Falklands : LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 26 JUNE 2014 Motion for Adjournment Speeches
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 26.06.2014 (Article Archived on 16.08.2014)
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I will be brief. I would like to associate myself with the comments made by the Honourable Michael Poole in regards to Armed Forces Day.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 26 JUNE 2014
Motion for Adjournment Speeches
BE: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I will be brief. I would like to associate myself with the comments made by the Honourable Michael Poole in regards to Armed Forces Day. I think that was set up in the UK to make people more aware of the debt they owe to the Forces. Falkland Islanders do not need any reminding of the debt of gratitude they owe to her Majesty’s Forces but it will be good to see the Armed Forces Flag flying alongside our own flag on victory green.
The only other point I would like to bring up is to say good-bye to Rebecca Roxborough who has been our early years’ co-ordinator for some months now. She leaves the Islands next week. In the time she has been here she has made tremendous strides in developing the early years mainly focusing around the nurseries in our community and she so inspired all those nurseries to develop the service they offer, to take on extra training and I wish her well in her future. We are presently looking for a replacement and I hope we will be able to find someone locally because I wouldn’t wish to see the tremendous strides that have been made under her guidance to be lost.
Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.
MP: Thank you Mr Speaker. It has been a long morning so I just have one item. Actually it is a privilege to end with this. As people will be aware, it is Armed Forces Day this coming Saturday the 28th of June. Both as a Government and as a community, clearly we are very grateful for the work the Armed Forces do here in the Islands and the sacrifices they have made on our behalf in the past. It is a good time of the year to reinforce and restate that though it goes without saying much of the year.
I would also like to thank the local Falkland Islands Defence Force for the work they do across a number of parts of the Government. It is a service we are proud of especially because so much of it is done on a volunteer basis.
As a Military Representative in the House here today I wonder if we can ask Group Captain Taylor to please take the formal thanks of the Assembly to his team at MPA and pass that on. It may not feel like there is a great partnership between us when we just put you through all this but there certainly is and, just as a small token of that, we intend to fly the Armed Forces Flag alongside the Falkland Islands Government Flag this coming Saturday.
Thank you Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.
PR: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I, too, will be fairly brief after that long session. I just wanted to talk about something the Honourable Michael Poole and I were engaged in last week. We both attended the 63rd Westminster Seminar in London and it was an extremely informative event and it was very interesting to learn about the workings of Westminster. Our Colleagues advised us to go along as newly elected Members. I think it was very worthwhile. We met our Minister Hugo Swire briefly, who addressed one of the presentations. And amongst numerous MPs it was very good to meet Neil Evans, MP, the Deputy Speaker. He has visited the Falklands three times and I think he would very much like to visit again.
We were also introduced to members of the House of Lords and their support is very much with us and we are grateful for that. It was also a good opportunity because there are eighty people attending that Seminar, from Commonwealth Countries. It gave us an opportunity to speak with members from all of those countries and to hear their issues and concerns in their countries and for us to get across the matters that we have to address here in a small and remote location.
I was particularly impressed by the way MPs conduct themselves and how engaged and passionate they are about their subject matter. And they are very firm in putting across their points of view. But having done that, they still retain extremely good relationships across parties so it was very impressive to see that in practice.
The Honourable Michael Poole and I met with a group of young people who have formed an association called: Friends of the British Overseas Territories. I gave a presentation to them on the Falkland Islands’ economy and we were inundated with questions. It was quite late after a long day at Westminster but it was well worth doing and these young people, average age of 22, will inevitably become opinion formers and influential in their future careers so it was worth engaging with them.
The Budget for 2014/15 is behind us and those decisions have been made and I am really looking forward to seeing progress made on the decisions we made two weeks ago, particularly in the recruitment of new posts that will get the resources that some of those more stretched departments require so I hope there is good progress made with recruitment and also with the approved projects that we debated in Budget Select Committee.
