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Falklands : LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 28 May 2010 The Hon Mr Bill Luxton
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 03.06.2010 (Article Archived on 17.06.2010)

Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I think it is probably a relief to everyone Ė Officials and Elected Members alike Ė that this marathon budget session is concluded. And I think we all owe a vote of thanks to Treasury staff in particular and the Financial Secretary, as I prefer to think of him.

The Hon Mr Bill Luxton:


Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I think it is probably a relief to everyone Ė Officials and Elected Members alike Ė that this marathon budget session is concluded.  And I think we all owe a vote of thanks to Treasury staff in particular and the Financial Secretary, as I prefer to think of him.


Because itís our first as a group and because, I guess, a lot of the work had been done before November, we more or less had to start from scratch and there was a lot of new stuff to learn for those who had been here before as well as first timers.  Also we were determined to reduce the deficit we inherited and that has been successful, even if we are not any more seen as the nice guys.


Everyone will feel a bit of a pinch but we can thank our lucky stars that it wonít be as bad as some countries.  But I think the belt tightening may be such that the belly button is getting close to the backbone in some cases.  At least our Civil Servants have not had to take a 10% pay cut as in one other country.  One country, you can be sure wonít go bankrupt; not with our present level of reserves.    I am sure there will be cases where we have not got it quite right and some effects we didnít anticipate.  I am also sure that reasonable cases will get a fair hearing.


I am very pleased that this Assembly has given its full support to the Rural Development Strategy; and its first vital need for the community and thatís FIMCO.  The determination to support FIMCO should encourage farmers to commit themselves to the production of lambs and mutton sheep.  And this commitment is vital if the project is to succeed.  So I urge all farms and the farmers to get stuck into this and do a bit.  There are some excellent examples already to follow and hopefully when those who are hanging back look over the fence and see someone is making serious money, they will follow suit.  I was hugely impressed by all those at the meeting between Councillors and the Livestock Suppliersí Group.  And they did a good job of persuading some members that were doubtful.  I think they all put the case in a very coherent manner.


There is work to do on the Abattoir extension to bring down the ridiculous costs pulled out of the thin air by PWD and Morrisonís but fortunately we do have people about with some experience in the commercial sector who know what they are talking about; and are confident at the end that they will get value for money.


In addition the RBS will initially concentrate on the development of a small number of settlements.  And this will be led by an RBS Co-ordinator who, it is hoped, will be appointed shortly; and consultations with Camp residents will soon start again.


Last year when I left the Falklands the radio and TV services were on the point of collapse; and soon after that they did.  I donít think anyone who weíve got out there will appreciate the sense of being isolated and ignored that this caused, especially for the long winter nights.  So itís great to see that TV and Radio via the satellite system is being restored and the quality is excellent and will do a lot to restore morale; and I think thanks are due to all who were involved and who are doing such a good job.  I believe on one occasion the team arrived and put in the satellite were told they were the best thing to arrive since the Task Force.  The restoration of the new FM radio system is being planned as a matter of urgency.  Meanwhile, Mount Mariah is transmitting well.


Itís a pity the same canít be said for Cable & Wireless, who continue to act with their customary total arrogance.  Yesterday in Stanley the whole system was off and on all day and was so slow at times when on as to be unusable.  We continue to hear stories of people receiving outrageous charges and there seems to be nothing they can do.  How can you have any faith in a system that purports to measure your usage then changes it as they feel inclined, for days afterwards?  Sometimes they even show you being charged for the same day twice for a while.  I was last week.  Then one day vanishes Ė what a shambles.  Cable & Wireless should be aware, if they are not already, of the determination in this Assembly to have a system that is suitable for the modern needs in the Falklands.  Their attitude is typified by the fact that I used to operate my own V-Sat system but Cable & Wireless leaned on the supplier so as to make it unusable.  I believe I am not the only one to get this treatment.  They cannot be allowed to act as a total drag on the Islandsí communications.


As for other communications, it is a hard fact that we simply donít have funds to maintain our roads system as we would wish to.  A degree of prioritisation will have to occur and some people will not be happy with the outcome.  I do believe there is room for some sort of self-help scheme if an arrangement could be made to allow use of machinery by suitably qualified people in their own areas at times when the main gangs have been stood down. 


The review of FIGAS is almost complete and I very much hope the result will be a bit more service and that they will respond to the needs and wishes of its customers in a better light.  Certainly every used has had the opportunity to express their views and all those views have been taken into account.


Concordia Bay continues to operate with reasonable success and I hope that the new all singing, all dancing terminal at Port Howard will reduce the number of weather related delays.  However, we really do need to look at the costs of such projects.  The Honourable Roger Edwards often says that if PWD/Morrisonís quote a price for anything, itís always £1Million and I fear heís not far from the truth here. 


Our immigration policy also needs an urgent review.  Weíve all heard cases of people who would be and are a great asset to our own have been refused while others who are of doubtful value to the community get in.  I hope this can be addressed soon.


There is also an on-going shortage of housing, especially for first-time buyers; and this Assembly has some ideas about improving the situation.


We should not forget the Camp, either.  At the moment there is no assistance if people want to build in Camp.  And when you look at the level of subsidy on some Stanley Plots, I think we should look at this and give every encouragement to young people who want to build outside the town.


Mr Speaker, I canít finish without mentioning our neighbours who seem to be hopping up and down in rage like a bunch of demented Kangaroos with the possible good news of our offshore drilling areas.  Itís good to know that the new British Government has been so robust in defending our freedom to live under a Government of our own choosing. 


I look forward to hearing the details of the Honourable Emma Edwardsí trip to the C-24 meeting.  And I wish her and the Honourable Gavin Short well in their visit to the United Nations soon.  I know they are going to deliver a very strong defence of our freedom and express forcefully our total lack of desire to become an Argentine colony.


Mr Speaker, as I said in my pre-election speeches, I will shortly be heading north for the rest of the winter and I would like to remind my constituents that I am always available by e-mail.  My e-mail address is in the phone book and I am happy to give my Skype address to anyone who wants to chat about anything.  I also intend to keep well up to date with events by the Gilbert House e-mail.  And in case anyone wonders, I will not be drawing any remuneration, of course, while I am away.


Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.


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