The Honourable Miss Emma Edwards:
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, it has been a tough budget with a lot of increases. However, I do believe that it was a wise budget; not depending on oil revenues and revenues from various fishing stocks.
After speaking to other Overseas Territories at the Committee of 24 Seminar in New Caledonia, I believe we have weathered the recession well. However, there are reports of a second wave about to hit and concerns that Chinaís economic bubble may burst soon.
This could potentially have a globally devastating affect so I think that it was a wise budget, albeit one that will make life a little tougher for the majority of people. I welcome the end of means testing the child allowance and also the reintroduction of the Medical Services Levy. The change in pocket money for the 6th Form students brings them in line with their UK counterparts.
I also welcome the 1% Civil Service pay rise. This is something which I think needed to be done because it hasnít kept in line with the rate of inflation in the Islands. And, for a long time I think the Civil Service had been back-tracking in their pay, so itís a good move.
However, I do believe that the Falkland Islands Government can still make savings. Iíd think that some of the posts that we currently have within the Falkland Islands Government through the restructuring are not necessary. I also believe that money can be saved by ensuring the localisation of jobs. Huge sums of money are spent on recruitment each year and we need to see a constant effort by contract officers to train local people into their roles.
Argentina still remains a thorn in our side. It is not going to go away any time soon. However, Falkland Islanders are the rightful people of these Islands. Our culture, heritage and family tie us to these Islands. Argentina needs to be educated to this fact and we are the people with our own rights Ė not a British implant or parachute population. Most Falkland Islanders Ė now up to nine generations, have arrived in these Islands via a biological process I.E. they were born here. I think that makes us a population older than most of that in Argentina; certainly in the south of their country.
We do not call into question their right to call themselves Argentines. We are the rightful people of our land. We are Falkland Islanders.
In a couple of weeks I am heading off to the UN to deliver a speech along with Gavin Short to the Committee of 24 on Decolonisation. I believe it is very important at this current time to put forward our Falklandsí message on the international scene at every opportunity. This will mean more trips overseas for Members of Legislative Assembly. But currently Argentina is making its case widely known on the international scene. And we need to be putting our case across more strongly.
However, it is not all doom and gloom. Our Islands still offer a unique and wonderful way of life, which money cannot buy. I look forward to the statement from Rockhopper Limited with regards to their Sea Lion finds. We still have another six wells to drill.
At the end of April Iceland blew up and spread huge clouds of ash across Europe stopping aircraft and causing travel mayhem. This even affected us here in the Islands. Iíd like to send a note of thanks to the staff at the FIC Travel Office and to Una Wallace in the CEOís Office. On the few times I visited them they were very busy sorting out the backlog and keeping people informed; and it was a fraught time for all parties involved.
I am delighted that plots for building homes are once again available to people at an affordable rate for first time home owners. I hope that this will encourage more people to invest in their futures in the Islands.
The feedback I have been getting from a lot of farmers is the importance of the Abattoir for their business. However, not all farmers are in favour of it. One of the things that concern me is the introduction of animal tagging and passports. I will be strongly against any proposal to this sort of thing. And I will also be against any proposal which stops the slaughter and sale of meat from peopleís farms to people in Stanley and elsewhere in the Islands.
Since Iíve been on the Housing Committee, itís been pointed out to me on a number of occasions that currently no points are awarded for the length of time a person has been on the housing list. Iím hoping that this can be changed in the near future. I also want to see a time embargo before people are entitled to apply for Government Housing. I believe people need to have shown a long-term commitment to the Islands before getting allocated a house above long-term residents, who should get propriety. Housing is an issue that this Government recognises is a very important issue. But I will continue to find ways to help people become established in homes, either as tenants or buying their own homes.
I still think it is crazy that people wishing to settle in the Islands have to buy homes outside of Stanley before being allowed to buy homes within Stanley. I can understand that this can help the development of Camp but it is not always practical.
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I support the Motion.