LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT SPEECH BY SHARON HALFORD (20/12/2012)
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, in rising to support the motion for Adjournment I would like to take this opportunity to thank various people from within the Civil Service for their hard work and dedication. But before I get on to that, I will mention, as people are aware, I was recently in the UK attending the Joint Ministerial Council along with the Honourable Jan Cheek. Later in the week I also attended the service to rededicate the Memorial wood in Portsmouth and finally, I laid a wreath at the Cenotaph on the 8th of December. Both of these events were very well attended and it was pleasing to see the younger generation of Falkland Islanders at the later.
During the week in the UK we were able to meet and talk with many Ministers, all of whom were generally interested in the Falklands and very supportive of our right to determine our own future. And we also had first-hand evidence of just how hard many people in the UK are working on our behalf.
After meeting with the Prime Minister we were left in no doubt whatsoever of the genuine support and commitment the UK Government has towards the Falklands, for which we are very grateful. This latest trip North made me painfully aware that travel is not all that it is cracked up to be, as the flight was kicked off with a toothache that I could do nothing about. Something was definitely out of kilter and I didn’t have any enthusiasm for shopping. After my experience I was horrified to learn at a recent health and medical Services Committee that some people do not subscribe to dental checks for their children and others do not follow through with the recommended treatment.
I am the first to admit that a visit to the dentist is not my ideal day out but nevertheless always go for check-ups and treatment as toothache is not a desirable alternative. With the level of dentistry that is available to us today, I would urge one and all to try and keep their teeth in good order to avoid problems later on in life.
As the Hospital and Social Services Department fall under my portfolio, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank-you to all those people within the Social Services section who have been working under considerable pressure of late with more often than not a skeleton crew. They really have been stretched beyond their limits. I would also like to welcome the recent addition of staff to this department and hope that they now will be able to ease the workload somewhat.
The Hospital is a department with a large remit when it comes to tending to the health of the nation. And I often think that many of us do not appreciate the hard work that goes on there and delivered by a very good and dedicated team. This team is not all about Doctors and Nurses – essential as they may be but there are also many other people who work there in various trades and professions; and without whom the whole wheel would not keep turning.
We have experienced in getting our medical supplies to the Islands and probably the Pharmacy Staff has taken many complaints for this despite the matter being out-with their control. It is not acceptable that delay should happen in this chain of supply and I sincerely hope that the issues have now been resolved.
I would like to publically thank all the staff in the hospital for their continued efforts to make the place run as smoothly as possible and hope that the Christmas period will not be overly busy for them. It is pleasing to note that Doctor Rowland will be taking up the post of Senior Medical officer in the New Year and disappointing on the other hand that we will be losing our Hospital manager, Michael Poole, who has been an asset to the Department and will be leaving behind hard shoes to fill. But I would like to wish him well when he takes up his new job in the private sector. And good luck for his further studies.
FIGAS is another of our service sectors; the staff of which also deserves a thank-you for their continued dedication and hard work in keeping the ageing fleet airworthy. Like many of our service sectors they are taken for granted and we do not generally appreciate the unsocial hours members of this department have to work.
I, and hopefully many others, am grateful to the Highways section for their continued efforts in keeping our road network up to speed – no pun intended. Sadly, we tend to hear more complaints than complements for the road network which most people make good use of. It is not that long ago that travel around the islands could take days rather than hours as it does now. I suspect that we will never get the roads to a spec that suits all as however much they are improved, someone will always want even more. And no matter what improvements are planned, there will always be someone who thinks that something else should be done instead. What a pity we cannot be enjoy what we have and look forward to continued improvement.
I’ve only touched on the departments which fall within my portfolio. But I am aware that there are many other departments around FIG that are understaffed and in some cases are running on good will. We cannot expect to carry on like this. Hopefully many of these issues will be addressed in the New Year.
Any successful business must have the means to recruit and fill vacancies as soon as possible and this is something that I hope FIG will be improving sooner rather than later as at present recruitment does take rather a long time. This delay is not down to one department but several. As an MLA I often rely heavily on the support I get from Gilbert House and the Attorney General’s Chambers. And I would like to recognise their work on our behalf.
Perhaps after today I will be criticised for thanking people for doing what they are paid to do but I do find that in today’s society, thank-you are two small words that cost nothing to use and are not used often enough.
This year ends with the 100th anniversary of the Stanley Sports meetings and I hope it will be well subscribed to. You do not have to own a horse to take part and hopefully there will be something there for everyone both young and old. I look forward to a good turn-out and hope that the weather will make it a great event.
2012 has been an exciting year for the Falklands and I believe that will have much to look forward to as we progress on into and through 2013. I hope that as a community we will be able to embrace the challenges ahead and continue to make the Falklands an even better place to live in.
We start the year with a CPA Regional meeting being held here in early February, which will bring many visitors to the Islands. And this will be followed by our referendum in March which will allow all of us to exercise our right to self-determination by voting and saying what we would like our future to be.
This exercise is one that our neighbours say they will not recognise that for something they consider irrelevant, they are spending a huge amount of time and effort to discredit it world-wide.
Now I ask, who would like to live under a dictatorship – sorry, democracy – like that – where people are denied their freedom of expression.
I would like to ask the CBF to pass on to his men and women in the Falklands our thanks for their continued presence here which gives comfort to many of our residents. Although away from home I do hope they get to enjoy Christmas in the sun and wish all the HM Forces around the world a happy festive season and a safe New Year.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone in the Falklands a Happy Christmas and hope you get what you wish for in the New Year.
Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.