Falklands : Legislative Assembly 27 march 2014 Motions
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 21.04.2014 (Article Archived on 19.05.2014)
That this House recommends the adoption of the Draft Islandsí Plan 2014 to 2018
Motion Number 6 of 2014 by the Honourable Michael Poole
That this House recommends the adoption of the Draft Islandsí Plan 2014 to 2018
MP: Thank-you Mr Speaker. Honourable Members, I have the great privilege of introducing this Motion today really on behalf of the Assembly as a whole and members of the Public will really be familiar with the Islandsí Plan and the concept behind it. However, I will just take a few moments to talk through its role generally and the process that was adopted in producing this draft that we are looking at today.
The Islandsí plan was first produced in 2002. It has continued in one form or another since then and has now spanned four different Governments by my count.
This Government, I think, has been one of the quickest in getting a draft to this stage and bringing it somewhat early in our term, which I think is to everybodyís credit. And I would like to thank the Honourable Chief Executive and the Directors and the Head of Policy in particular for the hard work thatís gone into achieving that.
This draft document is a culmination of over 4 monthsí work between Members and the Civil Service. Whilst previous versions of the Plan were perhaps focused on an external audience, this document is much more domestically focused, itís really a kind of manifesto for this Government so our local constituents can see where we plan to achieve over the next 4 years and can hold us to account if we donít Ė is the theory behind it.
We made a very conscious decision that this draft is a combined vision for the Islands but also has some practical detail in there as well.
The draft was produced based on individual Membersí manifestos during the election process and was also combined with the policy priorities of the civil servants themselves so therefore itís a very collaborative process and it naturally includes a degree of compromise and looking at how we can combine a longer-term vision into some practical details that may not be visionary enough to some but may not be practical enough for others. I think it strikes a good balance between the two. It certainly helps to give us a good sense of direction and gives the civil servants a good idea about what this government and this Assembly is about.
The document itself once formally adopted will be made to look very much prettier and much more readable. The draft currently contains 19 pages with 10 different sections.
I wonít list them all here but I will summarise very briefly the key changes from the previous version of the plan. Those cover 4 main areas:
1. The section on the Government Budget has been removed because more emphasis is given to economic development in this plan. The section on the budget has been changed slightly
2. A specific section on infrastructure development has been included which is clearly a priority over the next 4 years
3. I am personally pleased to see a section on community and cultural development focusing on our commitment to have an equal society and our national heritage is protected
4. A separate section on the environment has been included showing our commitment to sustainable environmental practices within the Islands.#
I think it is only right that I note that MLAs have discussed this draft in some depth twice already which was done privately within Gilbert House because it would have been impractical to build such a document in its entirety within the Assembly itself.
It is our document in this Assembly and I think it is right we have input to it before it got to this stage. No public consultation has occurred to date because we were elected to lead and this is a culmination of us trying to do that.
Today, however, I do hope that you will hear some debate on why some things were included, why some things were excluded and really get to hear individual membersí views on this document as a whole.
I think as a good way to end this brief introduction by reading a section from the foreword to the Islandsí Plan which says: None of us underestimate the challenges that lie ahead. We know that we will have to make difficult decisions but we are all committed to an ambitious programme that will deliver high quality services and a secure economic future for the Islands.
We may differ on a number of practical details and our interpretation of some priorities may be very different amongst the 8 Members. I think this document clearly outlines our general vision for the Islands.
Thank-you Mr Speaker. I propose the Motion.
The Motion was seconded by the Honourable Jan Cheek
JC: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I am very happy to second this Motion and hope that in due course Executive Council will approve the adoption of this draft plan.
I, too, would like to thank Jamie Fotheringham and the Policy Staff and the Directors for the work they have done on it. I am also indebted to our work placement student, Byron Stuart-Reid, for some useful comment on the draft plan, in particular his timely reminder of potential threats to our environment. I hope that he and others will be reassured that we on the Minerals Committee, the Environment Committee and Government as a whole have safety and the highest standards of environmental regulation at the centre of all our planning.
But I would also like to quote Byron in full on what he says about our Health and Safety section.
In terms of safety I think that, much like in Brasil, we should have zero tolerance for drunk driving as itís a major problem in our Islands. I also recon the placing of speed cameras at major accident points along the MPA Road would reduce the number of speeders and reckless drivers and thus reduce the number of accidents.
