Falklands : LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY FRIDAY, 30 JULY 2010 Motion for Adjournment Speeches
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Nathan Prince) 09.08.2010 (Article Archived on 23.08.2010)
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I wish to begin with tall poppies and Mexican Crabs. Tall poppies are something you will be familiar with.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY FRIDAY, 30 JULY 2010
(Motion for Adjournment Speeches)
Transcript and Commentary by J. Brock (FINN)
The Hon Mrs Jan Cheek (JC):
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I wish to begin with tall poppies and Mexican Crabs. Tall poppies are something you will be familiar with. I think it’s an Australian expression. When people seem to be getting above themselves or perhaps a little too successful they are chopped off at the base of the stem and brought back on the level with the others. Mexican Crab is lest used but it involves a bucket of crabs on the way to the market. The ambitious fellow wishes to climb up and escape but is pulled back by his less ambitious bucket mates..
We don’t do enough to celebrate the success that some people in the Islands and I want to use this opportunity to give very warm congratulations to our students who have come back again with a set of very good results. This includes certainly one 1st Class Honours Degree, a number of 2.1s – there are HNDs and other very good qualifications being gained by our students.
I can’t go into great detail because we don’t have a full list yet and if I did without that, I might be missing someone out. But I think that we should celebrate the success of these students and hope that at some point in the future, with appropriate experience that they will be contributing in our community.
Some people will have read the piece I’ve been doing in Penguin News as an MLA. And I was congratulated by one reader on the fact that it was so succinct. There’s a very good reason for that – I am only allowed 300 to 350 words, so it has to be. But clearly my most recent one was not only too succinct, it was clearly too subtle because the main point of it appears to have been missed, or would appear to be so from my reading of the editorial this morning. I am certainly not trying to avoid public debate or giving as much information as we can to the public. What I was trying to say is that diplomacy is not usually conducted in public. Megaphone diplomacy is something perhaps a little more Latin American than we are. We’re not Latin American at all.
MLAs are happy to share all their information and thoughts with individuals but not to have them broadcast the length and breadth of South America. If we do have a strategy for dealing with a particular thing, we certainly don’t want to be broadcasting it and I hope this clarifies that point.
Clearly what I am referring to is the additional rhetoric we have been getting from across the water – the attempt to hinder trade, which we’ve been open about for many months, long before their more recent passing of their legislation, which would have the clear, unequivocal support of the British Government in saying that it goes against international law. But I’m just making a plea. We’ve been there before; nothing to get hugely excited about; there may be small hardships – we’ve been there before as well.
I am only speaking on those issues today but I want to welcome Anton and thank him for standing in for our clerk, Claudette Prior, and to wish Claudette a very speedy recovery and hope to see her back very soon.
I Support the Motion.
The Hon Mr Roger Edwards (RE):
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, in rising to support the Motion for Adjournment I, too, cannot pass this moment by without mentioning Argentina and their shenanigans against trade in the Falkland Islands. It appears that it’s spreading and even affects trading with the UK itself. But what I can say is that the Falklands’ War finished over 28 years ago and so there’s a whole new generation of Islanders brought up without knowing what affects that war had. But the latest shenanigans of the Argentine people have only gone to alienate that new generation against them.
I see on the front of Penguin news today the whole page is taken up by questions on the employment law. Some of the people listening today will remember that that was one of our top eight priorities which this Assembly agreed immediately after our election. And, of course, minimum wage is one of those items within that employment law. And I am pleased to announce that it’s been agreed that we hope to complete work on that employment law by October with a possible paper coming to the November Executive Council. So those worried and concerned about the law, please be aware that we are working on your behalf.
And finally, to keep this very brief, with our on-going review of the review of Government – and I hear it mentioned a couple of times this morning – we have now agreed formally that the Public Works Department will be known as the Public Works Department and not the Public Services Department.
Thank you very much Mr Speaker. I support the Motion.
The Hon Miss EMMA Edwards (EE):
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, in rising to support the Motion for Adjournment – I was delighted upon hearing of St Helena getting an airstrip after all these years of trying. I really do believe that this shows a commitment from the new British Government towards its overseas territories. And I think it is something that Falkland Islanders can also take to heart at this particular time with our problems across the water. I don’t think the British Government will turn its back on us. They are committed to looking after their overseas territories.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank personnel at MPA who were involved in operation Silver Teal just this week. Their advice and their help are always very welcome by our emergency services here in the Falklands. We pass on our thanks through CBF – thank you.
The other area which I am very, very delighted with is the bug busters. The Hon Glenn Ross is leading us on this particular group. I would also like to thank you very much to everybody out there who answered the questionnaires. There was a very, very good response and it shows that the earwig problem is throughout Stanley. I believe the group have come up with some suggestions and hopefully we might begin to get our earwig pests under control.
Certainly not pesky was the swimming gala at the Senior School this weekend – or this week. The children at the Falkland Islands community school showed excellent swimming skills and I would like to pass on my congratulations to Fitzroy and Shaclketon Houses who actually came in joint top in the Gala – very good performances by a number of the pupils there.
It’s almost the end of the school year. I would like to say good luck to the pupils who are leaving school this year. I am sure the others who will be returning next year are looking forward to their well-earned holiday and thank-you also to all the contract staff in the Education Department whose contracts are up very shortly.
One thing which is worrying and I know for a number of people is the price of goods in Stanley – the £1.24 orange and the £6.00 lattice seems to becoming more of the norm all of the time. It just brings us back to the time when we are going to have to start growing our own goods. And this is what brings me on to my little gripe and winge this month.
We are going to need gardens – providing the earwigs don’t eat the produce. At the same time, we are still insistent on in-filling our green spaces around. When I stood for election I stood against the infilling of green spaces; and I will continue shouting from the rooftops if need be “stop filling in our green space. Once a house is on it that is it. The green space is lost forever. Infilling in East Stanley is a short term solution. As a Council we have agreed in principle to the development of the West Stanley Housing Project. And I would much prefer to see the money being spent on this project rather than being spent on the infilling of green space, certainly within the area of East Stanley. I believe it’s a short-term solution. It is not a long-term solution. And, following on from the Mink Park Development which was very successful it shows that we do have a huge demand for housing and plots. However, I really do feel very strongly about our green space. And because of this I would be grateful to hear from anybody out there in the community who feels the same as I do about this; and I am going to be putting together a petition to put towards PWD to try and stop the inn-filling of green space. If anybody would like to sign this, please contact me.
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, thank-you very much.
The Hon Mr Glenn Ross (GR):
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to thank the Hon Emma Edwards for stealing my speech. I guess I am not talented enough to change it at such late notice so I will just go ahead and read it as it is.
I, too, am pleased for the people of St Helena that the long overdue airport will now be built. This development is certain to attract major investment, economic growth and exciting opportunities for St Helenians and I wish them well.
Mr Speaker, my congratulations to the new General Manager of FIGAS. This is exactly what our country needs – our own talented people stepping up and taking responsibility. Our task now is to get fully behind him and encourage him to return FIGAS to its rightful place – at the very top of service provision here in the Falklands. This, of course means Councillors, Chief Executives, Tour Operators and users of FIGAS letting FIGAS get on with the task at hand.
Something I noticed in speaking to Falkland Islanders in general terms about our own people rising to take control of departments and operations, we are all in agreement that as soon as a specific name is mentioned or if a senior role is discussed, there’s a scurrying for cover and a whole series of some fairly limp reasons why we should look to recruit from outside. We need to put aside these fairly petty reasons and press on.
Mr Speaker, I am not a fan of ASSI or the MCA. We are a small country of less than 3000 people. We have a history of operating vessels and aircraft safely and to high standards. No one is suggesting promoting unsafe practices. One other aircraft operator told us some months ago that they’d spent £1Million on compliance with ASSI rules and not a penny of that has gone on aircraft safety. We need to dig in and resist needless regulation.
Mr Speaker, July was an entertaining month -the World Cup for us football phonetics and also Farmers’ Week. There’s only so much excitement any man can take. This was, of course, my first Farmers’ Week and I’ve nothing to compare it to. All of the sessions were well attended and I sensed an air of optimism and hopes of a bright future for farming. All that we can do as an assembly is to create opportunities. It is now up to others to seize the day; and hats off to all those involved in the setting up of the Falkland Islands’ Meat Company many years ago. It took a fair amount of vision. I said this before – “FIMCO might not be the ‘last chance saloon but there aren’t too many watering holes for farming after this one.”
There is just one not of slight regret for me. I notice in my recent enforced sole shopping runs that the farm names have disappeared from the meat selections. I quite like seeing Port Howard and Port Luis diced beef and other place names on the packaging.
Mr Speaker, not everyone here in Stanley supports the Camp. I do. I have no wish to imagine the Falkland Islands without the Camp.
Something that is not so good or brilliant – earwigs – my thanks to all of you who returned questionnaires. The response to the questionnaire has been good. We now have over 400 data sets for Stanley and the Camp. This for me was always a first step; we will seek to fill in some of the gaps over the next few weeks. The data that we do now have has been transferred on to a town map. My thanks go to the Public Works Department Design Office for producing this powerful, visual reference and to the Department of Agriculture for collating the data into a thought provoking listing of all the returned comments. It is clear from reading this document that people are employed in a pretty desperate and expensive struggle against these pests. Some 100 of the returned questionnaires were anonymous. It implies to me that there is a reluctance to admit to an infestation. Many others volunteered that the earwigs are outside only. I am really pleased that many people, especially in the Camp, have already taken sensible measures to prevent their spread. All of us, I think, realise that we are up against it so let’s have a good go.
Mr Speaker, we are often challenged on open government. I made it clear during the election that there were times whether as a family, a business or a government, some discussions and decisions have to be made in private. Also, there are some initiatives and documents that are produced, the EDS, for example, that were immediately pounced upon for criticism. I find this slightly sad when opportunities are there for individuals to get involved and shape these documents.
Mr Speaker, I am a big fan of Latin America – most of it – some of it – a little bit actually. But I think it is sensible to have contingencies and well thought out options in place. Mr Speaker, I am also very pleased that the Public Works Department is once again officially the Public Works Department.
I Support the Motion.
The Hon Mrs Sharon Halford (SH):
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, in rising to support the Motion for Adjournment, I would like to take this opportunity to say how privileged I felt sitting at the Infant/Junior School prize-giving in the Town Hall yesterday evening, watching the expressions of pride and achievement on the faces of the little people there; and the obvious competition between the different houses was heartening to see. I believe there is nothing like competition to inspire motivation. I trust the Governor must have been aware that at times even he seemed to pale into insignificance when compared to the prizes and packages the children were receiving.
But my overriding thoughts were that although the children before us were probably blissfully unaware of it the future of the Falklands will one day in their hands, with their lives stretching ahead of them and ever improving opportunities. Each and every one of them has the opportunity to one day be what they choose.
Although I have not been travelling far from home through the winter, I have, on my trips to Stanley, noted that, although the MPA/Darwin Road may not be perfect, it is, nevertheless, in very good shape for this time of the year; and indeed much, much better than it was at this time last year.
On the other side of the coin I am also aware that there are some Camp tracks out and about that deteriorated very considerably just recently. And hopefully some works can be done on some of these as soon as the weather permits. At this time of the year it is not the best time to be doing road or track repairs, unless, of course, there is no other option, as any road works tend to be very messy when everywhere is so wet.
I therefore must thank the road gang who managed to replace the washed out culverts on the San Carlos Track recently; and left behind a much improved crossing which will now be appreciated by all those who use that route. The finished product is a very neat piece of work, too.
Whilst on the subject of Camp Tracks, I would like to mention some other issues surrounding them. And surrounding them is an understatement when it comes to fencing along the sides of some of them. In some places farmers have been issued with fencing materials to enable them to fence off the tracks, thus avoiding the need to install cattle grids. This probably works to the advantage of both parties. But I have noticed that some of these fences are right beside the track. And in some places, right beside the track on both sides of the track, which begs the question: How do you think the track is going to be graded and maintained in the future? As I see it there is no way for a grader to turn around and if materials needed to be carted or dumped on the track there is nowhere for any of the plant to turn around, either.
Whilst I may not be a road builder, I did look at some of these situations and was left scratching my head.
Prior to this Assembly being elected one of the things I said I would like to see is the resumption of the land for Camp Tracks are built upon. And with the road traffic bill going to start appearing before us over the next months – some would like to think years. It is something that I shall be pushing for. There will probably be a move to designate the Camp Tracks out there and though I can see the arguments both for and against this, I do not believe the issue should even be considered until the land underneath and around them has been resumed and some of the tracks improved to the standard where they could quite rightly be called roads.
My last issue in relation to roads is to once again mention that we shall shortly be seeing those beautiful little, white, woolly things appearing – lambs. And I would once more urge drivers to take care when passing through these camps. These little animals and their mothers have as much right to use the road as you and also the same right to life. Your journey can surely not be that important that you cannot pause to let them cross the road ahead of you.
