Falklands : Falklands Legislative Assembly 26 February 2010 Part 2
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 04.03.2010 (Article Archived on 18.03.2010)
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, in continuing the theme of trying to start the Motion for Adjournment on happy news rather than sad news or criticism, I would like to bring to the attention of people the actual generosity of the Falkland Islanders and indeed those servicemen and women serving here in the Falklands to the amount of money actually raised for charitable purposes.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT SPEECHES
By J. Brock (FINN)
The Hon Roger Edwards (RE):
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, in continuing the theme of trying to start the Motion for Adjournment on happy news rather than sad news or criticism, I would like to bring to the attention of people the actual generosity of the Falkland Islanders and indeed those servicemen and women serving here in the Falklands to the amount of money actually raised for charitable purposes. I think you only have to get as far as page 3 of Penguin News this morning and you realise that within a week we’ve raised several thousand pounds with a garden party at Government House, farm visits to port Luis and the like, walking the MPA Road and it is just staggering the amount of money and the generosity of the people here in the Falkland Islands. I am not aware currently of what the Haiti Appeal stands at but I think it shows that island people recognise the needs of island people can raise money but that was very specific. But overall I do congratulate the honesty, the generosity of the people of the Falklands in raising such huge sums of money for charitable causes around the world.
Last week we saw Penguin News with very large blue and white flags across the front page with yellow suns and the like and it just brings home to people that however clever you think you might be using your computer and sending messages left right and centre you must always be very, very careful because somebody next door is a darn site cleverer than you and access your computer, they can alter the facts on your computer, they can distribute the information on your computer to whom and wherever they want. And so I would just like to raise a warning for everyone – government and private individuals alike to be jolly careful. What we do here in the Islands presently is under a lot of scrutiny just across the water and I am sure the government across the water are very interested in reading everything that we put out over our messages. I have said it before – I won’t repeat the sware word, Mr Speaker – but e-mails are a bain and they can be read and if you want to get some confidential or private information across it is far better to have dialogue, look someone in the eye and tell him what you feel rather than going by e-mail. It is a very dangerous pursuit and it was shown this last week then it is easy to be hacked into and alter the information on that website.
A very quick mention about another letter in Penguin News this morning from a member of the public who says this Council seems to be operating as a team. And I, too, would like to think that after 100 days – or it’s now past a hundred days – there was a lot of criticism earlier about how it would all fall apart after 100 days. I don’t see it happening. I think we are now a better, more cohesive and more aligned team than we were on November the 5th. And Time will tell, of course but I think we are doing a reasonable job but certainly as a team we are working very well as a cohesive body.
A couple of items that have made headlines – one is the Queen’s Baton which we must surely be very grateful to have received here and to see all the areas to where it’s been – the top of mountains with the Attorney General – I’m not quite sure how the Attorney General got to the top of the mountain and I won’t embarrass him by asking – to Penguin Colonies to our youngsters carrying it along the front road – well I think that’s good, honest publicity for the Falkland Islands. And in fact we are going to be sending teams to the commonwealth games in India and I think that’s good news.
We had a request from BAS to possibly erect a monument possibly a symbol in commemoration of those who have died in Antarctic exploration and so on. We or through Britain lay claim to a large area of the Antarctic and the Falklands recently has been recognised as a gateway to the Antarctic and I think this would be s superb place to have that memorial to those who lost their lives in the Antarctic. I understand that the Cathedral Committee do not want it placed in front of the Cathedral but I would propose and hope that we can consider that this memorial could be placed perhaps on Arch Green or better still perhaps along Victory Green somewhere so that it is in full public view and can be visited by folks along the way.
And if I may, Mr Speaker, just go back to the question on the radio and television – I do urge that we try and resolve the matter of radio broadcasts to the Camp sooner rather than later.
Mr Speaker I beg to support the Motion.
The Hon Mr Bill Luxton (BL):
Mr Speaker, I’ll be quite brief. This session comes at the end of a long and quite intensive week for Assembly business, not to speak of the time spent looking at and listening to the hysterical antics of our neighbours across the water. I can’t help thinking it would be much better for all of us if they hadn’t aggregated the 1995 oil agreement. There has been lots of nonsense in the world’s press as well with sensational stories about South Atlantic Sheikhs and so on. It seems impossible to get the story over that it will be a long time before we see large amounts of oil money, if ever.
The only oil that I am positive came from our area was a small bottle that sat on a previous Governor’s desk at one stage after the last exploration.
Anyway, I wish the companies a trouble free and successful drilling round. We are looking forward to an interesting autumn and an early winter as we wait for any news.
The Honourable Roger Edwards has mentioned Camp Radio and I concur with his views completely. It’s good to know that at least this winter Camp people will have TV if all goes well. It’s been an appalling story of bungling and delay. It’s a year late so I hope this is the final stage.
But I’m not sure about FIBS – sorry – FIRS. Many still don’t have the local radio and it’s galling for those Campers to know that other people all over the world are listening to FIRS online, especially because it is said to be courtesy of Cable & Wireless. What a shame they couldn’t look after their main customers in the same, generous manner. But even if you could get it on your internet connection you couldn’t afford it with the miserable package allowances given. It’s the same with podcasts from the BBC and such like. One small programme would use up a quarter of your measly monthly Bronze Allowance. I do urge everyone to respond to the Doyle Report if they haven’t already done so. Cable & Wireless has to be dragged into the 21st century even if it is kicking and screaming. The reliability of the Internet and the Y-Max system over the last few days certainly leaves a lot to be desired.
I also want to appeal to all the farmers in my constituency. We face a crossroads over the abattoir. FIMCO in conjunction with some go-ahead farmers, have made projections about the supply of lambs that others and some are around this table have doubts about. It’s really essential for every single farmer to do his upmost to supply the abattoir. Look and see what some farmers are doing. If they can, so can you. If the abattoir fails or is closed and the rural development concept will be like a 3-legged stool with one leg sawn off.
Lots of young and not so young farmers have put huge effort and resources into changing their systems. If FIMCO closes they will be left high and dry and the Camp will be in danger of becoming a depressing backwater with a future lacking in hope.
I would like to congratulate the Hon Sharon Halford on establishing her weekly newsletter to Campers. I think it was a great idea and I know it’s much appreciated. I am sure that she would add Stanley residents to her list if asked. But I do feel that Gilbert House should have a news and exchange of views blog as well. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do. I know the Honourable Roger Edwards is not too keen on the internet and I do hope the Argentines don’t hack into face-book over the next few days. I really hate the idea that people in the community begin to feel out of touch with their elected representatives. On that point, I will be at the West Sports next week not, I’m afraid, attending hastily arranged meetings in Stanley. But I am always happy to be buttonholed by anyone who has a concern they’d like to discuss. And let’s hope we get a brief glimpse of summer again during the next week.
My final point is the budget. This new assembly inherited a difficult deficit situation and is under considerable pressure from the Treasury to get nearer to a balanced budget. We could do this with some savage cuts or with increases in taxation. My view is that there is a small percentage charged but the black gold may save the situation.
If it is there its rubbish to say we’ll have to wait till production starts. If we should have proven reserves there’s no doubt we could raise funds by selling our future production forward. I therefore believe that we should not be too afraid of the deficit budget this year but in the certain knowledge that the Ocean Guardian sails off again and found nothing then next year we will be faced with some pretty stark choices.
Mr Speaker I support the Motion.
The Hon Glenn Ross (GR):
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members there are a few matters on which I would like to comment, firstly on oil exploration. This is, of course, an exciting time for our country. There is a chance of a significant oil discovery and secured future wealth – not to put a dampener on things. We have, of course, been on the crest of this wave once before and there was nothing at the end of it. A positive difference for me from the 1998 oil exploration phase is the involvement of local companies in the onshore development. And I think they have worked wonders down at the Canache and in record time. I wish all our oil companies good luck, good fortune and a safe drilling programme.
Mr Speaker, moving to my portfolio responsibilities I am keenly aware that I have not made it to the West for any reasonable length of time and I hope to travel to Fox Bay East very soon. I have, though, taken in a ferry crossing and I am happy with the operation. Our winds are a blessing in one area and a complete curse in many others. We have some really good people at Workboat Services and in time, any wrinkles that remain will be ironed out. The weather, though, will continue to be a significant issue.
Mr Speaker I am really pleased to have the agriculture at such a challenging time for the industry. We are very much at a crossroads. I thank all those farmers on East Falkland who have welcomed me on their farms and have taken time taken out to try and educate the new boy.
In my travels I have seen at least three different ways and methods of growing green grass but common to each and at the root of each one is hard work. We have some very progressive farmers here in the Falklands and these are the ones that I am most keen to support. I am a supporter of FIMCO. This has not always been the case. My previous opinion was based on hearsay and not from having been for a look. I can’t over-state the importance of FIMCO’s role in the future of agriculture. We need a long-term commitment to our meat industry. I would not return to the support of direct subsidies for wool. FIMCO at the moment is an indirect subsidy requiring farmer performance.
That said, my support is not at any price. And while we have not all seen a break-down of the operating costs the total cost is known and is, at this time, not supportable by me. I know the Falkland Islands Development Corporation and the Public Works Department are working through the items and identifying savings. If the next steps for FIMCO are agreed, it will then need Falkland Landholdings, the Department of Agriculture and the progressive farmers to work together as never before.
The FIMCO livestock suppliers’ group are showing positive signs that they could be the organisation to co-ordinate and drive through that change.
Mr Speaker, I should not have a favourite department but I do. I very much enjoy the atmosphere and the vision or the people at the Department of Agriculture. I expect one or two radios in the Camp have been cast across the room at this news and it’s just as well they can’t hear it. I am not a farmer and never likely to be but I am keen and interested in the challenges ahead.
I am especially interested in the recently started fishmeal fertiliser trial. I am grateful to Fortuna Ltd for the supply of fishmeal sourced from a Southern Blue Whiting trawler currently in our zone and to the Falkland Islands Development Corporation for the use of land at Stanley Dairy. Initial results from this locally produced fertiliser are very promising. There are vast proportions of fish discards from which a portion could be transhipped ashore and processed cheaply using excess wind power. Our land is deficient in Nitrogen and Phosphorus. The two principle nutrients in fishmeal are Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Essentially the two elements our land needs most are dumped at sea.
The power and electrical section and the Department of Agriculture have talented young Islanders who are away already or are about to leave. There are, of course, others being trained but perhaps we as a Government are now creating the right atmosphere of confidence in our own people.
Mr Speaker, Ex-Co yesterday approved the sale of housing plots at Mink Park at a subsidised rate. This is a start of a housing strategy that should give hope to many first time buyers.
We live in exciting times – promising times for oil, for agriculture and our young professionals. These are pivotal times to our future. In the coming weeks and months as a people we will be tested, we will be provoked and we will need to draw heavily on our reserves of calm and patients.
Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.
The Hon Mrs Sharon Halford (SH):
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, in rising to support the Motion I would first like to thank the Honourable Bill Luxton for his comment about the weekly round-up. For his information I already have quite a number of Stanley people on the list.
Since I was last in this House I visited different areas in the Hospital and FIGAS. And I have been fortunate enough to visit the Abattoir when it was in operation. (Perhaps not everybody’s cup of tea) In all places people were doing their best at their respective jobs. But I really do have to take my hat off to the staff at FIMCO. Whilst they all worked hard, as does anyone on a production line the people in the packing area really do have to work very fast. Overall it was a very impressive operation and working like a well oiled machine.
When I did a FIRS interview recently I suddenly wondered why I was bothering. After all how many people will actually be able to hear it – definitely in the rural community. Sometimes I think our communications are progressing backwards rather than forwards.
For some time now I have been unable to receive the radio and I suspect others will have been in the same situation. But then yesterday radio reception was suddenly back online – amazing! On the other hand, I had no broadband or telephone. Imagine my surprise to actually have the radio and then to receive a message over it telling me how to get the telephone back online. Wonders will never cease. And I know I am belabouring a point that’s been mentioned already. But I am somewhat concerned about just how we are going to receive the radio in the future – or are we. We’ve been told that we will be able to receive it when we get the TV. But how will that work for those of us who do not opt for the TV and also those who are out and about. This needs to be made crystal clear to folk to enable them to be fully aware of what is actually proposed with the new TV system.
Talking of the Media, we seem to be having a deluge of journalists visiting the Islands. At present they appear to be far more excited about the rhetoric from our neighbours than we are. Perhaps it is hard for the press to accept that for us this is normal practice. It happens all the time in varying degrees year after year. But at least now the rest of the world is being made aware of what we have to continually endure and not – I hasten to add – at the hands of the British. It’s a bit like crying wolf all the time. When you keep moaning about the same thing all the people tend to stop listening.
Of course the media are also here because of the oil. And I wish all the oil companies well here in the exploration phase and hope they have calm waters whilst drilling.
When I was elected to Council way back in the ‘90s I remember saying that although everyone wanted a road they would not necessarily like the progress that came along the roads. I didn’t realise then just how true those words would prove to be. Now that the roads are in place people are being asked to use them for various reasons. And because this has changed to how things were done previously it is not always appreciated. However, dare I say, it is the price of progress.
The road gangs are doing a sterling job in trying to keep the road surfaces up to scratch on the main spine roads and also on others when time permits and the weather allows. I’m going to repeat what a predecessor of mine – Eric Goss who always advocated when he was on council – and that was for Tillite to be used wherever possible when capping the roads. Recently another material which Mr Speaker would not allow me to describe in this House, was used on top of the Tillite surface at the Fitzroy Ridge. And it is, in my opinion, awful. You definitely need to drive carefully when crossing it. But perhaps my expectations have been too high and I have been spoiled by the materials used for some time now.
And this brings me on to how people perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. Frankly, I think we have as a society been very lucky for a long time and have enjoyed many benefits in one form or another. It is often said that the more you get the more you want and that does seem to be true. But be warned, it does not lead to a very pretty society. We used to be very proud of who we were and were very much a “can do” people. But with progress we seemed to have acquired a growing element of “I want.” Thankfully there are still many “Can do” folks out there and I hope we don’t loose that part of our identity. It is good and healthy as opposed to the other option.
For the farming community it’s been a bit of a tough slog this season as the weather has not been exactly user friendly for farming. Those of you who have managed to get livestock to FIMCO should be congratulated for their efforts as it could not always have been easy to get the animals up to optimum weights at the right time.
The FIGAS review is still ongoing and I hope this has been useful to all those people within the organisation that we have been talking to. There is a good team of people down at FIGAS and they all work well within their given areas. I hope many of you out there have managed to take a few minutes out of a busy work schedule to either write or fill in the form to let us know your comments. Most importantly I hope this exercise will lead to an even better service for all concerned.
We currently have a representative from Keene, our public relations people in the UK down here for a visit. He has been striving to make us more media-wise. But at one point he showed us some of the most used words in relation to the Falklands on GOOGLE during December. And can you believe it? Deforestation popped up. I found this hard to believe until I realised GOOGLE must have been picking up on the crazy amount of repetitive paperwork that we MLAs have been receiving. The trees are still being chopped down as I speak.
As it is time once again to thank the Cancer Support Group for all their hard work in bringing the mammography team down here. But their efforts were not just for this visit. They continue their good work on a daily basis giving help and assistance to people in need of their support. This support is offered on a 24-hour basis and they should, indeed, be thanked for what they do.
Commodore Thicknesse, may I through you thank the RIC for the visit I received yesterday? They were such a nice, polite group of young men who did, indeed, do you proud. However, more importantly was the reason behind their visit and I do believe that this will have been much appreciated by all who have encountered them this week.
We have now started down the budget trail looking at what needs to be done. But of course it is a different ball game when you look at just how you’re going to do it. And quite frankly I think it would be easier to drive to Volunteer Point even in this weather with small tyres on my land rover than to come up with the answers that are required.
And on that note, Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.
The Hon Mrs Jan Cheek (JC):
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, there has been a fair amount of talk about radio and I deeply sympathise with the people in Camp who can’t receive it. As a radio addict with a cheap transistor in every room in the house, I rely on it for information, for news, for things that provoke thought. It’s quite difficult for us as Members sometimes to get information out other than Sharon does on the internet. We have some good opportunities with radio but of course we understand it’s not going as far as it should.
The reason for asking questions to which the answers may seem very obvious to everyone around this table is to get that out on the radio and perhaps picked up by Penguin News although I wouldn’t bank on it so that people have access to this kind of information. And we really do have to work harder in every area in getting information out to people.
I’m going to do something quite out of character today. I’m going to thank Argentina. I thank them for the opportunity they’ve given us to get our message out around the world, the opportunity that we’ve had to tell Journalists from places as far apart as Canada, Russia, the Aljazera people, China as well. I do not complain about journalists being here. Some of them will sensationalise the story but they are giving us an opportunity to get out a story which I believe has not been understood by the rest of the world and that is the constant niggling annoyance, irritation to us by Argentina’s attempt to curb trade to prevent our people from attending conferences and speaking of issues that are not political – issues that are of world importance such as sustainability of fish stocks. It’s been good to be able to tell people in level terms that we have tried to work with our neighbours – with Argentina on oil – they renounced the agreement – we have tried to work with them for years on fisheries with joint cruises with quite a lot of our scientific budget devoted to sharing information with them in order that we can take world responsibility for the resources in the South Atlantic – they’ve withdrawn from that and refuse to co-operate in it.
So not only have I welcomed that opportunity, I congratulate my colleague the Honourable Emma Edwards who, as leading spokesperson on oil matters has had a baptism of fire in terms of dealing with the media over the last 10 days. And I think the message that she’s been putting out is one that hopefully a lot of people will listen to.
We’ve also had the opportunity to reiterate our basic rights of self determination, our right to the resources that lay in Falklands waters, our right to speak for ourselves as an established people. We did not replace an indigenous population unlike the other South American Nations.
Finally, I want to make my thanks, more heartfelt than usual, to commander British Forces and all the men and women who work for him. I’ve been able to tell people in Russia and in many other countries that the Islands are properly defended. It gives everyone confidence ti be able to say that. I would also like to say, nice to see you wearing your tie.
I support the Motion.
The Hon Miss Emma Edwards (EE):
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, sadly I have been invaded not by our neighbours but something equally as cruel – Earwigs! Last night I was sitting on the loo and my feet were under attack. In a pincer movement six Earwigs came towards me. I leapt to the side to remove the toilet paper and discovered it was the last bit upon which the six of them rushed out in the corridor only to be met by another 20. I went to the kitchen to get my dishcloth and discovered another one under there. It is an invasion and for the people living at the east end of Stanley it is a real problem – a real problem for people with polly tunnels and a real problem for people in their houses.
Although this is not something we are classing as an environmental problem, it’s harmful to my health. I woke up the other morning with them crawling across me. I am not sleeping very well simply because you know those little devils are getting in and out of just about every crevice in your house.
I’ve been receiving lots and lots of complaints from people around and about Stanley about the number of earwigs which they are getting inside their houses. I have received e-mails and stopped by people in the street. It is an epidemic and it is something which we are going to have to try and find a solution to. I know the boys and the girls in the Ag Department have spoken to them about it. They do have things in place and they do have suggestions. But as yet we don’t actually have anything to stop this particular invasion.
I’d also like to congratulate my colleague the Honourable Glen Ross, but not in his capacity as a member of Legislative Assembly but in his Power Station role. It’s great to see the three additional windmills come online the other day. Long may the wind blow and we can generate additional electricity. It would even be better if we could carry on and put this technology to good use elsewhere within the Islands.
The drilling programme is underway. I’d like to thank the girls and boys Phyl Rendell and the Department of Mineral Resources. They have been working incredibly hard to get the drilling programme started. And I would also like to congratulate the guys who are in the various petroleum industries working here in the Falklands on the logistics of actually getting all of their equipment here into the Islands. And I would like to wish them all the best of luck and I would hope we do strike the black gold sometime in the future.
Sadly I do not have the same confidence as my colleague, Mr Ross, when it comes to the abattoir. I have serious doubts about this particular project. I do not believe the figures. I do believe that the only way that the abattoir could work is by completely changing the way of life for people in Camp – to go from our ranching style of farming to an intensive style of farming. That is the only solution to make it work. Whether we will have enough people willing to put the number of hours into that type of farming I don’t know. At the moment I cannot support additional monies going into the abattoir. But I would like to hear from people and get other people’s views so please call me. Maybe I am being misguided, maybe I am being blinkered but from what I am seeing I don’t like it.
I’m also going to mention the Beak and the Nest. Once again the internet can be a very useful and good tool and occasionally it can even have a nice little giggle. I was looking on the Nest the other day at the Lookie/Likie site. Yes it was quite funny. My Honourable Member, Mr Gavin Short, is apparently Brad Pitt and amazingly, yes, there was some similarities. (I will let you recover) However, at the same time there’s also other people who I feel are being picked on not necessarily in a nice way. And I would ask people that when they are doing things like this not to make it personal.
Finally, to end on a good note and perhaps to go back to what I started talking about to begin with -loos – we now have signs at the Public Jetty and at the Jetty Centre Tourist Centre to show our tourists where the loos are. I’d like to thank the guys and girls in the Pod Gift Shop who made a fantastic sign – very, very professional – so hopefully now everybody has a clear way to relieve themselves.
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