Annual dividend from energy trust handy to lower-paid but now others, motivated by money, are eyeing it.

Back in 1993 as neoliberal privatisation was sweeping through this country, the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust, or AECT, was set up as one of 29 energy trusts to keep the power lines in the hands of existing consumers. Ownership would remain with the people whose money helped to build these assets in the first place, or in the case of AECT, Vector Energy.

Now, there is a group of people who want to get rid of the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust.

They want to take away from the people with Vector supply agreements in the old Auckland, Manukau and Papakura council areas an annual dividend that was worth $335 this year.

This may sound like chicken-feed to the well-heeled who now wish to dismantle the trust, but it means a great deal to the Aucklanders who receive it.


Around 80 per cent of the trust beneficiaries fall into the lowest two income tax rates. For many, this annual dividend payment is how they buy a new pair of shoes, pay their winter heating bill or buy Christmas gifts for their children or grandchildren.

There were 29 trusts in 1993 but they now number 22; because the promise of a quick buck has seen others sell off the family silver. Not so the wise people of Auckland, Manukau and Papakura, who kept their power lines and get a helpful dividend as a result.

So what's the motivation of these people who want to fix what isn't broken?

Out of Dr Seuss come the Grinches who wish to steal your Christmas. They want to take the $335 dividend you got this year off you. Not just this year, but next year and every year thereafter. They want to take money off people who are already stretched - pensioners, fixed or low-income families and welfare recipients - to give to the even richer.

There is a clear and orchestrated attack on the AECT under way, which is motivated by money - pure and simple. The so-called Auckland "Super City" is spending like a drunken sailor and to pay all of the bills it is steadily racking up, this group wishes to pawn your ownership and rights in the trust.

These people want to wind up the AECT in a strange marriage of neoliberal ideology and socialism.

The instigators are right-wingers who believe the Auckland Council they pushed to create, not you or me I hasten to add, has the right to your trust's capital.

They are in cahoots with the left-wingers running the council and are destined to ask the Government to nationalise your trust to feed the "Super City's" spending machine.


Their clubby interests are quite separate from those of Auckland's broader population, or New Zealand.

If the Government does nationalise the trust from right underneath mum and dad beneficiaries, then what does that mean for the future of the other 22 trusts?

If these people do get their way, they'll steal $2.1 billion off present and future income beneficiaries over the next 60 years.

That means $2.1 billion will not flow into the community but will instead be given to those who didn't build the asset in the first place.

This is an outrageous power grab, if you excuse the pun, and what will happen is not difficult to predict.

A desperate Auckland Council will do what the Government is forcing on Christchurch and Vector will be flicked off to the highest foreign bidder.

You can guess where this motivation is coming from too. Bankers, PR lobbyists and lawyers, many of whom championed the sale of state assets.

With so many assets sold what's next is the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust and Vector Energy.

If the Prime Minister is smart, he'll keep well clear of this pile of acrid self-interest, especially when a online NBR poll showed an overwhelming 80 per cent of respondents viewed this proposal as "an outrageous act of expropriation".

The question is this, will he?

Winston Peters is the leader of New Zealand First.