Falklands : LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT SPEECH BY GAVIN SHORT (20/12/2012)
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 06.01.2013 (Article Archived on 03.02.2013)
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, in rising to support the Motion for Adjournment I would like to make a few comments on the subject, too.
LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT SPEECH BY GAVIN SHORT (20/12/2012)
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, in rising to support the Motion for Adjournment I would like to make a few comments on the subject, too. I know that some of my end of session speeches could rival some of those of Castro or Chavez but I am sure you will be relieved to hear that this particular speech, if the Mayan colander is correct will definitely end by the 21st. Although if we are all to be bulldozed or vaporised to make way for some inter-galactic ring-road bypass then you would want to do something more enjoyable with your remaining hours than listening to me droning on. I am very much aware that the clock is ticking so I will launch myself into the traditional canter around the paddock of Falklands’ life.
I have great sympathy for the ladies and gentlemen of the Press who have to sit through some pretty ferociously boring committee meetings at some times. And one that can be very dry, hot and I guess from the process point of view full of statistics and boring things is the Police Committee. However, this last meeting where we were completely devoid of press there was some really gripping stuff on the agenda and it proved to be one of the most interesting Police Committee sessions that I have ever had the pleasure of attending.
O will touch on just one item from that agenda and that was a discussion paper submitted by the Attorney General covering nuisance. This all stemmed from representations from the public about noise nuisance from house parties at strange hours of the morning. True to his word, our Attorney General, to whom I do owe a great debt for all his efforts has come up with something that looks like common sense and extremely doable. His paper asks many questions such as do we wish to just stick with noise from parties or just widen its scope to include other forms of nuisance such as light or odours. Who should enforce it and how? Would it be Police or Environmental Officers? What should be the steps taking place from reporting an incident to a warning to a summons to possible confiscation of the music system in case of noise nuisance. And should there be fixed penalties of a certain amount are incurred over a certain amount of time may trigger more formal proceedings, etc.
I am very happy to say that the Police Committee let the whole discussion go forward unaltered to the next stage which I guess will probably be EXCO and then probably the Environmental Committee. So there will be plenty of opportunity for public input into the final shape of the legislation. That is unless it gets killed off at any stage on its journey from discussion paper to legislation. This is one thing that I hope makes it to the statute books. I admit that I have a fairly jaundiced view of proposed legislation but having chatted this over with my learned friend I am convinced that what is being proposed is sensible, practical, workable and doable. And I very much look forward to following its progress over the coming months.
It will, I expect, be the next bunch of MLAs which will have to decide whether this passes into law or not. And I hope they do make the correct decision.
Yesterday saw another momentous moment when our Chief Executive and the Commander British Forces signed the MOU for the Wind Farm at Mount Pleasant. The gestation period for this project is only just about equalled by the Black Alpine Salamander which is, if anybody is interested is anywhere from 24 to 36 months. It has been a long and at times tortuous road but I am glad to say that we have finally nailed it. This project has great benefits both for us, the Falkland Islands, the British Military and, of course the planet in general as it in its own little way helps cut carbon emissions. From my side I must publically thank Glen Ross and Bob Gilbert at the Power Station, Manfred at Mission Control in the PWD, and the merry inhabitants of the Legal Department and anyone else who has been touched by this project at any stage.
I know this project has probably caused some premature ageing for some of those who were closely involved with it and it is fair to say that this went right down to the 11th hour before the final agreement was reached. It does probe that with perseverance and huge amounts of good will and, I suspect, humour, we can work together with the MOD. And I hope, if we both show the same fortitude, we can press the localisation of services up at MPA.
Whilst on the subject of MPA, I managed to get a sneaky look at the re-vamped arrivals hall. And it ain’t half a lot more cheerful and welcoming than it used to be. I think those who come through it will be pleasantly surprised. Again it shows that co-operation is possible and improvements can be made. I am, though, somewhat worried by the removal of the Loos from the arrivals hall section and feel this may have been a little short-sighted and it may have been prudent whilst scaling and down size to have left something there.
