Falklands : LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 MAY 2010 The Hon Mr Gavin Short:
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 08.06.2010 (Article Archived on 22.06.2010)
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, in rising to support the Motion for Adjournment, (I have) just a couple of brief ramblings.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 MAY 2010 MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT SPEECHES
Compiled by J. Brock (FINN)
The Hon Mr Gavin Short:
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, in rising to support the Motion for Adjournment, (I have) just a couple of brief ramblings.
Over the last few months a quote from a very famous Prime Minister has kept coming into my mind and that’s Mr Churchill, who once said “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” And at times that’s how I felt when thinking about my country and its people.
On one hand, we had a deficit budget that had to be tamed a bit and on the other, we had a neighbour who is doing everything is its power to disrupt our economy and force us by its brutish tactics to stop looking for oil in our waters and start the process that will lead to us losing our country.
Those who have spoken before me on the subject of the budget and the economy much more eloquently than ever I can hope to have probably covered all the points. However, I would like to say that the decisions that were made were made with a heavy heart. For what government wants to put a heavier tax burden on its people than they already bear. But in order to guarantee a healthy future, we knew we had to act. I praise God that what we have done is seen as being fair as any tax can be.
I do understand that it must be a bitter pill to swallow – booze, fags and other groovy fun things get bunged up in price. The reintroduction of MSL and the lower end of the tax threshold and just over the horizon there is an oil rig which may have already found something that might make us all enjoy a lifestyle that we can only dream of – if you believe the papers.
I think probably there is something out there and if there is then we must be extremely prudent in how we use the revenues that we will gain. We must, while making sure that we look after our country and the people invest wisely as any oil that there might be isn’t going to last forever. And we must make sure that we leave future generations in a sustainable economic position. We must be as responsible as our parents and grandparents were when they put up with low wages and hardship in order that we might have a better future.
It is the responsibility of each generation to pass on these Islands to the next in better condition than they found it.
However, the black gold is not flowing. Even if there is a huge amount out there it will be (a lot of) time before exploitation can start. It could well take years.
We cannot be irresponsible and start attacking our reserves on the strength that maybe (there might be). We must protect those funds and we must make sure they are there just in case one day we have real need of them. And it could happen.
I still believe we still have a vibrant, strong, happening economy. We are by no means doomed – I thank the Honourable Ross for that expression. You only have to see we are in fact extremely lucky but for a while the good times are over. We have had a wake-up call and from here on in the word for me is “prudent.” We must be prudent in our expenditure and planning and we must do this in order to protect our economy, people and our country.
Our economy will continue to expand and it is my honest belief that even if you forget about the prospect of oil for a time there are some very exciting times ahead of us. I think I have alluded to this before but I can see fisheries adding a lot more to our economy.
We as a Government must act as a facilitator to help this happen but it will be the industry that will drive the changes. I have a feeling that the time is almost upon us when this will start to happen. I hope that we will see a strong dialogue between the fishing companies and the Government into how we can best help the industry to bring more of the revenue of that catch on shore here in the Islands.
We must also then ensure that any moves to bring more of that catch over FIPASS does not exclude, for example, local stevedores. And by the same token there must be some mechanism in place to make sure that the industry is not held to random by people charging over inflated prices for services to the industry.
In short I am saying that there must be fairness on both sides. It is my hope that locals can and will benefit from any changes that occur but it must be done in the spirit of co-operation and fairness.
I wish now to touch on the Abattoir. I, too, went to the suppliers’ group meeting; and I left that meeting with no doubts about the enthusiasm and the ability of that group. I am impressed and have no doubts at all or their willingness and enthusiasm about supplying animals to that abattoir. I don’t really have a problem in that direction.
I am still sceptical of the ability of the Abattoir to break even. However, I am on my own on this and rather than sit in the corner sulking and muttering as I sometimes do anyway, will somewhat sceptically take an active part in any debates and decisions. I do hope that we will see 100% local staff out there at the Abattoir as soon as possible. And an active training programme should be undertaken to make it happen.
As you will be aware we have taken the first rather tentative steps into the wonderful world of the immigration review. And already some very interesting information has started to flow with ex-councillors being kind enough to explain to us how they reached the point that they did and saving us from re-inventing the wheel. It is going to be a bit of an interesting task and one that is going to be made all the more fun by having to find something that is fair and humane but at the same time protecting our Islands and giving us the right to say who can and cannot become a member of “club Falklands.” By its nature this probably isn’t very exciting work but it is necessary and we shall keep you in touch as the review goes on.
There are times when being a portfolio holder for a department has its moments, especially when there is a failing in the system. I am sorry to report to this House that such a failing occurred a few weeks ago with a couple of immigration matters. That they happened at all is regrettable. Indeed, it wasn’t good enough. However, I am satisfied that these were genuine mistakes and will not happen again. We all make mistakes and whilst I am not in any way holding this up as an excuse, what I am saying is what is more important for me is that we learn from those mistakes and do not repeat them. It is my belief that these mistakes will not happen again. As the portfolio holder responsible for immigration, the buck stops with me and today in this House I would like to offer a full and unreserved apology to those who were affected.
