Falklands : LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY FRIDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2011 Part 2
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 04.03.2011 (Article Archived on 18.03.2011)
Motion for Adjournment Speeches:
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY FRIDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2011 Part 2;
Motion for Adjournment Speeches: Cllr the Hon Mr Glenn Ross:
Thank you Mr Speaker, Honourable members – I actually don’t have much to say. There are many issues that are being worked on currently and it is frustrating that we are unable to say too much about them at this time. There are, though, some exciting initiatives and opportunities and I hope the numbers fall in our favour. I would like to thank the Falkland Islands Development Corporation and Government Officials for their additional work on these issues.
It is pretty obvious that one of these is shipping. I continue to be content with our support of shipping links with Latin America. It has provided a route out of our Islands for our meat and wool cargos. It has also in the past year supported the many local businesses that either import directly or via Latin America. Our exposure as a Government was for a fixed amount of money over a finite period of time. When the money runs out in June the present arrangement at that point come to an end.
For several years now we have had a significant container yard as needed. This containerisation of fish is seen also as a major driver of a new port. We are building the container yard now and at a significant cost.
As a Government all we can do is to create the opportunities. It is up to others to take advantage of them. Time will tell on the container yard. I have been to the worksite several times. It is a major undertaking and the work looks good. My thanks to the Public Works Department, who had carefully laid plans for the year but then quite quickly had to add in services for this project.
Mr Speaker, in all the areas that we are looking at I favour the options that move us outside the influence of others. I favour the options that put us in control and make us more sustainable and independent. We do at times like to play the defenceless victim. I think it’s a time to be bold and assertive.
Mr Speaker, on a few other issues of interest, Cape Pembroke – I am not in favour of any more of the Falkland Islands being fenced off in the name of anything or anyone. Common sense off road driving should be allowed and I do like the Honourable Dick Sawle’s idea of a 4x4 Club similar to that of the Motocross Club.
I also want to mention briefly the impressive numbers achieved by FIMCO so far this season. If my basic sums are correct it’s something like 6,000 more lambs than at the same time last year. This is a credit to FIMCO, livestock suppliers’ groups and especially our farmers.
Mr Speaker, finally my thanks to the Attorney General for his service to the Falkland Islands. He has always given sound advice to Members of this Assembly on National and International Law, often to my frustration. Nevertheless I wish him all the very best for the future.
Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.
The Hon Mrs Sharon Halford:
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I think the Honourable Glenn just about covered some of the things I was going to say.
Recently we had a phone-in on Cape Pembroke with one of the issues highlighted being that of driving off road. As this is part of Stanley Common I do not think it should be for us or for that matter anyone of the people to dictate to the public at large how they spend their leisure time. The Common is just that – a common – and is there for all to enjoy whilst respecting that, that is what others wish to do also.
I grew up in the Falklands enjoying the delights and sometimes disasters of off-road driving and was brought up believing that when you drive off road you do so in a manner that leaves behind very little indication that you were there. Back in those days – and that tells my age – we had no roads and wherever you drove you did so with respect, knowing that you and others would probably have to use the route again.
Even now, when off-roading, I still apply this principle and respect to whoever’s land I may be on. I am aware that some of you out there who do not drive like this and insist on getting your vehicles totally covered in mud. I am sure it’s good fun. However, do you not think it would be even more fun if you got together and formed a 4X4 club or association and found a challenging track somewhere where you could actually hold events, not dissimilar to what the motor bike owners do now? If you were to get yourselves organised then I would suggest that you would be amazed at just how many others would wish to participate in your type of fun also. If organised it could be a really good day out for both participants and spectators alike.