On another transport issue – I think the Honourable Glenn Ross has just about taken my speech from me – I am pleased that we now have another General Manager in place at FIGAS – Morgan Goss – and I wish him well for the future. When I spoke to him earlier this week he mentioned that he alone would not be running the operation. It takes a good all-round team to achieve this and this is what he believes he has.
I hope, with the changes at FIGAS, with a new flight programme, we have created – which is what the public wished for – and also a more cost-effective operation, which is what FIG were looking for – that we have made a step in the right direction. Ultimately time will answer that for us.
On another of my portfolios – Medical Services – I am pleased to say that I have been getting some positive feedback as well as some complaints. I have had written praise for the in-patient treatment that some people have received during their stay in hospital and also much praise for the locum doctors who have been visiting for some months now and we hope that a number of them will wish to return. With complaints, when valid, it is always good to try and find ways for areas to be improved.
At the recent public meeting a question was asked about where money went to when it was donated to the hospital. The hospital now only has one fund for receiving donations – the KEMH Charity Fund. And when donations are made to this fund, it can be specified what area the money should go towards. The old folk’s bus was one such item. Where no specification is made, then the money is put towards something or things that would be beneficial to the greater good of the majority. It would not be used to purchase items that FIG should purchase.
I am currently looking forward to the summer season as no doubt many others are but my reasons are that it would enable me to get into the polly tunnel and garden once more. I suspect that many others will be taking up this activity also with the current price of fruit and vegetables – tomatoes over £1.00 each, oranges, as the Honourable Emma has already mentioned, £1.24 – to name only a couple of items. The keeping of hens may also become more popular with the current price of eggs being over £5.00 a dozen on some of the shelves.
Finally, as this is the last meeting of this House before HE departs these shores, I would like to take this opportunity to wish both him and Helen well for the future and hope that the Falklands have managed to get under their skin and thus they will take with them many fond memories and will not forget us in a hurry. I know we will remember them as I did pass a well sign posted Huckle Corner when out for a drive recently.
Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.
The Hon Mr Dick Sawle (DS):
Mr Speaker, I had recently been away for three weeks. I took advantage of that time to join in a session of interviews in London for companies wishing to tender for our Public Relations Contract. It was very interesting and the competition was quite fierce. Public relations may sound like a large spend with no tangible result but it does deserve our very close attention. This all relates to the image of the Falklands as seen by others and these days with the advantages and disadvantages of the internet it’s all the more important that we push out our messages in a lively, modern and attractive way.
Young people of today and many older ones also no longer read papers but look to the internet for their information and their education. We as a country need to smarten up our image and get engaged with and use these modern tools to their best advantage. Good PR might be hard to measure but bad PR is instant in its effect and once it’s done the damage repairs to reputation and image may take many years.
Our own FIG website, whilst fine if you wish to look up the most recent minutes of the planning committee, is, I would say, parochial, stayed and, quite frankly, boring. It would lose most people’s attention after only a couple of minutes. It’s fine as a research tool and a source of local information but on the world stage where we are now prominent and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, we need to project the right image and the right messages. It’s not difficult and we must do it.
I expect that the successful tenderer will assist us with this aim and will also ensure that we send out the key messages of a forward looking economy, an independent and proud people and our overwhelming desire for political self-determination.
I would also like to touch very briefly on the Economic Development Strategy or EDS. This document has been nearly two years in the making and many people have made their contribution to it. It’s not finished, though and the public consultation period is now upon us with meetings arranged with the Development Board, Chamber of Commerce, the Fishing association, a public meeting, the Rural Business Association and also a radio phone-in. These meetings are all happening in the very near future. And it’s very important that the EDS is given a good airing. Whilst the fixed costs of running the country will always increase, our wealth is effectively in slow decline. The fact is our country costs ever more to maintain and the only way to achieve a sustainable future is to grow the country’s wealth. Simple mathematics means that we require economic growth to sustain our spending. Progress is inevitable but it carries with it financial and social costs.
The EDS spells out potentials and options which need to be debated. There will be those that will wish to see a larger population so as to increase the tax base, have more customers in their shops or benefit from synergies of size and there will also be those who want to keep things the way they are as they will not see any perceived benefit in a growing society. We all must remember this is our future and our document. It’s not owned by the Falkland Islands Government.