It is a very ambitious Capital Programme indeed. There is just one item I would like to refer to is the Camp Road Building project. We saw a paper in Executive Council yesterday that will be made public and has been to the Transport Advisory Committee, outlining how the PWD has listened to the concerns of contractors and has looked for longer-term contracts for work ranging from 3 to 5 years. I think it is fantastic PWD has stepped up and looked at how we could extend the length of contracts so contractors can invest in machinery and the necessary equipment which I know costs hundreds and thousands of Pounds to do that work. And I also thank my Colleagues for supporting those funds in the budget. So I hope contractors will now look at those bids and tender for them because it will make a massive difference to the road network in the Camp if they do
And lastly I would just like to say that our missing Colleagues, MLA Summers and Edwards will be addressing the Committee of 24 at the UN in New York today and I wish them well in that meeting.
Thank you Mr Speaker.
JC: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, the Honourable Phyl Rendell referred to the fact that two of our Members are away today. So the Honourable Roger Edwards and the Honourable Mike Summers are speaking at the UN Committee of 24, probably almost as we speak now. And I thought it worth reiterating because it can be lost sight of why we continue attendance at what must appear to be an increasingly irrelevant forum. We made our choice during the referendum last year to remain in association in the UK as an overseas territory.
But if our elected representatives were not there, members of the Committee of 24 could only hear from the two – for want of a better word – stooges trotted out by the Argentine delegation as Falkland Islanders – one who may have never set foot in the Islands and the other who abandoned his family, including small children and his country 32 years ago – and, who incidentally, probably helped compile a list of 600 suspect Islanders with which the Argentine invasion forces arrived in 1982.
I believe we have to continue to give that Committee the opportunity to hear the truth and not to be exposed only to Argentine lies and distortion.
Furthermore, our elected representatives reinforce by their presence and by the fact that they are elected representatives our right to self-determination.
I support the Motion.
IH: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, in rising to support the Motion I, too, will be brief.
I would like to associate myself with the remarks made by the Honourable Barry Elsby when he introduced the Children Bill in thanking everybody who worked very hard in getting that Bill to this House today and in particular the Acting Attorney General who I know spent a huge amount of her own time on its preparation.
I also was going to mention briefly the UN Committee of 24. As usual there was a large Argentine delegation there which also as usual postured and delivered the age-old jargon they do year on year.
However, I am equally sure that the addresses given by our Colleagues the Honourable Mike Summers and the Honourable Roger Edwards are of the highest quality and that any intelligent neutral observer will recognise the Argentine delegation’s gibberish twaddle as just that.
I will briefly mention FM Radio. At the end of this Month all the systems should be in place. However, there will be a period of testing the new system and gap-filling will be undertaken where needed. There is no intention to leave anyone on the Islands without radio reception although there may be a time-slip in some areas. But I ask people to be patient while those gaps are filled.
Mr Speaker, as there isn’t another Assembly meeting until late August, I would like to take this opportunity to wish our team of athletes who are travelling to Glasgow all the best of luck. They will be great ambassadors for the Falklands as usual and I am sure we all wish them well.
On another sporting event, the World Cup, many people have said to me how grateful they are that KTV at some expense have been putting some of the matches on live. And several people have asked me to mention it in this House today and as an avid football fan I have no problem with that at all.
And finally I would like to welcome Group Captain Taylor to this House for the first time and apologise on behalf of the Assembly for the length of the meeting.
Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.
GS: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, in rising to speak to and support the Motion for Adjournment, I would like to touch on some matters that are pretty largely PWD based to begin with. But before I launch into that I would like to thank my Colleague Dr Barry Elsby for his rather splendid and Herculean efforts in presenting the report from the sub-committee – or the Select Committee on the Children’s Bill. It was quite something. And thanks goes to our Acting Attorney General, Ros and everybody else for a job well done and the place wasn’t lost all the way through.
As I said in this House before this budget is going to put a lot of work in the direction of the Public Works Department – although the budget hasn’t yet kicked in and we haven’t got our hands on the dosh yet work has already started in planning how we are going to progress with some of the projects. Such as the track to Cape Pembroke, electricity generation and distribution in Stanley and the next loop on Sapper Hill and housing to name just some. It is going to put pressure on my staff but I know we will deliver.