On the subject of driving, I think I should touch on the subject of roads once more. All the roads which have been built with public funds are there for the public at large to use. Once built, they do not become the private property of individual farms. It is therefore rather sad to see notices in some places banning people from going further along the road, when in fact they have every right to do so, as that notice is not at the end of the road that has been constructed. I have seen several people turn around on our roads when they have encountered a shut gate. No fault of the farmer in these instances and I have spoken to a couple of them who, being new to the Islands, did not realise that they were able to continue along the road and all they had to do was open and shut the gate. It does highlight the fact that we are sadly lacking in signs when it comes to tourism. It is OK for residents who know the score. But for visitors there is little indication as they drive around of what facilities are available along the way. For example, how many B&B signs do you see with a vacant or full notice underneath? How often is it signposted where people might call in for refreshments? And how many signs are there pointing to places of interest? This is something that I believe the RDS were keen to work at and I am sure that it will benefit one and all in the rural community when this project is progressed.
This year we have not been able to undertake the amount of road maintenance that I would like to have seen, due to a shortage of funding, plant and manpower. And it is something that will need to be carefully looked at and considered in pending budget discussions. We still need more cattle grids on the roads; and if we are not able to up our game in the area of road maintenance in general then the roads are likely to fall into an even greater state of disrepair, which will then have a knock-on effect for farmers trying to transport wool, livestock and other goods and produce. It will also affect tourism and put into question the taking forward of the RDS.
On the shipment of wool, this is still being worked on and I will be giving farmers an update and more detail later today in my weekly round-up.
I was somewhat surprised to read this morning in Penguin News a letter from B. Peck of Stanley, part of which states: It’s been advertised that there are just four seats remaining on the plane that will be carrying the next of kin from Argentina to Mount Pleasant on the 2nd of April. The coaches will transport them to the Argentine Cemetery and, that after 3.5 hours they will be returned to the aircraft at Mount Pleasant. Obviously the writer appears to know more than officials in either the Falkland Islands or HMG. Any trip like this would first have to seek approval from Executive Council. No request has been received to date for this or any other such visit.
FIG has given a public holiday for the 29th of April this year for people to celebrate the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. As this should be a community event, I wonder if anyone or any group have, as yet, thought of a way to celebrate? And I will be keen to hear of any ideas.
This is the last meeting of this Assembly where we will have David Pickup, the current Attorney General, in attendance. So you could say that when you had queries or problems in the future that we would be no longer able to pa-pa-pick-up a Penguin. However, on a serious note, I would like to thank David for his advice and help to us since we were elected as nothing was ever a problem for him, although on occasion it probably was and he was too polite to say otherwise. I would like to wish him all the best, a pleasant journey home and retirement, although he will probably find that retirement could be far more busy and demanding than actually working.
Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.
The Hon Mr Gavin Short:
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, in rising to support the Motion for Adjournment I would seek your indulgence to go from my customary counter around the paddock of life.
You know, in spite of Argentina’s never-ending attempts to blockade us and strangle our economic growth; in spite of us getting a side-swipe from a recession which did have an impact upon us; in spite of pressures that are yet to come from Central Government on our own pockets from the rise in fuel prices that will eventually impact upon us and even in spite of my rather gloomy predictions that this year is going to be a tough one with the dreaded neighbours coming at us with everything that they can –politically speaking – I am still convinced as ever I was that we are lucky – very, very lucky to be living in such a wonderfully clean and serene place as the Falklands.
Alas it only seems like yesterday that I rose in this House and extended my condolences to the people of New Zealand at the time of the mine disaster and it is now with a heavy heart that I extend my deepest sympathy to that country and its people once again in its hour of grief that the terrible earthquake has caused. And I am sure that this whole House will join with me in saying that our thoughts are with you all.
It seems almost unbelievable you see such turmoil in the world – the earthquakes that I have mentioned and the continuing quakes in Chile. The Chileans in affected regions have become that used to them now that even some as strong as 6 on the Richter scale are referred to only as tremors; also the rapidly changing pace of politics in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. Here in our little country we seem to be sailing along quite serenely. It may appear that way but in truth there is a tumult of things going on both private and political matters. I think I once likened life in Council here as like riding an over-excited Kangaroo. It bounds and leaps along while you are hanging on for dear life. And such is the pace of life at the moment. As difficult and as heavy as things may be, this is one ride that I would not have missed for the world. Alas, though, a good deal of what is happening must stay out of the public’s gaze for some time yet and some of it may never see the light of day. But you can be sure that there are great efforts afoot to try and assure that our country has the tools to continue on its path of economic expansion.
