Falklands : PUBLIC MEETING REPORT FOR 14 DECEMBER 2010
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 19.12.2010 (Article Archived on 09.01.2011)
A public meeting took place at 1700hrs on Tuesday, 14 December 2010 in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall.
PUBLIC MEETING REPORT FOR 14 DECEMBER 2010
By J. Brock (FINN)
A public meeting took place at 1700hrs on Tuesday, 14 December 2010 in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall. Present were the Hon Roger Edwards, the Hon Dick Sawle, the Hon Gavin Short, the Hon Sharon Halford and the Hon Glenn Ross. The Hon Jan Cheek and the Hon Emma Edwards arrived late due to an extended oil meeting. Approximately 40 members of the public were also in attendance.
The Anti Drink-Drive Campaign:
There were no written or formal questions, so Lewis Clifton began with a question about the anti-drink drive programme that will take place over Christmas – New Year.
“It does seem as though it’s a ‘rat on your neighbour campaign that I find rather devisive in the Falklands’ society and I wonder what the Councillor in charge of the Police Portfolio might think of that,” asked Mr Clifton.
Gavin Short said that t’s really on your conscience whether you do or you don’t and Lewis Clifton expressed the opinion that it wasn’t a good thing to do in a season of good will and cheer. He went on to say that we know the folks who are killed each year through drink-drive.
Recruitment of Officers from Overseas Unaccompanied by Their Partners:
Lewis Clifton expressed the opinion that there seems to be a trend of recruiting Government Officers from Overseas who are unaccompanied by their partners and/or children. He mentioned the in-bound Attorney General arriving without a family and he went on to say he wasn’t sure it was a good thing for society when those officers were working at the corporate level and not having an appreciation of society beneath them when they are living separate from their families.
Dick Sawle said he was unaware of any campaign of recruiting single people to come down alone. He said he was concerned that people with children with special needs that we can’t cater for would be recruited. “That is something we need to take into account during the recruitment process,” he said.
Sharon Halford pointed out that a number of people who apply for jobs here have partners with jobs they feel unable to leave. She agreed with Mr Clifton’s sentiments but she also was unaware of any policy shift towards unaccompanied people from overseas applying for posts here.
Lewis Clifton then said he wondered if it was right for the Falklands when Officers were recruited when their families were left behind. He went on to say that the Falklands needed to secure the maximum from any contract officer and that might not be possible if his family were left behind, being part focused here and part focused overseas.
Dick Sawle pointed out that members of Legislative Assembly aren’t responsible for recruitment of contract officers. As a small society we couldn’t take on the burden of having children with special needs present during the term of contract. However, he knew that this was not the question Mr Clifton had asked.
Roger Spink asked about scrutiny when unaccompanied Officers go away on business. Dick Sawle said he wasn’t aware of that problem until it was mentioned by Mr Spink.
The Recruitment of Local People for Jobs in Government:
Derek Howatt mentioned that it was policy to recruit – wherever possible – to recruit local people for jobs in Government. He added that he thought it was a requirement of all contract officers to train a local successor and that over the last 27 years Chief Executives have failed to do that. “I just wonder how they manage to preach this policy to other Directors when they fail to do so?” he added. After 27 years, he surmised, by this time they would have trained a local person.
Sharon Halford said that where ever possible it is a requirement for Officers to train local successors. “When they are appointed we have to make sure that they are capable of doing the job as well,” she said.
Dick Sawle took his point and agreed that succession training needed to be taken seriously. He added that there are officers specifically tasked to train up people to follow in their footsteps. He mentioned that other posts might have difficulty in doing so. He mentioned Medical Doctors, Teachers and Engineers.
It is Roger Edwards’ opinion that two posts within Government should go to overseas applicants. One was Governor and the other was Chief Executive. “I think they should be given a total of 3 years and that’s it,” he said.
Phil Middleton wanted to make sure that local people had the training and experience that everyone else did. “We are in the international circuit and they recruit people who are the best in their field.” He said that qualified Falkland Islanders should be put on the same circuit and when they get the opportunity to come to the Falklands, they are given a contract – the same contract that every qualified person is given. “If they fulfill, they can have another contract; if they don’t come up to standard their contract is over,” he said.
Glenn Ross disagreed with Roger Edwards about localisation of the Chief Executive’s post. “Straight away I can think of half a dozen Falkland Islanders who can do the job very well,” he added.
Others agreeing with Glenn Ross about a local Chief Executive were Jan Cheek and Gavin Short. Dick Sawle agreed but said qualifications of a local candidate needed to be the focus rather than the fact that he or she was local.
Roger Edwards brought out the point that medical doctors, engineers and teachers needed to have the right qualifications but that having the right qualifications id not equivalent to having the wherewithal to get the job done. He mentioned Tex Hobman who rightly observed that years ago men with no qualifications got the job done and now qualified people can’t seem to do the job.
Most agreed that the top job should be for a finite period of time – three or four years – and not a job for life.
Medical Services Levy:
Tim Miller brought up the Medical Services Levy with Dick Sawle saying that to balance the budget we could decide not to raise the money and cut services and medical services would be an area that was hit. Jan Cheek said that the most optimistic estimate of the money raised was that it would cover is just 10% of the cost of providing the service. Tim Miller added that when it was first introduced it was sold as general public support for Medical Services. People would pay more if they saw the money being earmarked for medical services. Now days it goes to the treasury and may not go specifically to Medical Services. He said that the ordinance referred to an employment tax.
Dick Sawle mentioned that it always was an employment tax. Roger Edwards said that the old medical services levy ordinance – the very first line stated that the medical services levy is a tax. If it were an income tax we would have to put taxes up by 5%, hitting employees and not employers.