Falklands : The Hon Mrs Sharon Halford’s Motion for Adjournment Speech
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 08.06.2011 (Article Archived on 22.06.2011)
The ever increasing fuel prices are pushing the costs of many things up, including travel, heating and electricity.
The Hon Mrs Sharon Halford’s Motion for Adjournment Speech
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, in rising to support the Motion for Adjournment, I suspect for many the result of this budget will be a warning that we do need to live within our means. Whilst we may think we are hard done by here in the Falklands, if you look around the world today we are still, in my view, much better off than so many others and we should not lose sight of this.
The ever increasing fuel prices are pushing the costs of many things up, including travel, heating and electricity. And some may be even wishing they could go back to peat, even with the dust and hard work the whole process required.
Electricity prices are always going with the price of fuel but the wind turbines have greatly reduced this cost. I hope that when the price of fuel reduces again – I can but dream – that we will be able to reduce the electricity cost accordingly; as with modern living, electricity is in one way or another is vital to most.
I am very pleased that we have been able to continue offering the winter fuel allowance for our senior citizens and also their Christmas bonus. There is no doubt that in some way or another we will be affected and will need to tighten our belts a notch or two.
I would now like to respond to a question asked by the Honourable Bill Luxton on Wednesday of this week in relation to the cost make-up of the cattle grid replaced and installed at the Fox Bay airstrip. I stated on Wednesday that the total cost of this was £9,800.00 and can be broken down as follows: £2,300.00 was for the materials supplied, which included steel, aggregates, cement, and timber. And the remaining £7,500.00 was for the works. This cost was applicable for all grids constructed during the last season on both East and West Falkland. Whilst we all complain about rising costs, it is perhaps worth noting that the cost of cattle grid construction has nearly tripled since 2008, whilst our budget has not.
Mr Speaker, perhaps I need to stress to the Honourable Bill Luxton that the views of both East and West residents are already presented to the Committee through their local representatives and other members of that committee.
Whilst on the subject of roads, we will be having a meeting of the Transport Advisory Committee next week; and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have taken the time to respond to my questions.
As always, we will be limited to funding and will struggle to do the work necessary to simply keep the road network operable without thinking about additional roads. At this time of the year everyone seems to think their stretch of the road is the worst; and of course someone will be right as many of the roads have a fair concentration of clay in them, they are not at their best when wet.
Perhaps we should take a reality check and step back and reflect on what it was like before we had the Road Transport Network and ask if we are any better off today. I suspect in most cases but not all the answer would be yes.
Whilst we are grateful for the support afforded us by the UK Government and are grateful for the continuing presence of many men and women at Mount Pleasant, we should not be complacent and think that everyone else in the UK is of the same view or in fact even know about the Falklands. All too often people overseas think we are reliant on everything from the UK including funding. What a surprise when they realize that’s wrong. They then become keen to learn the facts. And though many visitors to the Islands go away as good ambassadors, we cannot rely solely on them and must make the use of all avenues when it comes to getting the Falklands’ message out and about. It is always a challenge but one that we must keep plugging away at.
Our Island Games representatives will be heading north in June to once more represent the Falklands overseas. This time we have a group of 43 competitors covering a variety of sports, who range in age from as young as 14 years. All of the competitors have to put in a lot of time and hard work into their particular sport and may be able to compete. And they should be congratulated on their efforts and commitment. Sport is a great way to meet others and as they do this on our behalf they will be flying the Falklands’ Flag.
I wish each and every one of them all the best in their endeavors to obtain a medal. I am given to understand that all supporters will be supported at the games with eight officials, admin staff, accompanying them plus 14 VIPs who will include Governor Haywood, our previous Governor, Alan Huckle and the Honourable Dick Sawle, to name a few. In addition to those already mentioned, there are known to be 70 spectators with more expected. It is anticipated, therefore, that the Falklands’ contingent will total upwards of 150 on this occasion. It will be really good for the competitors to have such support.