He is obviously a man after my own heart. He says: I also believe cigarette and alcohol taxes should be increased. Moreover, I see under-aged smokers openly smoking around the town. This is wrong, highly unhealthy and I think stricter rules should be set for under-age smokers.
He also agrees with the plan to keep improving the local Defence Force and, he says, I also see it as very important to continue implementing updated and modern plans for the safeguarding of children.
I am sure we can all agree with that.
I can also understand the unease that people Ė and it is reflected in Byronís report Ė unease that people may feel regarding the extra immigration that may occur. And that is why we want to be sure our immigration is tweaked to ensure that it serves the needs of the Islands without putting our way of life at risk.
I am happy with the fact that the new Islandsí Plan does look at things like quality of life and the culture in the Islands. But our challenge will be the delivery of that plan in the next few years.
And finally, the previous Island Plan in a small booklet format went down extremely well at party conferences and other overseas visits that we did. I believe that this document is sufficiently concise that we can do something similar. And I have had nothing but favourable comments from people on what we used to produce before and I am sure this fuller plan will have the same effect.
I am happy to support the Motion.
GS: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, in rising to support the Motion for the Islandsí Plan, I actually do have a slightly jaundiced view on the Islandsí Plan. Having sat through months and months of Islandsí Planning in the last Assembly, the will to live did leave me on some occasions. It was time I knew I simply wasnít going to get back and I started wondering how on earth we would get from 1833 until the first half of the Plan. We did, we survived, without it. However, it is a good thing to have a laid-down vision of what Ė the way we want to go Ė certainly during the life of this Assembly. I think it is probably through the suffering in the last Assembly that we managed to do it so quickly this time.
I would like to pick up on a couple of points if I may. Roads are one, of course, and itís almost a throw-away line under infrastructure in the Islandsí Plan and that is to improve the quality of our new road network through on-going capital works programme. But really that does capture everything. I think that is our intention Ė where we can, we must properly invest more than we already have been investing in trying to do further works on rural roads even if investing a little money means we stand still rather than going backwards at high speed as we are.
Immigration is a bit of a prickly issue Ė I agree. I am still slightly bothered that I donít think anywhere in here there is the phrase that I love which is ďto protect the resident population.Ē Surely this must be the basis of any immigration system.
Apart from that the only other thing that I would welcome, which has been included in here is the section on population and workforce. And it says in here that we will insure that our employment laws are flexible and fair and prevents the exploitation of workers in the Falkland Islands. And it is something that I want to see come through this House during this term.
Itís not a complete re-write and review of the Workersí Protection Ordinance, which I think now should go further than it did in the past and include certainly statutory sick pay and leave entitlement that I know quite a few of the lower paid do not get any more.
So on the whole, I do support the Motion and look forward to seeing the glossy booklet when it comes out.
RE: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, in rising to support this Motion No 6 on the Islandsí Plan, I, too, accept that we have very many challenges ahead. And over the years I have seen the plan change many times. I recognise the plan is only a basis for change anyway and I think we do need to change. We do need to continually look at the plan and make sure it is fit for purpose at any one time.
And I do agree with my Honourable Colleague on my right Ė Gavin Short Ė I think that roads and more importantly camp tracks are deteriorating and far more investment is required if we are to see them being brought up to any way being in a safe and better state than they are currently.
I support the Motion.
MS: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, the Honourable Michael Poole is correct to observe that the Islandsí Plan has gone through a number of iterations in its life-time. In fact, the idea of Islands Planning was first introduced in this House by myself in 1996 when I was first elected. It took quite some time before the first Islandsí Plan appeared but it did set the basis for some more formal business planning in Departments of the Government. Alluding to my Colleagueís scepticism to the whole idea of planning, I think I have actually seen much better ways of working in Government Departments as a direct result of it. So I commend the process.
What the Islandsí Plan should actually look like has been the subject of a huge amount of debate over the last several years. And it depends of course what you want to use if for. If you want to use it as a public diplomacy document itís one thing; if you want it to guide government, perhaps another; if you want to use a manifesto for the Assembly, having come together as eight individual Members, then thatís another thing as well. And I think what we have done with the Islandsí Plan is very much the later. But what we have tried to do is to collect together the aspirations of all members and create a collective manifesto for the light of this Government. And I think thatís a good thing. Itís now going to go to Executive Council if itís agreed here and then it will become Government Policy. So it will be the over-riding policy for the rest of this Government. I think in that context it has a real purpose.
I would just like to touch on a couple of issues that affect my portfolios directly.