But, Mr Speaker, progress is not always welcome. There is always a sense of nostalgia when people refer to ‘good old days’ of 2Metre Sets, mutton, spuds and peas, which, judging on the price of vegetables might be in us again – the days when life was free and easy and there were few restrictions, for example, those occasions when the early hours of Sunday morning, one might spot a ‘Series 2’ leaving the Colony Club in low range and weaving gently up the hill with maximum revs and minimum speed – the only real danger being to near-by telegraph poles. However, a return to the past is never an option. Judging by the number of people who have contacted me over the last few months requesting more TV channels, more radio channels, it does seem that we do have short memories. It wasn’t long ago that the only TV you could watch was a 50p hired video tape of any evenings TV programmes from the UK from Chuck Clifton’s emporium. Trying to get soaps in the right order was totally impossible.
We’ve got what we’ve got and it’s a lot more than we ever had plus, of course, there is always the option to source private TV channels if people wish to have more entertainment. However, it is really good to be able to report today the Camp TV and radio system that is received by satellite is now up and running in almost all areas.
On Cable & Wireless issues, I am pleased that a number of people have taken disputes to Cable & Wireless and have had them looked into and, in some cases, resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. The perception agent reports that FIG commissioned are absolutely vital to our monitoring of perceived quality of the internet service here. It is the only way we have of collecting purely objective data which measures a variety of performance criteria. As you will see from Penguin News this week, we need more volunteers to send data off for analysis. This is the only way we can effectively measure performance. The most recent perception report is very encouraging and shows fewer outages and an improvement in the service provided.
Cable & Wireless have not stood still. They have upgraded the bandwidth and made many changes to the way the local network is set up in order to make increased use of the fibre optic links. Usage updates are now available hourly. They have issued a free bandwidth monitor and have come up with more attractive business packages. Parts of the Camp YMAX system have begun to be replaced in order to improve voice quality and customers are now being moved across to the new soft switch. The most pressing problem at the moment affecting people concerns the e-mail system. And I am aware that Cable & Wireless have employed a consultant to look into this and his report and recommendations will be shared with FIG. But the best way to help test progress or lack of progress is to join in the volunteer programme which is there to monitor the service and give us the information we need to assist. We do need more volunteers.
The internet will always be expensive for us in the Falklands but it is a vital tool for our current and future economic growth. And as I write, there is draft legislation in the pipeline that will go a long way towards assisting with these aims.
Finally, Mr Speaker, I note also in my e-mail inbox many concerns raised about our noisy neighbours. The fact that I haven’t spoken at great length about them doesn’t mean to say that I underestimate their capacity to cause mischief. It would be foolish to go into detail but I am very encouraged by the Coalition Government’s stand on Foreign Policy and know that in particular that with David Cameron and William Hague, we have some very strong support.
I am, of course, happy to speak with anyone who wishes to do so but do agree with my honourable colleague, Jan Cheek, that noisy gunboat diplomacy over the airwaves would not be of benefit to any of us. My plea, if there is one, is that people listening don’t assume that just because the dogs of war have not been let slip or the drums of battle beaten, any of those that you elected are ignoring matters or burying heads in the sand. I can assure you that we are well aware and very attentive.
I support the motion.
The Hon Mr Gavin Short (GS):
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, excuse me. I was probably just about ready to start banging the drum then. In rising to support the Motion for Adjournment I would like to mention just a few things.
As all will be aware the Honourable Emma and myself recently had the privilege of representing the Islands at the C-24 meetings. It was probably in sporting terms like putting a phantom-weight boxer in with a heavy-weight. However, from what we’ve been told after the event, a few of our jabs did get through and caused the opponents some discomfort. It is essential that we continue to attend these meetings and get our point of view across to counter the untruths and twisted versions of events that the Argentines trot out each year.
It is our intention to have different people attending each year. This is probably a very good idea as it will keep our message fresh, which is something that could not be said for the opposition. Indeed, some of what was being said was just a tarred re-patch of stuff they said years before and (seen or seemed) to have nothing to do at all with the subject that we were talking about. I often use a story to help me illustrate a point or to move where I want to be but the long ramble about cattle breeding in Patagonia was delivered by one gentleman, had nothing much to do with anything. Indeed, I think he may have even got to the point of talking about artificial insemination. I have to admit that by that stage I am not 100% sure what he was saying because my mind started doing some very strange things. But for a while I thought I took a wrong turning and got into a meeting that was organised by the Agricultural Department.
For me, what made the occasion almost emotional was the fact that before I left I had peop