The AECT money grab

I would like to thank Cam Slater for bringing the attempt to hijack the huge Auckland Energy Consumers Trust money to buy a train set.  That money belongs to the Electricity Consumers, and is held “in Trust” on their behalf.  The interest on that money is distributed to the consumers in a handsome annual check.

While I can sympathise with the Aucklanders as they grapple with the powerful, I have a major concern that if they did manage to change the legislation, Tauranga will try to follow suit.  Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust (TECT) has a value of around $850 million.  It distributes 80% of its dividends to their consumers who live in the original area of Trust Power when it was privatised, and 20% to the community organisations for things like equipment, buildings and events.  The cheques to the consumers this year were around $350 per Trust Power  household.  This money is really important to those with limited resources.  It has saved many a household’s finances, because it is a large enough sum to make a difference.

Some years ago the consumers voted to retain the 80-20 split by a good majority, in spite of a push by some who wanted all the money to go to community organisations, Councils etc.

The battle was fierce for this big pot of money.  My personal position has always been that the money made a huge difference to the very poor, and that big organisations such as the Councils, golf clubs etc could find their own money, not take it off the poor.

The previous Chair of TECT was a man of absolute principle, and he was staunch in his support of the 80-20 principle as that was the result of a democratic vote.  But what about the future?  Can we be sure that new board members will not be seduced by the “big idea” and let the money be taken for our local equivalence of a train set?  The University  of Waikato has already been approved for a large grant from TECT for a building in the CBD.  What happens when they keep coming back for more?

When the next elections come around, we will need to be assiduous in our questioning of potential trustees to ensure we know where they stand on this issue.  Do they want to take it away from those who personally need it badly to give it to those who are already big and powerful?

And if the rich and powerful believe they can break long standing trusts because they want the money, where will it end?  There are other Trusts all over the country ripe for a take-over.  This is morally wrong on all counts and I am dismayed that so many people are prepared to put their name to what is surely theft and is certainly totally unprincipled.  In fact it is asset stripping from the poor to the rich.  We cannot and must not let that happen.

Frances Denz MNZM

 


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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