Update to Gifts Register
And some friendly advice for Cameron
From Councillor Cameron Brewer on declaring his gifts and interests:
Council ‘confirms Brewer’s trip was in gift register’
Sunday, 22 December, 2013 – 13:08
Auckland Council Electoral Officer and Public Information Officer Bruce Thomas has confirmed with Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer today that while he did not file a full “Register of Members’ Interests” annual statement by 30 June 2012, Brewer’s much criticised four-day sponsored trip to Australia was in fact declared by the Councillor for Orakei at the time and was subsequently in the Council gift register all along.
In a surprise turn, Mr Thomas advised Mr Brewer in an email today that “You did however declare the Port Douglas trip and this was included in the gift register. A copy of the gift register was given to the Ernst Young Inquiry.”
In an email to Mr Thomas from Mr Brewer on 8 September 2011, Mr Brewer wrote
“Bruce, please declare… 1 trip to Port Douglas courtesy of Mediaworks, Four nights in august. Value approximately 2k. Secondly, my partner and I are in SkyCity box for opening night and game tomorrow. Cost unknown. Please let me know what further information you require. Thanks Cameron”
Mr Brewer was responding to an email by Mr Thomas titled ‘Code of Conduct – Declaration of Gifts’ he had sent to all elected representatives the day before on Wednesday 7 September 2011.
The email read: “Dear Councillors and Local Board Members, with the Rugby World Cup about to start, I thought it prudent to remind you of your obligation to declare gifts in excess of $300. Some of the ticket and hospitality packages that you (and your partner) may be offered by a third party are likely to exceed $300. If you suspect this to be the case then you should advise myself and we will log it and ensure it is recorded as part of you declaration on 30 June 2012.”
Mr Brewer said he is very pleased to learn that he did in fact formally advise the council of the trip soon after his return, and that it was subsequently officially declared in the gift register.
However he says he stands by his statement he posted earlier today on Facebook, where he apologised for being one of the councilors who did not file a full public and formal Register of Members’ Interests declaration on 30 June 2012. As part of his apology Mr Brewer has made a donation to the City Mission. However he is now pleased to retract part of his Facebook statement where he says he did not declare the trip in 2011.
His Facebook statement read: “After much reflection, this morning I visited the Auckland City Mission and made a personal donation of $1,000. They’re under enormous pressure this Christmas. I did this because I wanted to make amends and show my supporters and critics that I am genuinely sorry for not declaring that four-day sponsored trip to Australia in 2011 and along with others for not filing a ‘Declaration Of Interests’ statement in 2012. Last week I submitted my declaration for 2013. I was really disappointed with myself when a reporter reminded me of this trip. I simply hadn’t given it another thought. But there are no excuses and I offer none. I will learn from this mistake. Every week over the past three years I have called for greater accountability and transparency at Auckland Council. I then came up short myself. I am not a wealthy person and so this gesture aims to show my genuine contrition and humility – nothing more, nothing less. I look forward to representing ratepayers the best I can next year.”
Mr Brewer says this new information and his apology will hopefully shift the spotlight back on where it needs to be.
The spotlight Councillor Brewer still will remain firmly on the oppositional five Councillors including yourself who were actually mortally wounded after the No Confidence Motion failed due to failing Standing Orders. While the Mayor has been hit, censured, about to be fined, then go on the path through redemption; the five oppositional Councillors need to take a close look at themselves.
Two Councillors from the opposition five can redeem themselves through their actions over the next three years. And they already have begun to do so through big-ticket topics such as the Unitary and Area Plans. Two of the other three are terminally wounded and can (after long discussions with counterparts) not truly recover – to the point they might as well go in 2016. The last Councillor – that being Brewer I have upgraded from Terminal to just wounded which Krum and Stewart got placed in.
What Brewer did through his donation and fess up (although the Herald by the looks of it ballsed it originally) is a +1 in my books. What he said in the first paragraph though just gives weight for the need of the Remuneration Authority tightening up guidelines and punishments for the Interests and Gifts Registers. Basically don’t do it properly then; expect fines, censures, and criminal charges for the most serious breaches.
In light of this saga and from Fletcher’s stinging attacks against Brewer, Cameron (like Len but different reasons) has a long road to rebuild his capital if he either wants a high post at Council or even Mayor. My advice to Brewer would be first of all: Shut up! The constant negative attacks and opposing everything makes you look like – well a knob (yes I said it). The City knows this and apart from arch-conservatives who seem to have the blinkers on (to their detriment) this is what can make Brewer unappealing.
This flows on to the second point. Cameron forget the arch-conservatives of Auckland in chasing votes okay? They will vote for you. Solely focusing on them will automatically put a Centre Left Mayor in place or as a flip side install a more progressive Centre Right Mayor such as Councillor Fletcher. You need to focus on the Centre and Centre Left swing voters. That means visiting South and West Auckland twice a month and touring the areas. Ask George as he does it quite well – and uses public transport to boot. You also need to adapt your policies that are inclusive not exclusive. By inclusive try something like increasing the rates remissions to 3% for the elderly and low-income residents of Auckland. Two birds with one stone in being inclusive with a social policy either on fixed incomes (Super) or not as well off as those in Orakei. Another inclusive is public transport investment – more than what you “support” at the moment. Okay cars are exclusive – they exclude sectors of society in accessing the city. So forget mass investment there for pro car people you might find as your core base. Bite the bullet and invest into mass transit as it is an inclusive policy. Any one can literally take it and should be able to access most parts of the city efficiently and cheaply. As a double spin off congestion is lessened on the roads so those who choose a car can also travel efficiently as well. Choice and actual free choice – inclusive, something arch-conservatives (which also stem into NIMBYs) will always fail to understand as they always try and exclude overs – usually from what they enjoy – true freedom.
Third thing: hire a speech writer. You will know why if you understand the two points above.
These are my thoughts and musings here. Not expecting everyone to agree but they are there for reference 🙂