A Chamber board member writes about AECT


There is much scrambling occurring behind the scenes after Michelle Boag’s little plan to raid the AECT consolidated fund and hand the cash to Len Brown was rumbled.

A humber of people named are now backing away from the plan, and some feel they have been mis-represented by their attendance at Kim ‘The Clown’ Campbell’s little meeting the other day.

Clearly people are frustrated at the Boagan’s old school whispering campaign and it looks and sounds like the Chamber is running a million miles away from her nationalisation/theft scheme.

One Chamber of Commerce board member writes:

Dear Cameron,

I have long been a reader of your blog, and appreciate that you have a desire to put the truth out in front of your readers.

I also understand that you suspect the motives of some people, and use your blog to raise these issues into the sunlight.

I know that you accept that you don’t always get it right, and have, in the past, been happy to acknowledge this, and apologise accordingly.

Your recent attack on Michael Barnett and the Chamber of Commerce is one of those errors.

I am not a neutral bystander in this, and write as someone who chose to be a Director of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce. This choice was made through years of watching the way the Chamber, and Michael work.

The Chamber is the rational voice of business within Auckland. An organisation which works to make sure that the physical and political landscape is shaped to serve the interests of Auckland, by ensuring that the business environment is the best it can be.

This is not an easy task, and for many years the Chamber has worked away to ensure that business has a rational and respected voice.

Michael has been a voice promoting initially the need for significant transport projects in Auckland, and then promoting the debate on where the funding will come from. Auckland faces a dramatic shortfall in funding for transport projects whether or not the Central Rail Link is built.

Government has accepted the Central Rail Link case, and has said that it will provide funding when certain conditions are met, and after a certain date if they are not.

The debate that needs to happen is for Auckland City to determine where it will source its funding, and how it will achieve that.

The only way for this to happen fairly is to bring all of the options on to the table, and work out which ones are available for use.

The Auckland Energy Consumer Trust is simply one of those options. Once brought to the table it can be parked again, because it is not available for use until the trust is dissolved in my personal view. I will be dead when that occurs in the later part of this century. It does need to be part of the debate so that its place can be publicly reported and recorded.

Michael Barnett and The Chamber of Commerce defended the AECT in the High Court, and won, when Politicians tried to take it away previously. Michael, and the Chamber, would be there again if anyone else tried to do so. He was then, and is now, a champion for the AECT.

That does not mean that the debate should not happen. It should. But the AECT should rightly be then taken back off the table to continue in the role that it was intended. The sale of other assets needs also to be part of that debate. The ownership of assets like the Ports of Auckland, Auckland International Airport and Water care as examples also need to be part of that debate.

Your piece is simply not accurate.

Michael was part of the team which saved the Auckland Santa Parade. Without his efforts then it would not be here today. That is simply Michael and The Chamber doing their part of Auckland. No kudos are required, but understanding that the parade exists because of the efforts of those you attacked is necessary.

The Equal Opportunities Trust promotes the need for equality, and the Chamber puts its member’s money where its mouth is by training and helping a wide range of people into jobs and into a productive area of the community. The Chamber runs a number of programs which have changed the lives of the participants and made Auckland a better place as a result.

I have never heard Michael discuss Alex Swney as a friend.

The recent Herald speculation about potential Mayoral candidates for the next election was just speculation. Michael has not put his hand up. If he did choose to do so however he would make an outstanding candidate, and the Chamber would lose an exceptional CEO.

Perhaps the Chamber doesn’t publicise its efforts in a way that brings its notice to the wider community, so that many, including yourself, are not aware of the contribution it makes. That level of publicity takes money and resource, and that is better placed in doing the job rather than publicising a then diminished effort.

I believe that in your desire to attack one person you have done considerable collateral damage to a person and an organisation who should not be associated with your campaign.

In many cases you have brought items to public notice that need “disinfectant”.

If you were correct I would not be able to serve as a Director.

In this case you are simply wrong.

In this case I am happy to sit on the Board of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, and support our CEO Michael Barnett in providing business leadership to Auckland.


Chris Carr.

So it seems there is no appetite from within the Chamber of Commerce to see a naked grab for the cash of the AECT occur…in face it certainly looks like they oppose such a move.

The Boagan’s little club of elves seems to have developed a case of the vapours.


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  • Raibert

    Surely the issue here is about clarity not intent. If the Chamber wants to discuss / influence funding options for Auckland the appropriate place was to make a submission to the “independent”committee that has already reported back to the council as all other interested parties did.
    If they believe the outcomes from the process so far are inadequate then say so publicly and get the debate restarted. It is not seemly for the Chamber to become involved in political machinations of which the outcome will be an increase in profits for a few at the expense of a large number of Aucklands residents.

  • Aucky

    I will only be comfortable once a total rejection of this rort comes directly from the mouth of Michael Barnett. Come on Michael, it’s not that difficult.

    • Alright

      Pick up the telephone and ring him Aucky.

      • Aucky

        He needs to tell Auckland not me.

  • Well to me this sounds like a back-out. “putting all options on the table and the AECT being one of those options”. What a load of tosh. It was never a legal option and should not have been tabled in the first place. I find this letter distasteful as a thinly disguised “turn the tables” response in an attempt to blame WO as misguided. In fact without WO publicising this proposed raid on the Trust to a responsible readership greater than the Herald they might just have been able to get at it. We all know which skewed lawyers would have been used to rob the electricity consumers of what is rightfully theirs.

    • elton_fred

      Unfortunately for consumers in the AECT area the position under the trust deed appears to be exactly what is proposed – I can see no provision in the deed for shares to transfer to consumers, only dividend income. Upon termination of the trust the shares revert to the local authority of the day.

  • Goldfish

    While some Oilers may not buy that explanation, I do. It’s well worded, and adds context.

    It’s easy to grab a snippet of news and run with it, but in doing so that all important context can be missing.

    Given this explanation, it should be easy enough to wrap this story up by asking the right questions to the right people.

    • Alright

      You are correct Goldfish – its about perspective and context (like our lives really).

      Oilers can’t condemn the MSM for being brain dead and then avoid the reality that they can often circumvent “information brokers” by simply asking those who have the answers direct questions and allowing them to answer in their own words.

      Opinion masquerading as “news” does not constitute facts.

  • KGB

    My issue it the fact that a discussion took place at all. As an Auckland rate-payer I have witnessed obscene waste and I suspect corruption of AC funds of the last few years. This waste and the secrecy around AC contracts and AC assets has escalated under LB’s reign. I am angry.
    Though I believe Auckland needs a better transport system, I do not believe ‘this’ AC should be building it. They’re inept.
    Now AC is broke, LB wants to lumber us with his train set. If the AC had been more frugal and worked towards this big expenditure that would be different.
    When we watch our children blow their money on flash cars, holidays, and curved TV’s, do we then lend them money to buy a house? Hell no.
    If you are reading this Chris, the role of the Board should have been to advise the AC to pull it’s head in. Be the parent, represent our interests, Auckland’s interests.
    Though I believe 49% of all AC shares in Auckland Airport, Ports & WaterCare should be sold. I will oppose any sale of assets under this current management because they simply can’t be trusted.

    • Alright

      Dead right KGB. The whole debate about the rail loop has been derailed by Len Brown’s utter mismanagement of his personal life and the city (eg think State House at the Viaduct, etc, etc, etc, etc).

      Len Brown has personally corrupted the whole debate about what might be in our best interests.

      He is a despot with a ruined brand, and I wouldn’t vote to sell one share in anything if he had control over how the money was spent.