Talking of putting pressure on staff, the recent leak of fuel into the drainage system in Stanley kept the lads quite busy for a few days and I am happy to report that it was eventually tracked down to a leaking pipe between a person’s fuel tank and boiler. I would like to thank all those people who were involved in this. It wasn’t just the PWD. I know there was also staff from the Fire Brigade who flushed out the system. And being a recipient of those rather splendid Kerosene smells that went wafting everywhere, I am very thankful that the leak was eventually tracked down because us smokers face enough dangers without being singed or blown up to an already long list.
Every cloud as they say has a silver lining. And even this fuel leak has a positive side in that we were gazing up and down pipes with our cameras and we detected not just fuel or whatever else lurks down those pipes, but also two collapsed sewers. So we are off to rectify them and that will save us from chasing another problem further down the line.
I tend to like getting out there and seeing things for myself and so it was on Wednesday morning I spent a rather cold but illuminating half an hour on a street corner seeing how good or bad the traffic flow was in John Street at turn-to time. This followed subsequent appearances at school dropping off time and at lunchtime. I was actually quite heartened to see the welcome site of a WPC outside the school at quarter to nine, which most definitely helped the situation. And before the cynics out there say that the WPC was only in attendance because I was turning up and will not be seen again. I am happy to bust this myth as either they or anybody else knew that I would take it into my head to see for myself what was happening. As I sometimes do, I like doing my own thing without letting other folk know what I am up to as I tend to get the real picture that way.
I would like to publicly thank the police for their presence, which is needed as it is bedlam especially at school dropping off time and at dinnertime and I know that Willie, our Lollypop Man does a sterling job but he just can’t be everywhere at once and the presence of another person with the authority to stop and direct traffic plus shepherding children across the road was very much appreciated. To be honest, especially at drop-off times we could do with two Police Officers in attendance. I realise that they can’t be everywhere all the time as there are also some problems at the other side of the school at Pencil Lane plus outside the big school on Reservoir road where some people have taken to stopping on Reservoir Road to drop off their youngsters and this is causing traffic flow problems, not to mention the real possibility of the coming together of vehicles, especially if there is ice or snow about.
If I could make a choice I would rather see the youngsters being put on the crossings by the IJS as that is where the greater density of children is. At midday I suspect that anywhere between 75 and 100 vehicles pass the school intersection, which range from normal cars and Land-rovers through to a lorry. It mostly flowed well but I did see some people waiting in the Zebra Crossing, which means that children can’t cross and one or two others being aggressive in their driving styles. All this has been caused by the Ross Road works and I can once again plead with drivers to avoid John Street if they can. It may put another three minutes on your journey to use other roads but to me three or even 5 minutes is preferable to adding to the mayhem outside the IJS. And please bear in mind that winter is coming and eventually there will be ice and snow which will add to the dangers and mean that traffic will transit even more slowly – one hopes.
We did have in mind creating a one-way system to try and improve safety should it be needed. It was something that we were reluctant to introduce immediately preferring to wait and see if the drivers would re-route and the traffic flow would stay at a safe level. You can imagine my dismay when I mentioned this to somebody else on Wednesday only to be told that under our present Road Traffic Legislation that is not permitted. I had two people telling me quite different stories. One of them has to be correct and I shall jolly well find out where the truth may be.
If I find that we can’t introduce temporary one way systems when needed and should I find it is because present legislation is not where it should be, then I will be asking my fellow MLAs to put the updating of our road traffic legislation back on the “To do list” to give it some priority.
As I said, getting out there and seeing for myself was a good experience. I have returned from my foray mulling over a few things for example, the Zebra Crossings would seem to be too close to the corners and it probably would be safer to move them back and install barriers on the pavement so children escaping from the school cannot strike out on the road before they reach the Zebra crossing. Zebra crossings could do with streetlamps close by as it is quite gloomy there and it is hard to see children who may be wearing dark clothing. Some of the areas around the school are covered with bits of crushed rock and I watched children wobbling their ways across it. So I will ask PWD if we can black-top or cement that as it would be safer.
