Councils Concerned as Vector Delays
The three Auckland Councils involved in Court action with the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust are very concerned that proceedings to clarify a proposed payout to consumers connected to Vector, have been unnecessarily delayed by the actions of the Trust’s company, Vector Limited.
“Vector has insisted on being involved in the proceeding. As a result, the hearing is delayed until April next year at the earliest. Vector has also indicated that it will oppose the production of documents that would show what the capital portion of the dividend in fact is. The information we want – what is income, and what is capital – shouldn’t be too difficult to provide. One is left wondering why we can’t get it,” says Mayor Chris Fletcher.
“We need the information so that Auckland’s legacy can be safeguarded. We want to hold onto a capital fund, for future investment in infrastructure.
Manukau City, Auckland City and Papakura District Council sought clarification about the nature of the $107 million distribution by the Trust to consumers connected to Vector. The Councils want to know what proportion of this distribution is capital (derived from asset sales) and which part is income – and therefore able to be given out to consumers. Under a section of the Trustee Act (1956), the Councils as “capital beneficiaries” are able to ask the Court for clarification. If it sees fit, the Court is able to restrain the distribution of money which is identified as “capital” so that this capital remains available to meet the future needs of Auckland for infrastructure.
When it looked like the distribution could go ahead without the Court having heard the matter, the Councils lodged an application for interim injunction to restrain distribution. The result of lodging the injunction was that the Court hearing date was brought forward to 2 December.
On Friday, Vector Limited, which is owned by the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust, stepped in and declared it had “an interest” in the matter. Previously, the matter had been solely between the Trust and the Councils. The company - supported by the Trust and by counsel for the income beneficiaries – argued that the clarification requested by Councils could affect their commercial decision making in the future. They asked for the matter to be delayed until next year.
“It’s ironic that it’s the Trust and Vector asking for a delay, since the Trust has been trying to push through payment without clarification. Now they’re delaying. We want the matter heard quickly, so that the income portion of the $107 million can be given out to consumers and the rest protected for Auckland’s future,” says Mayor Fletcher.