Health and Social Care is important in the Falklands and weíve all made much of it over time. And there were regular and lengthy debates in the collection in the Islandsí Plan about how many time we put in Ė whether we can afford to do it Ė because that condition is almost all of the aspirations we have; and none more so than Health and Social Care. We are in a position now where the Health and Social Services budget Ė approximately 20% of the national budget Ė we are in a position where Medical Treatment Overseas Budget is approaching 20% of the Health and Medical Services budget Ė 4% of the national budget. Thatís a real challenge.
Itís going to be a huge challenge for members in the Budget Sessions going forward and itís going to be a huge challenge for the next several years. And I just take that as an example not because itís not something we should be doing, but something we have to keep a close eye on and working out for ourselves how we are going to integrate that process for the best benefit of the whole community.
There are some other issues in the health and Social Care section which I very much welcome, particularly the plans for the needs of the elderly and we are looking forward to the construction of a facility outside of the hospital environment. Members heard this week Ė yesterday Ė possibly the day before the first framework, if you like, of the vulnerable personsí strategy providing a framework for people in all phases of life in the Falklands and that will be a key piece of work not just this year Ė not just writing it down on a piece of paper but taking it into your mind and having it as a philosophy of life, if you like, in terms of how we care for our community Ė how we care for vulnerable people.
Thatís a phrase I have used in the past about the Rural Development Strategy. Strategies are not just things written on pieces of paper. Strategies are states of mind about the way that you approach things and thatís really important in this overall document.
I will say no more about Health and Social Services but I will have a quick word on safety and security. It has been my duty and I am very pleased to be able to chair the Assembly for the first quarter of this year. And have the theme of the protection of children. Safeguarding children was the theme for this first quarter. We have achieved a significant amount of work in this time.
We received the first draft of the Safeguarding Children Bill and conducted two sessions of a Select Committee on the Bill. There will be one more after which it will be ready for the Assembly so that is a good piece of work. There is also some very good work going on in the Safeguarding Group about providing more and better information to everybody in the community on safeguarding of children. Itís been approached in a methodical and planned way. I would like to have seen some of it come forward rather more quickly but I defer to the experts on the need to make sure that when we do set out the educational programme, if you like, for the safety of children that we do it in a proper and a more structured and informed manner.
So overall, Mr Speaker, Colleagues, I have always been a supporter of the Islandsí Plan. It has a real value in a number of ways and I think the way we have approached it in this Assembly is of real value. It is effectively the manifesto of this Government and I therefore support the Motion.
BE: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, in rising to support the Motion I, too, would like to welcome the fact that we have this draft document. Itís not overly long; itís easy to read and I hope members of the public will actually take the time and the trouble to do so.
Itís also useful for members because I think it keeps on track. Itís all too easy, I think, over the years to get side tracked into a different avenue and itís good to have a document to look back on saying it is the area we thought we were going on this subject.
Because people in the community wonít have read this document yet so I hope you bear with me while I just pick up on a couple of points. And under the one of Self-determination and Good Governance it says we agree and implement new ways of consulting with and sharing information with the community to ensure greater transparency of and community involvement in policy development and decision making.
And thatís something we all want. Itís something we all agree with that itís not down to the MLAs to make the decisions in private. We are committed to making sure that the public are involved in the decisions that we have to face or make. And there are some very difficult decisions coming up. There are many capital programmes we need to undertake be that a new school, be that an old personsí Home, a new power station Ė tarmacking the MPA Road even Ė need us to say there isnít enough money to do all of those things and so we are going to need to prioritise that.
Members will have their own views but we are also committed to asking members of the public what their views are. And if you want one thing done, what else are you going to sacrifice? So we will be taking that process forward as time goes on.
The other point I would like to touch on is that of Education. Again, itís my portfolio but I think itís worth reading out the heading that we start with and our vision of education and training for the next few years at least. We will provide high quality, accessible education and training opportunities to support the life-long learning aspirations and ambitions of the whole community. We must prepare our young people with jobs and careers that may not even exist yet.
And the point I would like to pick out there is the life-long learning that education isnít just up to the age of 18 or to 21 when you do a degree Ė it is life-long. Now as this community changes and as this community develops there will be a growing need for people in their 30s perhaps who want to make a career change and we have to come up with new ways of making that happen without having to take the whole family to the United Kingdom or another country to undertake that training. So we could see more use of the Training Centre Ė the Training Centre being developed in a way that it is not used at the moment to enable people to change that career if they so wish.
And of course that refers to the whole community as my Honourable Colleague, Mike Summers has said. Camp is a very important part of this and itís even more difficult for people in Camp who wish to take extra qualifications to do that in Camp. So we have to change the way that we use the internet. We have to do different ways to enable people in remote settlements to have the same opportunities of developing as people in Stanley would.
And finally I would just like to touch on Health and Education. I have a role in that and perhaps if I read out the bullet points Ė is to place renewed emphasis on health prevention and promote healthy and happy lifestyles to reduce the requirements for costly treatments at home and overseas in the long-term. And my Honourable Colleague has touched on that already.
There is an exponential growth in the amount of money we spend to send people overseas for treatment and you must remember that by the time we send someone overseas they are ill and we are spending a huge amount of money on the Medical Treatment Overseas budget. At the moment thatís essential but if we are going to reduce that in the long-term, we have to invest in health prevention (I think he means ill-health prevention).
As my Honourable Colleague says, health takes 20% of the national budget. Of that health budget, 20% goes on sending people overseas when they are ill. We spend approximately 3% at the moment on (ill) health prevention and we need to change that. We need to make sure that we spend more money Ė invest more money in preventing illness in the first place.
And I would like to finally just again mention the Vulnerable Persons Strategy. During the election campaign many people were concerned about how we provide for people who have special needs in education and/or special needs in their abilities to find work or to live an independent life. I am very pleased to see that the Director of Health has brought forward the first stage in our Vulnerable Personsí Strategy and that came to Members just a few days ago. Itís been a long time in development. Itís a very difficult subject but I think that is vitally important that we take that forward because it is the future of our Islands. We canít ignore people with problems at the moment. We need to invest heavily if we are to give them the same opportunities as we all have.
Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.
Summary by the Honourable Mr Michael Poole, MLA
Thank you Mr Speaker. Firstly I would like to thank my honourable colleagues for their comments. I think as we can see and quitter naturally with a document of this nature it is deliberately quite high-level whether it is talking about roads; whether it is talking about the Vulnerable Personsí Strategy, infrastructure development or any number of areas is a matter of interpretation including that we have a vision that we want to complete any number of pieces of work over the next 4 years. What that detail will look like will clearly be defined over the coming months and years.
Going back to the Honourable Gavin Shortís comments regarding protection for the workforce and local community, generally I think that does exist in the document and the population workforce section does refer to insuring that there is both an opportunity for local people to sustain work and also paring that with greater encouragement for overseas workers to make the Falkland islands their home and to build a life here. So as an assembly we are committed to what my honourable colleague has described.
As the Honourable Barry Elsby says I hope people can take a look at this document and read into it what they will and hopefully come and talk to us about it. We have constituency surgeries on Thursday evenings. Please drop-in and talk to us about the detail and we can further define what average it is.
Thank you Mr Speaker.
KB: Honourable Members the Motion before this House is: That this House recommends the adoption of the Draft Islandsí Plan 2014 to 2018. Is there any objection to passing that Motion?
There was no objection and the Motion passed.
Motion Number 7 of 2014 by the Honourable Michael Poole
That This House approves the Stanley Common Megabid Spoil Tip regulations in accordance with Section 10 of the Stanley Commons Ordinance.
MP: Thank you Mr Speaker, Honourable Members. I apologise for talking so much today but itís just that these two issues fall within my portfolio and I think itís appropriate that I introduce them both.
This Motion is being put forward so that members can comment on this regulation if they so wish and hopefully approve iit today following necessary comment and debate. The work leading up to this Motion began some time back with Executive Council approving the Policy principle in August of last year. Itís only now coming to the Assembly because of the workload within the Attorney Generalís Chambers.
As many will be aware, as it stands today, spoil from a variety of worksites is currently dumped at a site behind Marry Hill Quarry. This site is now becoming over-loaded and it also sits in the middle of a key nature site as well so therefore we thought it appropriate that we move this dumping site to a new area thatís been designated to the south of Megabid. There is a natural valley there that can hold quite a number of tonnes of spoil dumping so thatís been identified as the site.
Dumping at the new site will be at the discretion of the Director of Public Works and people will only be able to dump there once they have received that appropriate approval.
If this Motion is supported today then the new site will become active from the publication of this regulation in the Gazette which hopefully will happen on Monday as soon as we receive the approvals today.
