East & Bays Courier – 6 October 2016 – By Mary Fitzgerald:
Outgoing Orakei ward councillor Cameron Brewer hopes for a less defensive council in the next term.
At his final council meeting on September 29, centre-right Brewer gave his valedictory speech to the governing body.
In his six years in office, Brewer has been a vocal critic of left-leaning Mayor Len Brown.
During his speech he made no apology for publicly holding the Mayoral Office, the Independent Maori Statutory Board, and council controlled organisations to account and called them out on some of their spending decisions.
Regarding council matters Brewer said, “it has become increasingly and unnecessarily involved in micro-managing it’s reputation … [I hope] with a fresh mandate next month that this organisation becomes much less defensive, more trusting, and open to all”.
Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse had plenty of praise for her fellow councillor on the opposite side of the political spectrum.
“There is no doubt Cameron was a strong contributor to debate at council meetings,” she said.
“He positioned himself as opposition councillor to the mayor.
“He was focussed on problems and it would have been good if he had been able to offer solutions and lead projects, but Rodney may be a good opportunity for him to do this,” Hulse said.
Brewer became an established eastern suburbs personality during his five-year chief executive tenure with the Newmarket Business Association in the heady consumer-driven frisson prior to the global financial crisis.
In 2010 he stepped away from the business association position to challenge the Orakei ward’s Citizens and Ratepayers deputy leader Doug Armstrong.
Brewer caused upset amongst the party faithful, standing as an independent challenging the establishment Citizens and Ratepayer stalwart.
He won the seat with a total of 18,228 people voting for him, making him the fifth highest polling Auckland councillor.
Brewer described his 2010 political campaign to win the Orakei seat as “pretty much a one-man band as people quickly observed, but I managed to gather the public on my side and for that I will always be grateful”.
He was re-elected unopposed in 2013. “He has certainly been a passionate representative for Orakei and he represented the local board well,” Hulse said.
Brewer is a Massey University graduate in history. Previously he has worked as press secretary for former Auckland City Mayor John Banks, and former ACT leader Rodney Hide.
He also spent two years as former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley’s political press secretary.
Brewer did not seek re-election for the next term for the Orakei seat, having moved to the Helensville electorate. He is standing for a seat on the Rodney Local Board.
During his speech he reflected on his major achievements, saying he was pleased with the role he played shining light on Auckland Council’s rising debt levels and annual interest bill, and the significant rates for some areas.
He also mentioned highlighting the Uniform Annual General Charge and ensuring it was debated annually, the call to honour a nearly 20-year commitment of narrowing the business rating differential, and challenging the ever-decreasing amount of detail around the operational budget.
During his time as Orakei councillor Brewer has worked on bringing the construction of a new Meadowbank Community Centre closer, secured new transport-related project funding, and helped toward convincing councillors that council needed to buy the 19-hectare sports ground, Colin Maiden Park, in St Johns.
The Orakei ward covers the city’s eastern suburbs including Remuera, Meadowbank, St Johns, Stonefields, Orakei, Mission Bay, Kohimarama, St Heliers and Glendowie.