Peace groups have written to Minister of Transport Michael Wood seeking the cancellation of a contract with Cubic Corporation for the provision of a public transport ticketing system. Cubic provides weapons training systems, including training on the notorious Predator and Reaper drone systems.
“We are calling on the Minister to intervene and cancel this contract. Overwhelmingly New Zealanders do not want their money invested in weapons companies, yet the government continues to sign large contracts with global weapons dealers handing over tax dollars that strengthen these very companies,” said Valerie Morse, member of Peace Action Wellington.
“Cubic Corporation is a US-based weapons company. They make their money by promoting Islamophobic images where Muslim men are identified as targets.”
“Given the Christchurch massacre and growing Islamophobia in Aotearoa NZ, it is obscene that a government department is signing contracts with a company that directly profits from promoting religious and ethnic violence.”
“The NZ government needs to institute some ethical investment parameters for government contracts. It does not make sense to talk about addressing violent extremism and the growth of militarism on one hand, as the government has done just this year, and on the other hand, sign state contracts with companies that are actively engaged in those things.”
“Aside from Cubic’s Islamophobic war profiteering, the company’s New Zealand subsidiary has a history of evading export controls for military goods. It is not a good look for the government to be doing business with a company that has such a background.”
“The quick and easy way to solve this problem is to make public transport free across the whole country. Then we don’t need a ticketing system, and we don’t need to deal with a weapons company. It would also go a long way to easing the soaring cost of transport and climate emissions at the same time.”
“We call on the Minister to take urgent action and stop this contract now.”
The letter was authored by Peace Action Wellington, Auckland Peace Action, the Foundation Against Islamophobia & Racism, and the Director of the National Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies at Otago University.
Here is the letter in full:
Honourable Michael Wood
Minister of Transport
1 November 2022
Tēnā koe Minister,
We are alarmed at news that Waka Kotahi is intending to partner with global weapons dealer Cubic Corporation on a new national ticketing system. You need to take immediate action to stop this contract.
You should be particularly alarmed that Cubic promotes its weapons-training systems by showing the targeting of men dressed in robes. This is a clear illustration of its institutional Islamophobia. It is totally unacceptable. The New Zealand Government should not deal with companies that specifically use Islamophobic imagery.
As part of the reckoning of the country following the massacre of 15 March 2019, it is imperative that the NZG take real and practical steps to eliminate opportunities for anyone to profit from Islamophobia. This is such a situation.
Cubic does training for US military Predator and Reaper drones. These are weapons used almost entirely in Islamic countries, and are intimately tied to the illegal US drone assassination programme.
Quite aside from the company’s Islamophobia, we are concerned about Cubic NZ’s historical violations of New Zealand’s rules regarding export permits for trade in strategic military goods, and the provision to the Israeli Defence Force of military use training gear despite a permit being declined by MFAT.
Cubic is involved in sales of high tech defence programmes to countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. The human rights record of these participating countries seems to be no barrier to Cubic’s support for the global arms race in these outposts of global militarism, which may be expected to fall into line with the US Global Alliance in the event of future international conflicts.
For the integrity of our information privacy and independence of the functioning of New Zealand’s civilian population, we strongly disapprove of Cubic being awarded the contract of managing our public transport payment system. We ask you to review this decision and apply ethical standards in awarding the contract to a non-military aligned provider, as is within your power to do so.
The quick and easy way to solve this problem is to make public transport free across the whole country. Then we don’t need a ticketing system, and we don’t need to deal with a weapons company. It would also go a long way to easing the soaring cost of transport and climate emissions at the same time.
We expect you, a Labour MP who is well respected in the movements we align with, will take steps to ensure our transport system is not part of the military industrial complex that profits from Islamophobia and the evasion of export controls on military goods.
Ngā mihi nui,
Valerie Morse, Peace Action Wellington
Eliana Darroch, Auckland Peace Action
Azad Khan, Foundation Against Islamophobia and Racism
Dr Richard Jackson, National Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies