Falklands : GOVERNOR'S ADDRESS TO THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 04.06.2013 (Article Archived on 02.07.2013)
Mr Speaker, the past year has once again been interesting and challenging for the Falkland Islands. There are a number of reasons for this, some of which I will outline in this address. I will also set out how the Government responded to those challenges and I will outline its aims and aspirations for the future.
GOVERNOR'S ADDRESS TO THE
TUESDAY 4 JUNE 2013
Speaker, the past year has once again been interesting and challenging for the
Falkland Islands. There are a number of reasons for this, some of which I will
outline in this address. I will also set out how the Government responded to those
challenges and I will outline its aims and aspirations for the future.
will start by referring to the industry with the most significant potential
impact on the Islands; the hydrocarbons industry. Those that have followed Falklands
oil exploration over the years will recall that early predictions for success
rates were perhaps 1 in 10. The three drilling campaigns to date have resulted
in the operators declaring 7 discoveries out of 27 wells drilled. Planning is
underway for oil production from the Sea Lion field, with a target date of late
2017. In addition, the 2012 drilling campaign was completed safely and successfully,
with a gas condensate discovery and a gas discovery being declared by the
operators. Furthermore, several large seismic studies have been and are being
undertaken to identify further prospects. There is therefore a wealth of data
to be analysed over the coming months and years.
drilling campaigns over the last three years have proved that oil companies can
work with remote re-supply. Nor have South American politics restricted their activities
here. We are extremely grateful for the unequivocal support from the UK
Government for the right of the Falkland Islands Government to license offshore
exploration. Exploitation of natural resources is a fundamental right under the
Falklands Constitution. Serious multinational oil industry players from the UK,
Europe and the US have interests in the Falkland Islands, which are judged to
be a good place to do business. Unfortunately, Argentine pressures are mainly
affecting business opportunities for South American companies who are unable to
take advantage of the new logistical opportunities that a successful oil industry
impact that hydrocarbons may have on the Islands is of paramount importance to
all of us. The abundance of wildlife, the pristine nature of the Islands and
the way of life of the Islanders must all be considered. The development of the
oil industry must be, and will be, carefully planned. We are migrating from oil
exploration to oil extraction and significant progress has already been made.
Relevant legislation has been reviewed and new and amended legislation is in
the pipeline. Planning in all areas is progressing well and specialists have
been commissioned to guide us in the process. Several reviews have already been
completed and consultation is underway in several areas.
Infrastructure Development Plan is being drafted which identifies more than 30
key policy decisions that will need to be taken to enable and support
hydrocarbon developments, whilst ensuring that the developments are appropriate
for the Islands. We now understand better what the likely impacts of oil will
be on the economy and our society. Port facilities, land use, and other
infrastructure issues that will be affected by long-term oil industry
development are all under consideration.
Government is working with the private sector to define policies that will
encourage and maximise opportunities for local businesses to work with the oil
industry. The prospect of oil provides a real opportunity to boost the economic
prosperity of the Islands. However, the future of the Islands is by no means
dependent on oil. The Government recognises the need to develop other economic
opportunities. We will continue to invest, improve and diversify our economy in
furtherance of continued financial self-sufficiency. I will speak more on this
has been international interest in the Islands for many months now. This is partly
the result of Argentine attempts to present historical inaccuracies and
spurious sovereignty claims but also the result of positive action by MLAs and
local people, supported by the British Government’s steadfast resolve. The
profile of the Falkland Islands was raised even higher in the international
community in March this year. A referendum was held to allow the Falkland
Islanders to express their wishes on their political future. A resounding and
overwhelming result was forthcoming. An unprecedented turnout of 92% of voters
exercised their democratic right and 99.8% of them voted to remain a British
overseas territory. A clear and unequivocal message has been sent to the
international community in general and our neighbours in particular.
referendum process, from inception to final count, was scrutinised by 12
international observers from eight countries, including some from South
America. The observers confirmed that the referendum was open and fair and was
conducted to the highest international standards; a reflection of the hard work
put in by all those involved. The referendum also resulted in lessons being
learned that will be applied to enhance our future democratic processes.
on the subject of the referendum, may I take this opportunity to thank all
those involved, not just directly in the referendum process itself but also to
those who provided accommodation, transport and guidance to the multitude of
reporters and cameramen that descended on the Islands to witness history being
made. By your actions you provided a visible demonstration of the friendliness
and openness that typifies the Falkland Islands’ approach to visitors,
providing a further message to the world at large.
10. To return to the economy, I am pleased to see continued
optimism in the farming community despite recent reductions in wool and meat
prices. Investment on farms continues and the Department of Agriculture has
continued to work with farmers to achieve a balance between meat and wool
income. FIMCo has more than achieved its targets for meat production and sales.
The returns to farmers from meat production provide encouragement to continue
the development of the meat side of their businesses and to diversify.
11. An ambitious new Action Plan has been agreed to implement the
Rural Development Strategy, which was developed to encourage greater economic
activity and population growth in Camp. Implementation of the Action Plan,
incorporating a potential Rural Enterprise Zone will be pursued
enthusiastically in the coming months. The Government has included significant
funding in the budget for coming years to allow rural priorities to be pursued.
12. Tourism is an increasingly important part of the economy of
the Falklands and will still be here long after the oil is gone. The Government
facilitated the development of a Tourism Strategy, aimed at increasing the
number of tourists and transforming the tourism industry. A key thrust of the
Strategy is to increase the number of land-based tourists. To achieve the aims
of the Strategy, the necessary infrastructure, quality tourism product and appropriate
transport links need to be in place. Redevelopment of the public jetty and the
relocation of the Museum will be completed for the 2013/14 tourist season in
support of the strategic ambitions and in line with the Waterfront Masterplan.
The potential for additional air links and increase in accommodation capacity
will also continue to be pursued.
13. The current financial year is once again looking healthy for
fishery finances. The second Loligo season in 2012 continued the good results
of the first season with catches for the year reaching 70,900 tonnes. This is
the highest catch since 1995. The
Falkland Islands fishery is widely regarded as one of the best-managed
fisheries in the world. A significant effort has recently been put into evaluating
trawl net mesh sizes, through a series of research cruises. The aim is to
develop a solution that will reduce discards of small fish and improve
conservation of resources. This work is testament to our policy of responsible
environmental stewardship and sustainable management of our natural resources. The
long- awaited new Fisheries Building constructed by Morrison (Falklands) Ltd
was completed in 2012, with the Fisheries Department moving from FIPASS in
October. The grey containers on FIPASS
are a distant memory for fisheries staff.
14. The Government has established the South Atlantic
Environmental Research Institute (SAERI). His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent formally
opened the Institute in November, during the official Royal Jubilee visit to
the Islands. SAERI has established itself well and is bringing new science to
the Islands, some of which is in collaboration with other overseas territories,
such as the GIS project which is being developed in conjunction with St Helena
15. In contrast to many other parts of the world, the Falkland
Islands economy is booming and another significant Government surplus was
evident last year. This was partly due to additional Government revenues from
the hydrocarbons industry but it was also the result of an excellent year for
the fishing industry. Illex squid catches were again high and the current
season also looks promising. Whilst the Islands are not immune to the problems
of the world economy, the Government has substantial reserves that are invested
wisely and prudently.
16. The provision of effective, efficient and affordable healthcare can only
be achieved by active management.
Changing patient expectations, ever-improving clinical standards,
technological advances and increasing clinical specialisation compound the
challenge. A considerable number of
clinical policies, procedures and explicit standards have been set, from which
clinical performance can be assessed; more comprehensive data management
systems are being developed to support this process. The health partnership
that is being developed with a major NHS teaching hospital is an exciting
development. This offers significant potential benefits in areas such as
telemedicine, staff training and development and specialist support.
Social Services section has had a number of significant challenges in recent
months. As a result, a holistic review of our practices, policies and law
relating to safeguarding children, which has been underway for some time, has
been given additional impetus. This is designed to ensure that the interests of
children in the Falklands will continue to be properly served. Recommendations
from the review will be taken forward on a multi-agency basis, promoting a
consistent and coherent approach across Government.
18. It is pleasing to note that there are increasing numbers of
children coming into the education system with 44 children starting the new
purpose built pre-school this year. Greater use is also being made of IT in
education, particularly in Camp where pupil numbers are now at their highest
for many years, resulting in the recruitment of additional travelling teachers
and the opening of a new school at Port Howard.
19. Special Needs provision has been extended through direct recruitment
and through links with UK providers. Work is ongoing to formulate a strategy
that will facilitate coordinated special needs provision and enhance the lives
of vulnerable people generally. It has also been encouraging to see a growing
number of young people at the Training Centre undertaking apprenticeships and
both in-house and distance learning courses.
20. At the Community School, a focus on self-evaluation has
informed school improvement planning and the development of a long-term vision.
With the arrival this August of a very experienced head teacher from the UK
state sector, we should see a settled period of leadership and even more rapid
progress in line with expectations.
21. In addition, it is noteworthy that there has been increasing
stability of staff in the Education Service. More than 50% of teachers are now
Falkland Islanders and the majority of UK-recruited staff are renewing their
contracts. It is also heartening to see the success of the Government’s career
succession policy, which has enabled local candidates to move into senior
leadership roles in both schools. The recent appointment of local candidates to
the Head teacher position at the Infant/Junior School and the Deputy Head teacher
at the Community School are the most obvious examples of this but other local
staff have also undertaken leadership training and are moving into positions of
greater influence across the Education Sector.
22. This Government remains committed to good governance and
reducing bureaucracy. The implementation of the recommendations in Irene
Lucas’s 'Review of the Review' report continues. The recommended structural
changes were implemented at an early stage, together with some of the
procedural improvements (such as simplification of performance management). However,
some of the changes, such as the development of a workforce development plan
and definitions of roles and responsibilities are evolving over time.
23. This Government also remains committed to achieving progress
on a range of issues and continuous improvement in the delivery of public
services. A framework approach was
developed, which sets out how Government services will be considered for
outsourcing. The Government’s IT hardware and infrastructure maintenance has already
been outsourced. The outsourcing of payroll services is at the concept stage
and a number of approaches relating to other services (including post office, waste
management, recycling, housing and certain PWD services) have been received. Business
cases will be prepared and evaluated over the next few months. The private
sector has engaged well with the process.
24. Whilst on the subject of outsourcing, the localisation of
support services associated with the MOD presence on the Islands remains a
priority, in line with the aspirations of the Economic Development Strategy. A Programme
Initiation Document has been agreed between the Falkland Islands Government and
the Ministry of Defence and a Localisation Commerce Board has also been
established to ensure that the private sector is thoroughly engaged with the
process. The process is designed to broaden further the economic base of the
Islands whilst reducing costs of defence and freeing up limited resources. We
recently saw the first success with the agreement for the provision of
photocopier services to be provided locally. It is hoped that this will be the
first of many and ‘in principle’ agreement has been reached on the localisation
of air terminal services.
25. In addition, agreement has been reached with the Ministry of
Defence for the provision of a Wind Farm to provide electricity at Mount
Pleasant and Mare Harbour. This will provide financial benefits to FIG and the
MOD and will result in a significant reduction in carbon emissions; a win-win
and an excellent example of joint working for mutual benefit.
26. There are however difficult challenges that we will continue
to face in the immediate and longer terms. The recent census has revealed that
our population is essentially static and ageing. This in itself will result in
challenges for the future and FIG must prepare to respond to such challenges in
the coming year
27. The most important challenge is to make sure that a strong
economy is maintained. Whilst the potential economic benefits that would come
with oil production would be welcome the economy is not, and should not become,
reliant on it. The Economic Development Strategy, or EDS, which was produced in
partnership with local businesses, was designed as a roadmap to help in
developing the economy. The EDS includes measures to develop existing
industries such as fisheries, agriculture and tourism but also includes options
for diversification into new sectors and for improving the general economic
environment. The Government budget will again include significant sums to
support investment in the EDS proposals.