The rumour mill is a fine old thing and shows no signs of slowing down. Just this week I was approached by someone who said he heard there were excessive depths of peat on the Sapper Hill Housing Development and intimating that this was likely to kill off low price plots as the foundations were probably going to cost more than the Trump Towers. I am happy to say I have been assured that peat depths encountered have not been excessive. What is making a nuisance of itself in some places is clay and that is being encountered to some depths. I am further assured that drainage works planned but not yet carried out will take care of that for your average punter by lowering the water table. And where there are areas of peat that are deemed to be of sufficient depth to cause a headache for a first time builder, FIG will put its own houses on those plots, thus taking the hit. And I shall be mooching up there for a look in the not too distant future.
I know rumours are still flying about whether FIG will be ready for oil or not. Whilst I will be the first to admit that we may not have everything quite right, that we can and probably will make some mistakes, I very much think that some of the rumours and statements that are being put out there may be by people with vested interests rather than taking a ‘what’s best for me’ outlook, we actually have to look ahead and think what is best for our country and our people and indeed take a view that looks maybe even 50 years down the road. And we must at the same time, though respect and follow where we can, the wishes of the population. I am very much aware that I am wandering into other folks’ back yard here so I will let them give explanations as to the whys and wherefores of the decision making process.
Tourism this year has come under attack from the Argentines who have used unions and pressure groups to try and drive vessels away from our country. It is true to say that they have had some successes. However, it is now starting to look as if it is turning into an almighty own goal. Working for a security company as a humble foot soldier, I know just what international regulations cover – the security of both shipping and aircraft; and just how dimly it is looked upon if these regulations are allowed to be breached.
I sometimes stare in awe at the way the neighbours behave and the way the state seems to give their blessings to such short-sighted tactics such as those used against the cruise ship industry and indeed other sectors. I suspect we will weather this latest attempt to ruin our economy. I certainly make no attempt to hide the fact that it certainly might be hurting some folk here but I do think that there will probably – for us at least – get back to some semblance of normality.
Given the antics of our neighbours, all I can say is that I am so glad that I am not Argentine. It makes me ever more determined that they will never get their hands on one inch of our country.
It is the time of year that I would like to, via the Commander British Forces, pass on my very best wishes for a great Christmas and New Year for all those both Military and Civilian that are here in the Falklands helping to ensure that we can continue to live in peace and freedom. What they do is very much appreciated by us and I hope all those people up there and those at sea have an enjoyable Christmas and new year.
This may be an opportune time to gently remind detractors and indeed impeders who may be listening to this that the Argentine Defence Minister is on record as saying that if it were not for the presence of British Forces here, our country would be under Argentine rule. I suspect Christmases would not be so enjoyable or our future so exciting if he got his wish. So we really do owe a huge debt of gratitude for all those who, just by their very presence and professionalism will stop our Islands from being subjugated by a foreign power.
I would also like to thank all those within FIG for their efforts during this year. Once again, we have asked a huge amount from you all and you delivered, at times punching way above your weight. The same message also applies to those in the Falkland Islands Development Corporation and indeed all those in the private sector. Folk have been going flat out. There may be a slight slackening of pressures over this next year for some, but very soon the pressure will be back on again. I know we can deliver. The rivets may pop a bit at times but we have never been afraid of hard work and will be up to whatever gets chucked at us.
I would like to think that in 2013 we will show our gratitude to our workforce not just with words but by awarding an increase in wages that will either fully restore earnings to where they should be or go a very long way down that road doing so. It is a point that I would like to ask my Honourable Colleagues to give serious consideration to over the coming months of the budget cycle.
Likewise I would just like to take this opportunity of wishing everyone here in the Falklands a great Christmas and a well groovy New Year and hope that you will have an enjoyable but safe Christmas and New year Holidays so that those who work in the emergency services can also have a quiet Christmas.