I admit I haven’t been around bits of my empire as I would have liked but now that the budget is out of the way I intend to do just that. It is my intention not only to see heads of departments but I also want to get out with the workforce and see what they are up to but I do want to do it in a way that I do not get in the way.
I fully want to associate myself with comments that have gone before about my two Colleagues who probably are in action at the C-24. I know that I and everybody else in the Falklands pass on best wishes to them. They are up against a pretty biased and dysfunctional committee but somebody needs to tell them like it is and I know they will.
Finally, before sitting down, I would like to deal with a matter that is extremely sensitive in the Falklands. Over the last few years we have seen an increased number of Argentines visiting our country. When they first came over they were very respectful and came to bury ghosts and pay respects to their fallen. As time has passed the tone of these visits and visitors has changed steadily and now we are seeing a lot of visitors pulling more and more nationalistic stunts and becoming bolder and more organised in the way they go about this. It is my belief that things have reached a point where we have to take some action and/or introduce measures to protect both our country and our people.
To people from outside it may seem hard to understand why these nationalists cause such distress both with their actions whilst in the Falklands but also what is posted on the web, either after they have left our country or in recent cases whilst still here. For those of us who were here when we were invaded the whole terrifying experience and the bleak hopelessness of the days that followed are as fresh in our minds now as it was at the time. Argentina has never dropped their claim – indeed have never declared an end to hostilities as far as I am aware. And past Ministers in their Governments have made bleak comments to the effect that if it were not for the protection afforded to us by Her Majesty’s Forces, we would be under Argentine control.
As we would never invite them back in that leaves only one option and that a military led invasion. Take also the comments from their government and their attempts to disrupt our economy and way of life in every which way they can, and also have a look to see what is put up on the web and you may start to see why when people who come in with an agenda that involves flag and banner-waving has the effect that it does on us. Doing nothing, in my opinion, is no longer an option. To this end I revisited a discussion paper that I put together which outlines the problems and puts forward some thoughts and actions that could be taken. For obvious reasons I am not going to advertise what my proposals are on this matter but will be presenting it to my colleagues once we have all – or nearly all of them back in the Falklands. What I am suggesting may not be able to curb this nationalistic behaviour but I hope it sparks a discussion that will lead to an acceptable solution. Be sure though that whatever is decided there will be an almighty back-up from across the water. But I for one am not willing to sit back for fear of what a larger and aggressive neighbour might do to us and allow this behaviour to carry on and grow. I have a real worry that things may be reaching a point whereby we are going to have an incident and it would be wholly unacceptable that due to our inaction it is an Islander that is before the judicial system for becoming incensed and taking action. We must do something.
Finally, Mr Speaker, there was a very fine piece published on FORBES.com which I will recommend to everyone. It was about the banner which the Argentine National team displayed in a friendly match just before the FIFA World Cup. This was officially backed by the Argentine Government. The article contains some passages that I would like to read to you before sitting down – some passages that I wish I could have penned myself as it really does sum up what we are faced with.
“Let’s clear up this Falklands issue once and for all.
The dispute over these islands in the south Atlantic is not between Argentina and Great Britain, as so many people falsely report.
It is between Argentina and freedom.”
The piece then goes on to look at us – the Falkland Islanders and our referendum but ends thus:
“People who want to change the status of the islands, as members of the Argentine national football team do, are saying that the people of the Falkland Islands don’t count for anything. They should be stripped of the right of self-determination.
The way this issue is reported, you’d think the choice was between imposing a hostile British occupation on the people of the Falkland Islands or imposing a hostile Argentine occupation. Or you’d think this was a “morally neutral” dispute between two countries. Or you’d think this was like 1776, another case of a free people trying to break free of the imperial shackles of London.
It’s between imposing a hostile Argentine occupation on this free and independent people, or letting them remain free.
I will not use the “M” word in this House so I will translate this way: ‘Las Falklands son Argentinas,’ boasted the footballers.
The correct response is not, “Las Falklands son Britanicas” (“the Falkands are British”). It is, “Las Falklands son libres.” The Falklands are free.