Even on the lighter side of life there suddenly seems to be a lot happening. We are soon to send our teams off to the Overseas Games and I know that we will all be rooting for them to give it all they have. How happy to let this House know that as a sort of preparation for the Games and also as a celebration of Sport in general, the Overseas Games Association have been extremely busy organising a whole host of events that are scheduled to take place on the football field area for a whole week commencing around the middle of March. I am told that the events planned involve a week-long football tournament, the possibility of letting the old-timers loose to show the youngsters how football should be played, (otherwise known as the Falklands Match, Mr Ross) there are plans for some athletic training sessions, a possible Cricket Match involving the youngsters who attended the recent ICC training sessions, (And even I wouldn’t mind taking a look at that.) and they are even contemplating an outdoor netball match plus target golf and possibly even a good old Rounder’s session. It looks as if one of the only major sports that will sadly have to be left out of the centralised celebration will be the full bore and pistol shot-gun paternity. This could lead to a smaller contingent going off to represent us. I really think, though, it will be brilliant to see such a celebration of sport. And I firmly have every finger crossed that this will become an annual event. A real sports week without hangovers is a lot healthier than that of the last sports.
Talking of health, I now happily move on to the No Smoking legislation that was recently passed. I am not going to shed a tear over not being able to enjoy a bit of baccy whilst leaning against my favourite bar counter. What is done is done. It’s the lunacy of the signage that I wish to take to task. As one person said to me, the town actually looks scruffier for all the “No Smoking Signs” that are plastered everywhere. Even, I believe, they are supposed to be nailed to pub tables. But it’s possibly just as well that no one can light up indoors now days. It’s just one stray cinder that would make all the no smoking signs go up in smoke and would probably raise half of Stanley to the ground. I do think – nay, a plead – that a little common sense can prevail. No publican or whoever it may be is going to wilfully let someone flash up knowing full well that it would cost him or her, their licence. I would like to ask my colleagues that they be minded to take a look at the small print of the ordinance and perhaps make it a little more common sense.
I am more than a little nervous to mention immigration at the moment as our local paper, I believe, seems to be taking a very lively interest on the subject. But at long last papers are starting to appear in EXCO and indeed at this House. Movement of the forward variety is starting to be made and I really would like to thank all those who have been involved with this from Robert and Wendy who have been driven mad trying to meet deadlines for EXCO papers as well as doing their day jobs right through to those in the Legal Department who have done their part in making sure that we keep everything legal, decent and truthful, even though, on occasions this has lead to some fairly exciting flurries of e-mails and differences of opinions. It is going to take time and I ask your patience. Everyone is doing what they can to bring things up to date but there are only so many people that we have at our disposal and only so many hours in a day that they can be working on it. And even they want to be able to spend time with their families and have a bit of life away from PRP points and the like.
We will carry on addressing the most important issues – addressing the most urgent issues first, meaning that there is going to be a few things waiting to be addressed but we will do it. I am hopeful that my colleagues around this table will finally get to see sight of the tweaks that the IRG has proposed to the points system – probably at this next EXCO. We think that they make the system fairer.
Over our history we have needed and indeed depended not just on managers but also the entrepreneurs but also the labourers, the shepherds, the people who never rose to be great leaders but came here and worked solidly and quietly away alongside native born Islanders who didn’t quit when things got even tougher than they already normally were and who are still here today, now happily retired.
The same is just as true now. We need all types of people in our country and it is very much hoped that the amendments that are heading our way will carry on that tradition. These Islands aren’t just for the rich.