Finally, I was contacted by a constituent a few days back who asked the question as to whether marine debris could be dumped at this new designated site. The answer to that is yes it can. It is not envisaged that will be done in any large quantity and it will be assessed on a case by case basis. But as soon as the Director of Public Works and the Environmental Planning Officer are comfortable with that happening it can occur if necessary.
I would like to finish by thanking the Attorney Generalís Chambers for ensuring that this Motion was brought forward today.
Thank you Mr Speaker, I support (propose) the Motion.
The Motion was seconded by the Honourable Jan Cheek
JC: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I am equally happy to second this Motion and I would like to thank the Honourable Michael Poole for driving this forward and of course the Attorney Generalís Department for producing the regulation.
There had been, as the Honourable Michael Poole has said, real problems with spoil disposal and this less sensitive area of Stanley Common was identified some months ago. I welcome the fact that hopefully today we can accept the regulations to permit its use. I hope these regulations will ensure that its use will not impinge too much on peopleís enjoyment of the Common as a whole because the Common belongs to all of us.
I support the Motion.
PR: Mr Speaker I support this Motion and I am delighted to see this piece of legislation here today considering it was requested or it was approved by Executive Council last August. Spoil dumping has continued on the peninsula since then. And I have had a lot of representations from the public who believe that all the wildflowers and so-on have been smothered in that area and itís taken an inordinate amount of time to get this piece of work here. But now I am really grateful to the Attorney Generalís Chambers and particularly the Clerk of the legislative Assembly for making sure we were able to bring it to this Legislative Assembly and not next monthsí legislative Assembly.
The whole issue of waste management and disposal is quite a massive one for us and we must start to get realistic about it and address it firmly.
I was the author of a report on the dumping of waste in Marry Hill Quarry together with Adam Cockwell and I am looking forward to seeing some of the recommendations we put in that report way back in November last year actually being taken forward. And it does concern me that we as legislators and policy makers make these policies but it doesnít seem the actions are taken very quickly. And I do hope in the coming months that we can see much more speedy reactions to some of these policy recommendations.
I support the Motion.
BE: Mr speaker, Honourable members, In rising to support the Motion I think I would just like to clarify people in the community might think there is going to be a massive mound like a big slag heap sitting behind Megabid. Thatís not the case. This area was well-chosen. The idea is that it is going to be filled in and be landscaped and at the end of the day it might actually have a better appearance than what is at the moment a poor area of the Common. So it is going to be treated sensitively and it is not going to be left to look like a dump.
GS: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I actually support this Motion very strongly. First I guess it comes in my direction as my portfolio is Public Works if it passes through the House today. And itís come just in the nick of time for us because we are about to kick off on some pretty major works down at the east end of town. And it will be good to have this spoil dump which will cut down the wear and tear on trucks having to go to Marry Hill and also the wear and tear on the road system itself. It is nice and close so it should cut down costs on contractors who do the work.
I do take exception somewhat to the statement that as part of public works we go about smothering local flowers. If we have it was certainly inadvertent and I know as it was done by Marry Hill when it was brought to our attention some time ago it was thought that we were indeed dumping on top of some sort of flower we stopped immediately and a survey was done with environmentalists. And I think we found we were some way off whatever this plant was that we thought we were attacking. But of course down the east end of the peninsula the ground we are covering of course was not a natural occurrence.
That ground which looked like a lunar landscape was actually the result of a camp fire down there many, many years ago. And I think actually the job that PWD have done in trying to landscape what has been dumped down there is actually a very good one. And I think in the years to come once it greens over it will actually look very, very good.
Thatís it, though. I am happy that hopefully this passes the House today we will have somewhere to dump spoil that should be hopefully a lot less controversial. So I thank you.
Summary by the Honourable Mr Michael Poole, MLA
MP: thank you Mr Speaker. Just very quickly I would like to thank the Honourable Dr Barry Elsby for making it clear that it will be Ė this new dump site will be treated as sensitive as possible and will be landscaped to make it look as good as can be for a site of this nature.
It has been said that it still sits within the Common and the natural nature reserve that is the Common. Itís just hopefully a less sensitive site than the current one.
And any impact on the natural environment will be rectified as best it can.
Thank you Mr Speaker.
KB: Honourable members, the Motion before this House is: That This House approves the Stanley Common Megabid Spoil Tip regulations in accordance with Section 10 of the Stanley Commons Ordinance.
There was no objection and the Motion was therefore passed.
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