Falklands : Motion for Adjournment Speech by the Hon Mr Mike Summers
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 05.03.2012 (Article Archived on 19.03.2012)
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I would like to provide my very warm welcome to Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner.
Motion for Adjournment Speech by the Hon Mr Mike Summers:
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I would like to provide my very warm welcome to Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. Thanks for coming to see us and thanks also to his aide, Todd Washam. Itís a long and arduous journey as others have noted. I welcome you with the same warmth as we welcome all visitors to these Islands and I would like to say how good it was to see the Minister from the Coalition Government, David Willits here earlier in the week; and his colleagues from BAS. We have very close relationships with British Antarctic Survey and itís good to see them stopping off to talk to us as they pass through. And we also look very much forward to welcoming the Defence Select Committee here in due course. This appears to be a secret everywhere other than the British media. They are coming and we hope to welcome them into Stanley for part of their visit.
Rural Development Strategy: I would like to talk about a couple of areas that need highlighting and for which I have some responsibility. The rural Development Strategy in particular. We have finally got the strategy approved in Executive Council probably 3 years after it was written. That must be almost a record. So we have the policy agreed for the way forward for the Camp. We now have to work together with Colleagues Ian Hansen and the Camp Members and the people who live in the Camp on an action plan as to what is required. I have had a number of discussions with people already about labour supply and how we increase the quantity of labour in Camp; also interestingly about water because not only Stanley experiences difficulties with water but also the farming areas. And I think we need to be addressing ourselves to that in the near term and how we improve the services for Camp. A lot of things are going already, of course, in terms of Agriculture, Roads, Ferries, etc. There are other areas that need to be addressed and to be addressed urgently and to get some of the funds we made available for Rural Development actually out and in action.
On Tourism: The tourism Development strategy is better advanced. I was incensed during the course of the week to see a very ill informed comment in the editorial in the Penguin News about the recruitment of a new General Manager for the Falkland Islands Tourist Board and I told her so. We have struggled with three different agencies trying to deliver the Tourism Development Strategy. We have FITB itself, which is a Membersí Organisation, we have a Tourism Development Strategy Group, which is a group of people representing essential Government interests and we also have the Falkland Islands Development Corporation. And each of those groups has done excellent work in their own areas but pulling them together into a cohesive arrangement is really important.
We have an extraordinary General meeting of the FITB shortly to talk in that group about how we can improve communications and what we can do to reform the FITB if necessary to make sure that Tourism is delivered from one point that supports the tourism industry. And the staff that we put in place in the FITB will be absolutely critical to that and it will help take some of the load off some of the other organisations but having said that, we have made some very good progress. I am delighted to see that the Museum Project is about to get underway under the custodianship of the Museum and National Trust and not the Government and I think thatís a great decision. We have approved money for the construction of new toilets Ė isnít it extraordinary what a fuss that can cause? And we have made huge progress in marketing the Falklands both in the United States and in Europe so I think we are making some real progress.
One of the key issues remains around air links and there are two different strands of discussions taking place in terms of air-links, how we can develop a route to the United States, which would support passenger exchanges for expedition vessels and also substantive air-links between the Falklands and the Northern Hemisphere - whether they go into the United States or whether they go into the United Kingdom. But what I can, again, assure the general public of is in the unlikely event that the Argentine Government does try and stop the LAN Flight, we do have contingencies in place that will enable people to still travel and do the work that they want to do and still have abilities to get tourists here to the Falklands. And particularly to the Chilean Community, we do have contingencies in place to be able to get you back home if that is what is required.
We are clearly not going to talk in detail about what those contingencies are because we donít wish to give the enemy the opportunity to then respond to them. But they are there and in place so please be reassured about that.
The Review of Government: Thank-you to Irene Lucas for producing what I think is an excellent report. It delivered most of what I thought it probably would. And in terms of the structure of Government I am surprised about her recommendations and her observations. There are some important areas that we need to get on with and to grapple with. They are the issues of delegation and the issues of training. They are short words but actually there is a lot behind them in terms of how to delegate authority back down to competent levels in the Government and to get around some of the bureaucratic over-lays that we have is quite a task as is putting together minutes and training programmes and properly funding them, not only for the public service.
I was horrified to hear the other day that the training funds had been denied to a quasi-private sector organisation for an essential piece of training on the grounds that it was a requirement. How bizarre is that? Most training, I think, is a requirement and we need to properly fund training both in the public sector and in the private sector.
And I think the review of Government also gives us as MLAs the opportunity to reflect on how we do our work. Weíve been reflecting on how the public service does its work. I think there is adequate scope for us to reflect on the way that we organise ourselves and we do our work. That is not to be critical of this Government. We have the same reflection in the previous government. I am not necessarily certain we got it right. But I donít think we are as well organised as a group as we ought to be and I think we need to reflect with an open mind about that and think about what is best for the Falklands Ė not whatís best for us individually Ė not who wants to be the boss, who wants to be the leader, who wants to have lots to say Ė itís about whatís best for the Falklands and what works best with the structure that weíve put in place for the public service. I think thatís an important piece of work for us to do also.
A couple of other brief observations: in terms of Argentina and whatís happened in the last month, I thoroughly agree with the Honourable Sharon Halford and congratulate the Argentine Government on giving us the opportunity to get our message out around the world. I think collectively the Falklands have done a splendid job and responded to the tasks that were put in front of us.
What do we need to do to get our message out there? We need to tell the truth and tell it consistently. I think that will compare and contrast starkly with what happens elsewhere and that can only be to our benefit.
We need to concentrate on the principles. We donít need to argue about history although I believe as I think all Members do that actually history is on our side and if we need to get that information out to the media and to others then we should do so but we need to concentrate on the principles. And the real principles are that we as a population and as a people have the right under the UN Charter to self-determination and thatís what we focus on. There was a famous comment in 1982 about two bald men fighting over a comb. Well, we are the comb. Never mind the bald men. They donít matter. Itís the comb that matters; itís what we think that matters and that should be our consistent message.
As long as we work within the law Ė that is if our own law and international law Ė I think we will always triumph. The international law in this case supports us. Our own domestic law, I think, also supports us in the way that we deal with visitors coming here. We had some interesting discussions the other day with officials about how to control and make sure the people in the Falklands are not intimidated by visitors. I think thatís an important issue but we must always work within the law.
So I will finish with that. I would like to thank as others have, everybody who has contributed to the information flow, to media around the world about the Falklands and we are getting the message out there. There remains an awful lot more to do. This month is not the end of the issue. It will go on for the rest of this year and it will go on next year and the year after. So our long-term plans on how we deal with that are going to be critically important.
I support the Motion.