Vote to end the AECT election rort

Photo Credit: Cathy Casey
Photo Credit: Cathy Casey

Six years ago I stood for public office for the first time. I put myself forward naively thinking it was an election of the most suitable candidates to be trustees of the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust (AECT) . I had no idea of the extremely long odds on any other candidate besides the incumbents having any chance of getting elected. The incumbents rely on low voter turnout, no media coverage and a dividend “bribe” to ensure they are returned as trustees. I wrote about my experience at the time .

The 2015 AECT election has just started with voting papers arriving in mailboxes from Friday 16 October.  Postal voting continues until 30 October (postal votes need to be in the mail by 26 October to be sure of arriving)

AECT district
AECT district

Predictably the incumbent C&R team are taking exactly the same approach to the 2006 and 2009 elections – relying on the same bribe* blatantly splashed on their hoardings, voter apathy and a media blackout – but then why wouldn’t they accept this election gift. By chipping approx $10,000 each in to an election fund used to direct mail 25,000 voters the C&R team are pretty much guaranteed to be re-elected. They then get to share an annual pot of trustee fees of $342,500 to share between them, as well as a couple of directorships on the board of the trust’s only asset, its 75 per cent stake in power company Vector Ltd.

However this election I really do hope the outcome will be different.  City Vision is backing a forward thinking, talented team  – Anne-Marie Coury,

City Vision team for AECT
City Vision team for AECT

Jeanette Elley, Simon Mitchell, Kirk Serpes and Judith Tizard. A team that stands for protecting community ownership and the dividend, and future proofing the electricity network for smart clean technology . They have the potential to bring much needed new thinking and diversity to AECT.

But the only way to get new people on to the trust and to put an end to C&R’s election rort is if we all encourage everyone we know who lives within the AECT district to check the mail box and to return the ballot papers on time.

* According to the AECT candidate handbook relevant election offences as contained in the Local Electoral Act 2001, and adopted for the
purposes of this election include 
S125   Bribery

(1) Every person commits the offence of bribery who, directly or indirectly, on that person’s own or by another person,-
(a) gives, lends, agrees to give or lend, offers, promises, or promises to obtain any money or valuable consideration
to or for any elector, or to or for any person on behalf of any elector, or to or for any other person, in order to induce any elector to vote or refrain from voting

How the Local Electoral Act applies to the AECT election as advised by the Electoral Officer

The AECT election is not conducted under the Local Electoral Act 2001 (as are council elections for example) but under their own Deed of Trust. Under the Deed of Trust the returning officer is responsible for conducting the election and to the extent that the Deed of Trust Rules do not prescribe a particular matter, the returning officer is entitled to determine the procedure accordingly. Section 125 of the Local Electoral Act is therefore not directly applicable, however behaviour amounting to an offence under that Act could also be of concern to me in conducting the AECT election.

Further reading:

City Vision AECT team website

Power cash handout an asset for all of us, Brian Rudman, NZ Herald 4 September

Complaint over Auckland Energy Consumer Trust election billboard, NZ Herald 22 October