I was rather taken back at the Public Meeting the other day by the suggestion that we introduce a one-way system in Stanley to help with the parking and traffic flow. I wasn’t taken back because it was a daft idea – far from it – it may actually solve a lot of our problems but what did rock me back in my seat was that just about everyone at the meeting thought the idea to be good. I know it was suggested some years ago as deemed to be not what we wanted. Maybe it’s time has come. To let you into a little secret, as part of some work that has already been done to try and tame the congestion problems around the Infant/Junior School – and here I must pay special tribute to PC Rob, who with help from a lot of other people has been quietly thinking about a solution for this problem.
Part 2 of the proposed plan was, indeed, to turn John Street from the co-op down into a one-way street. Although I said nothing at the time a cold sweat had already come over me at the thought of suggesting to the public that we were going to introduce a one-way street. However, in light of what was said at the Public Meeting, I am now going to fly a kite and ask people to let me know what they think in principle – is it a good idea or a bad one? I really have got no further with the suggestion from the Public meeting but I will be wandering over to see the DPW in the next few days to see if he can remember just where we got to last time.
As I have said, I am just basically flying a kite at the moment; and would be very grateful for any feedback from the public, for or against.
I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Alison Ingles for the work she has done for us in the time that she was seconded to the Legislature Department. Alison was lent to us on a part time basis to help with the PR work when the oil round kicked off; and we were inundated with press inquiries. Alison, as her way, attacked the project with what’s to me as an old plodder, a startling amount of enthusiasm and efficiency. She spent some very long hours at the office including weekends. So I would like to pass on my thanks to her but also I would like to thank her husband and her family for their patients and understanding, as there must have been times when they hardly saw her.
I think it is also appropriate at this time to thank all of the families out there who, without complaint back up their spouses and partners. You, too play a vital role in the functioning of the Government in these Islands.
Whilst I am on the subject of the Government, I think it is time that we give serious thought to the affect that the 3% cut year on year is having. Some of the smallest departments have nowhere left to go and it’s affecting how they operate. One such department that is causing me some grave concerns is the Power and Electrical Department. As I tried to explain at the Public Meeting – probably without too much success – their workload is expanding with the addition of the wind farm. Even as Stanley expands the amount of light bulbs multiplies. This may seem mundane but as the workforce steadily shrinks it is having a very real affect. Work is not being done in a timely manner. I do not lay the fault of this at the feet of the guys. They have only two pairs of hands and a given number of hours in any day. Whilst you can make everyone work a bit harder and more efficiently, prolonged periods of working short-handed, as I know only too well, leads people to becoming fatigued physically and mentally and will start to lead to a high turnover in staff. This is something that we must address as a matter of urgency.
In another couple of weeks the Honourable Emma and I will head north to present the Falklands’ case at the UN Committee of 24. I have been asked if I feel worried or over-awed. The answer is NO. I am approaching this probably in the same way as the Irish football team approaches their international games. No one expects them to win so they gear themselves up and go out and give it all they’ve got; and if they get a result, well and good. I will not be pussy-footing around, though and fully intend calling a spade a spade. This is my home, it’s my country and I am darned if any foreign power is going to get their hands on it.
In an effort, though, to sort out just when the Short Family arrived, as the UN Committee of 24 seems to like that sort of thing, I did some asking about and I am very much indebted to Tansy up at the Archives but also the Honourable Jan Cheek for their help. I always knew that John and Sarah Short, who were the original Shorts to settle here, had spent some time in the West Indies when they were still in the Army – the King’s Regiment evidently. What I never realised was that one of his sons – George – was born in Jamaica in 1837. And Tansy’s research seems to point to George being the founder of my particular leg of the Short family. If so, though through an accident of birth I can perhaps claim to have Jamaican ancestry.
In the subject of Argentina, we have all seen what lengths they are going to, to try and disrupt our normal lives; and the passing of decrees that contravene international treaties. It just goes to show that the present Argentine Government does not care one bit about treaties and agreements.
To you out there – the public – I would say that I expect this pressure will continue and may even be ratcheted up in the coming months. To us old hands this is nothing new or novel as we have been through this before. The younger people in our community must be wondering why us old fogies are always so anti-Argentine, must now be receiving a very short, sharp lesson in just what these people are like.
I would, though like to thank publicly Mrs K for producing yet another generation or two of hard-liners in the Falklands. Up until she started almost terrorising these Islands the young people here were somewhat numb plisse why us oldies were so anti. She did in months what us oldies could never have achieved in years.
If you remember at the beginnings of my rambling I referred to some words spoken by Mr Churchill and I would like to end my address by returning to this great man for another couple of words, which I aim very much at our aggressive, bullying neighbours: “You can bring what pressure you will to bear on us to try and make our lived difficult and you could almost blockade our Islands if it makes you feel good but – to quote Mr Churchill – we will never surrender.
Sir, I thank you.
KB: Honourable members, the Motion for Adjournment is carried and the Assembly is adjourned accordingly.
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