BAT). The likes of Telecom, Juken Nissho, Comalco and the ANZ bank have all been nominated before, some more than once. Newmont Mining (Waihi Gold) is a newcomer and Rymans is the bolter of the field.

As the first, and thus far sole, occupant of the Hall of Shame, three times winner Tranz Rail was ineligible for nomination this year.

Dunedin is to host the event to announce the winner(s). It will be held in February 2004. This will be the first time that Dunedin has hosted the Roger Award event (the first three were held in Christchurch; one in Wellington, and the last two in Auckland). The organisers - CAFCA and GATT Watchdog - are pleased that the only major city not to have thus far hosted the Roger will now do so. And Dunedin is even more appropriate because of the high profile role played by its Mayor, Sukhi Turner, who has been a judge several times, from the very beginning, and is again this year.

The judges are (in addition to Sukhi Turner): Dr Ranginui Walker, Emeritus Professor at the University of Auckland; John Minto, veteran Auckland activist and National Chairperson of the Quality Public Education Coalition; Alister Barry, documentary maker, of Wellington; and Jill Hawkey, of Christchurch, National Director of Christian World Service.

The criteria for judging are by assessing the transnational that has the most negative impact in New Zealand in each or all of the following fields: unemployment, monopoly, profiteering, abuse of workers/conditions, political interference/running an ideological crusade, environmental damage, cultural imperialism, impact on tangata whenua, impact on women, health and safety of workers and the public.

The Roger Award is more necessary than ever when viewed in light of the Government’s announced review of the Overseas Investment Act, with one possibility being that of removing all Overseas Investment Commission oversight of corporate takeovers (see cover story), and treating them as just another company transaction. Foreign control in the corporate sector completely dwarfs foreigners’ purchases of rural land (which gets all the attention). Just reading the criteria why the above eight TNCs have been selected as finalists for the 2003 Roger Award reminds us of the huge crime perpetrated on the people of New Zealand by a system that permits our country to be converted into a backwater branch office of the corporations that rule the world.

We will bring you the Judges’ Report in the next Watchdog. Good luck to all the finalists. And may the worst man win!

By the way, the Roger Award has now gone international. Two non-government organisations in Fiji have announced the Drau-Ni-Salato Award for the Worst TNC in Fiji in 2003, which they say is inspired by, and modelled on, the Roger Award. They chose the title drau-ni-salato because, in Fijian, it refers to the leaf of a plant that causes an irritating itch.

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Foreign Control Watchdog, P O Box 2258, Christchurch, New Zealand/Aotearoa. August 2003.

Email cafca@chch.planet.org.nz

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