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How Transparent is a Wall of Silence?

How Transparent is a Wall of Silence?

Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty are set to host the strangest election campaign seen in this country.

Power Rebates Team member Ron Scott asked today "How transparent is a wall of silence?"

This was in response to a letter in Thursday's Bay of Plenty Times from TECT Deputy Chairman Bruce Cronin. The letter stated that the current Chairman wouldn't comment on issues raised by other candidates in the upcoming TECT elections because he is standing as a candidate! He went on to say that TECT was transparent!

"This is the first time I have seen someone campaigning on anonymity" said Mr Scott.

The TECT elections are held over June and with only two weeks to go before ballot papers are sent out only three candidates have been prepared to tell the voters what they stand for.

Ron Scott, Frances Denz and Russell Watkins who make up the Power Rebates Team are standing on a three point platform:
1. Return all TECT income to Trustpower Customers in the Western Bay of Plenty in the form of an annual cheque worth an average $366
2. Refuse any increase in trustee fees
3. Eliminate waste in TECT administration

"The TECT chairman has been asked by both print and electronic media but he just won't front to the voters. Is he ashamed of his policies?" asked Mr Scott.

"Mr Cronin said that the annual plan is published and that TECT has an annual meeting so consumers should be satisfied with that.

"What would people think if Helen Clark said "We've presented our budget so read it. We don't need to engage with the voters before the election." They would think she was barmy or hiding something.

The annual meeting is held at 2pm on a weekday afternoon - hardly the most convenient time for most people.

The Power Rebate Team has very clear policies. In particular they will return all income to Trustpower customers - an average annual cheque of $366 every year. In the last eleven years consumers have only received a rebate of $90 on average.

The other candidates want to spend the consumer's rebates on various projects including the controversial museum and art gallery which are otherwise paid for by rates.

"Paying for these projects is effectively a rates increase. No wonder the trustees don't want to actually face the voters on that one" said Mr Scott. "Our rates are already going up by 16% in Tauranga.

TECT has given $8 million to the Council swimming pool in Bayfair.
"A consumer in Katikati has paid $133 for their share of this pool. They have to pay $50 for a tank full of petrol and $6 to use the thing. How likely is that?" asked Mr Scott.

Administration costs for TECT have also been under the spotlight with trustees almost doubling their fees by claiming expenses for travel and meetings.
Expenses include the current huge cost of half page advertisements which according to Mr Cronin highlight the current trustees' policies. It is not clear if these are counted as campaign expenses or not.

The Power Rebates Team will cut wastage in administration and will not accept any increase in trustee fees.
"In fact because we will have less meetings we fully expect to reduce Trustee fees.
"How an organisation can spend $685,821 when the distribution to most community organisations comes from a pot of $600,000 beats me" said Mr Scott.

Ron Scott, Frances Denz and Russell Watkins are keen to talk to voters. They have been interviewed by radio (current trustees turned down the opportunity) and written to newspapers (current trustees refused to be interviewed).

We are even thinking of having a public meeting if we sense the demand for one" said Mr Scott.


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