If accepted in their present form, will our amendments cause a sudden surge in applications? I would say yes. And it’s not to be wondered at because as things stand now there is an almighty log jam of good, hard-working people who just can’t make the grade. Will this cause the Islands to suddenly become overrun with people? I would say the answer is no. These people are already here and working. There is a cap set on the amount of people who can attain the giddy heights of getting PRP and the like each year. Now this can be lowered or increased as required. The points themselves can be adjusted to slow or quicken or alter the type of flow. This is what an immigration system should be – a living thing – able to react to the needs of the country fairly quickly. An open-door policy it is not. People will still have to show commitment to the Islands before they can apply.
I would like to use this opportunity to pass on my very best wishes to two people who will be leaving us after serving our country well – our Attorney General and our Head of Community Safety and Chief Police Officer. I wish you both well, especially you in your retirement, sir and Gary for his future. And, I know whoever may employ Gary in the future is getting a very good man. And I do wish them both the very best of luck.
Talking of good men and ladies, this brings me to the review of the structure of Government that we would like to have. Many of us at the time of the election had doubts about the new structure and especially the so called super heads, seeing it is moving the hurdle higher and making the chances of a local getting some of the posts even remoter – almost denying us in the aspiration of having our own people fill the posts from the top down and I do apologise for using the word, aspiration. I have not nor will I forget about the dream of this being the case. And I will take some convincing that we should leave things as is.
I have no enthusiasm for somebody being brought in from the outside to do the review. Looking at the lunacy that is gripping the rest of the world, I have a real terror they may bring some of it with them. I once said, tongue in cheek, that we should study what the rest of the world is doing, understand it completely then do exactly the opposite. They have got themselves in a right old mess. I rather think that we should adhere to this with our review.
That said, whatever is done must be done with absolute regard for the feelings of our civil service. I hope that they will be giving a real input to how they see life and the present structures and this must be done in such a way that they can speak out without fear of retribution at a later stage. We have a good set of workers within Government. A lot of them have gone through the mill, have worked short-handed month after month, not just at the top but also at the lower levels. And they
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That said, this review will happen. It’s just the form that we have to do it in that needs sorting out. And, again, I must ask that it takes into account the sensitivities of the workforce of the Falkland Islands.
Finally, before sitting down, I think it worth mentioning that the 2nd of April as well as being the anniversary of when those nasty people took our country and liberty away from us all those years ago, it is also World Autism Day. I spotted the post on facebook from somebody here in the Islands - someone who had the courage to start talking about autism, especially in children – their child – and to organise a raffle to try and raise money to put a fund for support together. I take my hat off to you for mentioning what almost seems to be an unmentionable affliction. I would like to ask those of you listening out there just to take a little time to google autism and ASD and see what it is – the range of symptoms, of affects to make yourself a little bit more aware of what it’s all about. Like a great many out there I was ignorant until I came face to face with the situation with my own child. Whilst I believe that at long last strides are being made in schools to understand and teach these children, many of whom will go on to make a full and real contribution to our country, it is the parent who often left in a vacuum after a diagnosis is made. I know from experience that it is like being shut into a very dark and empty room you suddenly realise you are faced with something you know absolutely nothing about and we all react in different ways.
The internet is a wonderful tool but it is also quite confusing as there is a lot of contradictory information out there and no two children will ever be the same. I sincerely hope that one day a network can be established for parents by the parents, as well as educational and medical professionals both for those days immediately after the diagnosis is made and you start to come to terms with the situation - a safety net; an outstretched hand of friendship and understanding that could be there if and when you want it and, indeed, for afterwards. It is good to be able to swap experiences and methods for helping children; to know that both you and they are not alone.
In the meantime, I salute you, Jodie and Roy. You have my full support and I believe that great things will come from your openness and courage.
Mr Speaker, after delivering something which will put on par with the great Cuban orator and hero of mine, I support the Motion for Adjournment.
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