/State Insurance has been listed as one of six finalists for the 2015 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
The Australian insurer appears alongside Apple, Bunnings, MediaWorks, Serco and Westpac in what is its fourth consecutive nomination.
The criteria for judging the awards, organised by the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA), involves those transnational corporations (TNCs) (more than 25% foreign-owned) that have had the most negative impact in categories including People, Environment, Political interference, and Economic dominance.
The two reasons given for IAG
’s nomination this year were firstly its economic dominance, citing that ‘a significant portion’ of IAG
’s Canterbury quake costs were disclosed in the ‘lower tax jurisdiction of Singapore’ and thus paid ‘an unusually low tax rate of 10% in the first half of 2015’.
It also cited CEO Jacki Johnson’s $4.59 million salary, which put her as the highest paid CEO in New Zealand for the 2014/15 financial year.
The second reason given for IAG
’s nomination was its impact on people, with CAFCA saying IAG
was ‘making life hell for thousands of Christchurch people’.
While it accepted there were also other companies involved, it said IAG
was ‘the biggest and some of its practices are the worst’.
“In 2015 State has pressurized its ‘too hard cases’ in Christchurch to accept a cash settlement and become responsible for their own repairs or rebuilds. This means State wants to walk away from its contractual obligations to those customers,” CAFCA said, adding that some State customers were living in caravans and garages.
“Things have got so bad IAG
is among the insurance companies and Government bodies which are the subject of a claim to the OECD for breaches of its Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises,” it went on.
“As has been said before in previous Roger Awards, what has happened, and is continuing to happen in Christchurch, sets a very bad precedent for what the rest of the country can expect from IAG
/State and the other insurance TNCs in the event of a major disaster.”
has responded to the nomination saying it was concerned at the lack of understanding shown by the organisers of the role insurance played following damaging events.
head of corporate affairs, Craig Dowling
, said: “Our scale has been important in helping secure insurance support for Canterbury over an extended period of seismic uncertainty.
“It is naïve to say it’s five years since the earthquakes, when most who live in the region know the seismic activity triggered by the initial earthquake in September didn’t abate for a year and a half, and it took even longer for experts to understand the complexity of land damage caused by the energy unleashed by the earthquakes.”
He said it was also naïve to claim IAG
was responsible for delays on the one hand, and then that they were pressuring for cash settlements on the other.
“The facts are that we are working tirelessly to oversee one of the biggest and most complex rebuild programmes New Zealand has ever seen but also seeking to offer choice to customers struggling with a managed rebuild process.”
Dowling said the earthquake response had seen the vast majority of customers helped back on their feet, and while things hadn’t gone perfectly for everyone ‘we have been upfront when things have gone wrong for our customers, said sorry, and always done our best to put things right’.
He said: “It is always disappointing for us when some expectations aren’t met but we will hold our ground when those expectations are unreasonable and the expectations of those administering this award process don’t seem grounded in reality.
“We are proud of our people and their role in helping New Zealanders day in and day out, and we won’t let this distract us in any way from the efforts across our brands to be there for our customers.”
The judges, who are set to announced the winner next April, are David Small, a lawyer and Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Canterbury; Dean Parker, Auckland writer and former Writers’ Guild delegate to the Council of Trade Unions; Dennis Maga, union activist from the May First Movement Philippines, organiser of FIRST Union and founder of Migrante and UNEMIG; Sue Bradford, community activist with Auckland Action Against Poverty and the Left think tank project; former Green MP; and Deborah Russell, feminist, social and political commentator and tax expert, Tertiary Education Union member, and candidate for the Labour Party in 2014.