Falklands : Legislative Assembly Speech by The Hon Mrs Sharon Halford
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 31.10.2011 (Article Archived on 14.11.2011)
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, in rising to support the Motion for Adjournment I would like to touch on the issue of the dissemination of information
The Hon Mrs Sharon Halford:
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, in rising to support the Motion for Adjournment I would like to touch on the issue of the dissemination of information. We are often taken to task for how we get information out to the public and a good example of this is when the building advisor put out some proposed changes to the Planning and Building Regulations for consideration and feedback. This was advertised in Penguin News, on FIRS and I also sent the document out to all on my mailing list. After this I understand the subject was mentioned on Facebook, after which I received a call and was asked why the information had not been made public; and how could you obtain it. Sometime later, just before the closing date for the comments I received a somewhat irate call from a member of the public who had not been made aware of this consultation process. When I pointed out to the caller that it had been advertised in Penguin News I was told they didn’t read it. I then said it had been advertised on FIRS and was told they didn’t listen to that. I ended by saying it had also gone out on my mailing list and had been mentioned on Facebook with the answer that they didn’t do Facebook. I then asked what else could have been done to advertise the issue. We can try as we might and exhaust all the media efforts available but if people do not make use of any of them, I don’t know what else we are meant to do.
Earlier this week we had our regular public meeting which I went to and then walked out on before it started. My reason for this was that no one had bothered to mention and I had not picked up in minutes at that time that a show of hands had been taken at a previous meeting about whether or not to allow filming to take place. Although I am not camera shy, I do not see why I should be filmed by FITV if I do not wish to be. I do, however, congratulate FITV on what they are trying to do and are achieving but I believe this is a service that could gradually be provided further afield than just Stanley. And until such time as I see some considerable progress in this area, I shal remain off camera and therefore away from the public meetings.
I can still be contacted on any issue by anyone whether they are in Camp or Stanley by either phone, e-mail, or in person.
As people will be aware, I was out of the Falklands for a month attending the Liberal, Labour and Conservative Party Conferences with the Honourable Roger Edwards. These conferences are really good opportunity for us to thank people from all walks of life for their continued support for the Islands and bring them up to speed with all things Falkland. And we also had the opportunity to meet with many MPs. These trips are no holiday and the long days can be quite tiring but they are something that I believe are necessary for us to continue to do. We can never have too many friends and supporters.
Probably most times we go shopping we manage to have a rant about the cost of this or that. I was somewhat shocked to see that many prices on supermarket shelves in the UK were very little different to here in the Falklands. As someone who likes blueberries, to use as an example, I had to pay more or less the same price in England as I do here in the Falklands. So perhaps we are not always as hard done by as we think. But the reality is that world-wide prices are on the up.
Next week will see the referendum on the single constituency. To me the most important issue to consider is that the Falklands are a country that comprise of Stanley and the Camp; the later being made up of East, West and the islands. It is essential for the Falklands if they are to continue to grow and progress for all of these areas to work together as I doubt any single area could be able to stand alone without the others. Currently when we have a general election we have to stand for a particular constituency; but the moment we are sworn in we then have to work together for what we believe to be the greater good of the Falklands as a whole. Interestingly the make-up of Executive Council has one seat each for Stanley and the Camp and a 3rd for “Either/OR.” But if someone is absent from the Camp, the stand-in does not have to be from that constituency. That happened recently when all the Camp Constituency members were out of the Islands. This does then beg the question as to why we need two constituencies.
This is the third Assembly I have had the privilege to serve on and on all there there has always been firm support for the Camp by the majority of members. I have heard some arguments both in favour of and against the referendum. But something to consider is whether or not you think you would have a larger pool of candidates to vote for in an election if it was one constituency rather than as it currently is with two. I hope people in Stanley say that they wish they could have voted for some people who stood in Camp and I have also heard for many people in Camp who wish they could have voted for some people who stood in Stanley.
Only you, the electorate can decide whether or not you should move to one constituency or stay as we are. Please use your vote.
Now that we have a by-election to take place I hope we see all those people who are all too ready to criticise everyone and everything that has been done or is a work in progress, putting themselves forward for election. If you have an opinion on everything which you continually like to share then would you not be a good candidate. Now is the time to stand up and be counted.
Speaking of elections, I note that the Argentine people have re-elected their President for another term. Unless things change over there, which I doubt, then we will continue to hear more and more of the miss-information and complete distortion of truth and fact. The way Argentina appears to be claiming parts of the world at random – they are now showing maps that show parts of Antarctica as being part of Argentina. The rest of the world had best beware, for soon Argentina will be claiming the whole world piece by piece. I would not wish to live in such a delusional bubble where truth and fact are cast aside and fiction appears to be the norm. if they ever wake up and face reality they could be in for a shock.
I would like to publicly congratulate all our young graduates who recently achieved such good results. They are a credit to their parents and the Falklands. They have bright futures ahead and I wish them well as they start down the path of their chosen careers.
My Honourable Colleague Dick Sawle mentioned some hospital policies which have gone slightly array of late. I give my assurance that I am still hot on the tail of those. But some other hospital policies have also been brought to my attention. It would appear to be somewhat unfair – namely who it is to be funded to accompany newly born babies overseas; and a policy for funding parents overseas when difficult births are anticipated. The current policies in these areas do not appear to be on a level playing field. I have therefore asked that these policies be brought before the Hospital and Medical Services Committee in January and have ordered for them to be reviewed. And I hate to disappoint not only the Financial Secretary but inform the Honourable Dick Sawle that the medical budget is very likely not ever to be reduced. It’s going to go the other way.
And finally, I would like to finish by wishing Emma all the best as she prepares to start a new chapter in her life.
Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.