On Tuesday morning I saw another Talking Point in HB Today from one of the "power of five" collective candidates standing for the Hawke's Bay Power Consumers' Trust election.

When I arrived at work, a colleague was eager for me to respond and volunteered that I share her story of how important the dividend has been to her over the years during times of financial difficulties and how strongly she feels about the consumers' right to continue to receive the dividend.

Unison is a consumer owned company and the dividend belongs to the consumer, to do with as they see fit. It is not the role of the trustees to arrogantly make those decisions for the consumer. There are so many people in our community who really rely on, or enjoy, receiving the cheque.

And although the days of a physical cheque are very much numbered, the right of the consumer to that dividend will continue.


Whatever the "power of five" are saying publicly now, their leaders have been saying in public for many, many months on multiple occasions that they intend to divert some of the dividend to community projects.

I suspect they did not count on the strong public backlash and are now furiously back pedalling in order to regain popular opinion. Myself, Diana Kirton and Ken Gilligan are now accused of "scaremongering" despite merely stating what the group have said themselves.

I hope it does need to be said that I am a supporter of community projects, but it is not the intent of our Power Trust Deed for the trust to fulfil that role. Other trusts nationally, which are community trusts rather than consumer trusts do that, and fund various selected community projects, but this is not something the people who crafted our trust deed intended.

There are a lot of red herrings and misinformation being bandied about by this collective to muddy the waters. For instance, the "power of five" group are now heavily critical of the governance record of the trust, concerns that Kevin Atkinson, in 18 years as a Unison director and 8 years as chairman, had never previously mentioned either formally or informally. I find it ironic that they cite the lack of trust transparency when they are, I believe, now being disingenuous themselves.

I stand by the record of the trust. We have said all along we want to pass on the maximum dividend to consumers and this has not, and will not, change.

I encourage everyone to vote for the existing trustees, Helen Francis, Diana Kirton and Ken Gilligan. We are committed to passing on the maximum dividend to consumers.

Do not put your dividend at risk by voting for a group who have already publically flip-flopped over their intentions.

We stand by our commitment to Your Cheque. Your Choice.

Helen Francis, PhD, is a registered nurse and senior manager in primary health care. She is an elected member of Hawke's Bay District Health Board and Hawke's Bay Power Consumers' Trust. She is a candidate in the Hawke's Bay Power Consumers' Trust election.
Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: editor@hbtoday.co.nz