We continually hear how important education is for our children and I, for one, would not despute this. They should be given every opportunity we can afford to give them. And one would hope that they, in turn, will make the most of the opportunities open to them.
That said, I was somewhat disappointed when I met with last year’s youngsters who were, at the time, were about to embark on their “A” Levels abroad. When asked what they all hoped to do in the future, many shrugged their shoulders and said they didn’t know. I hope, if we get the opportunity to meet the youngsters about to leave for higher education this year that they will be more positive and have a clearer idea of what their ultimate aims are.
With money not growing on trees, I think it is time that we started to look at exactly what our needs are in the Falklands and only give full funding to students who are working towards qualifications that are relevant to and needed in the Falklands. Lesser funding could then be considered for other subjects. I believe there are many opportunities in the Islands and all our youngsters should be made aware of these; especially with the push on succession planning in FIG and hopefully an expanding private sector.
When I went off to the UK recently there were 8 full seats around the table at Gilbert House. And when I returned the seat next to me was vacant as a result of the resignation of Glenn Ross. I must mention him here and thank him for all his positive contributions to our many debates. The red mist did not descend too often. He was always very focused, quietly putting his points of view across but accepted that you can’t win them all and when you are out-voted, even if you are right, it is a democracy and you have to live with it and move on and win another issue.
He will be missed but as we all know, there is to be a by-election in June and I shall look forward to working with whomever the electorate decide will best represent them.
The Hospital has had its ups and downs over the years and we seem to be continually struggling to get enough people to fill the posts. However, it is a reasonably large department when it comes to staff covering many different areas of expertise. The biggest lost for many will be Dr Diggle when his contract comes to an end next month. He seems to have been with us forever but then 20 years is a fair time in anyone’s career. Having gained much and varied experience whilst here and a very good understanding of and appreciation for our way of life, he will be a hard act to follow.
I would like to take this opportunity to publically thank him for his hard work in the Islands over the years and wish him and Jean all the best for the future.
I would like to once again mention fostering and thank all of those people who have come forward to offer their services to those in need. I realize that for most people interested in doing this they do so because they care not because they expect to earn any great amount from it. The reward itself is in making a difference and caring for those most in need. However, the allowances for foster carers were increased recently and we are still in need of more people on our books. So do please come forward if you feel you can make a difference.
I was hugely dismayed this week when I read the article in Penguin News about the removal of the Reindeer from South Georgia. These Reindeer will have been there for over 100 years – well, they and their ancestors. What have they done to deserve this? There was no mention of the removal of the invasive species that put them there in the first place – man. I see this as a very stark warning to us of environmentalists and conservationists having gone over the top by any stretch of the imagination. How many birds on that Island would be an invasive species, too, as they probably flew there from somewhere else many years ago? Some may even have been taken there. How many plants will have germinated there from what birds have left behind? Will they, too, be removed as they are an invasive species? How far should we let these things go? Next thing we will be hearing is that it was a mistake to have culled all the Reindeer and it should not have been done. It will be too late to turn back the clock then.
I ask all of you out there who appreciate our environment and wish to conserve it – conserve what we have for our successors – to take note and do not follow this example in the Falklands. Let us be proud of what we have here, however it arrived. And whilst it may be necessary to control some things, we should be living and let live. Remember, you cannot go back, you can only make the most of what you have today, whatever that is, and move forward.
And I would just like to suggest to my Honourable Colleague on my right – the Honourable Gavin Short – that the Medical Department do not condone either smoking or drinking. However, passive smoking is also harmful to non-smokers.
And to finish, some of my Honourable Colleagues have said that they have not as yet met anyone who does not like summertime in winter. For the record, let me say I absolutely hate the dark mornings. I like to go to bed and have a good night’s sleep and not have to get up in what appears to be the middle of the night. It may be good for business and all the keep fit enthusiasts but I suggest that for many, it is simply depressing.
And on that note, Mr Speaker, I support the Motion
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