28. The challenges we face also include dealing with continued attempts by the Government of Argentina to
impede certain sectors of our economy. However, we are confident that these
attempts will continue to fail and we have the full backing of the UK
Government and international law. Such attempts are inconvenient and
frustrating but our focus must remain on our own objectives and we should not
be diverted by baseless attempts to derail us. We will continue to concentrate
on our own development agenda.
29. The Falkland Islands Government has continued its
international public diplomacy strategy. The Queen’s speech at the opening of
the UK Parliament in May made it clear that the British Government will
continue to support our freedom to determine our own political future. In
addition, the Overseas Territories White Paper issued in June last year by the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office sets out a number of areas for support and
joint working. So far this year more than 100 international journalists from
over 20 countries have visited the Islands and the members of Legislative
Assembly have visited more than 40 countries in support of this effort. It is
also noteworthy that many locals have been enthusiastically vocal in support,
at home and abroad and young Falkland Islanders attended the Commonwealth Youth
Parliament last year. The 43rd annual Commonwealth parliamentary
Association Conference for the British Islands and Mediterranean Region was
held in Stanley this year and was widely regarded as a great success with nearly
40 delegates attending
30. It has been, and will continue to be, a challenge for the
Falkland Islands to resource this effort. Nevertheless, it is a challenge well
worth pursuing. The Falkland Islands Government is devoting considerable
resources undertaking its own public relations and will continue to do so, to
make sure that the Islanders' voices are heard and their right to
self-determination is promoted. We need to make sure that key messages about
the Island's status, constitutional and legal position, and the overriding
determination of the community to remain a British Overseas Territory are fully
understood internationally. However, we also need to make sure that as many
people as possible are aware that the Falklands have a modern community, a
successful economy, a commitment to the highest levels of environmental stewardship
and a huge tourist potential.
31. In addition to the headline services already mentioned, the
Government has a number of other priorities for the coming months.
32. Last year the Government commissioned an independent review
of immigration. This is intended to result in a completely fair, transparent
and easy to follow immigration system being put in place, balancing the needs of a larger labour pool to
facilitate economic growth with preserving the Falklands way of life. The
appropriate balance needs to be struck between the two to ensure continued diversification
of the economy and increased prosperity of the Islands. This review is nearing
completion and its recommendations will be discussed in the near future.
33. Linked to this, in terms of modern economic development, we
will see the introduction of a minimum wage in the Falkland Islands; a first
step in improving employment laws to ensure that no one in work lives in
34. Localisation of Government jobs remains a priority. New promotion
and recruitment procedures are being developed which will enable Falkland
Island staff to be identified for development and promotion at an early stage,
with the expectation that they will eventually fill senior posts. The
Government budget includes £200,000 a year for the Succession Planning and
Career Development schemes; very important extensions to the training budget.
Unfortunately, the take up on these schemes has been limited so far and it will
be a priority to review the eligibility criteria and scheme limitations, to ensure
that training budgets can be appropriately spent. Notwithstanding this, a
second leadership development programme was undertaken to supplement the
'Darwin 16' initiative. This was again a notable success and demonstrates the
Government's commitment to succession planning and developing local talent.
35. The regulation of telecommunications has been continued and
we now have an effective price control mechanism in place for the provision of
telecoms services. Appropriate regulatory accounts are available to the
Government and there is an internet performance quality regime in place. This work
has resulted in lower and capped prices for broadband and annual increases in
download limits and speeds. A dedicated regulator post has been approved in the
Regulatory Services section, which will allow it to move on to reviewing performance
of exclusive licence holders in preparation for licence notifications. Work can
also begin on monopoly regulation. Government is also conscious of the need to
regulate hydrocarbon exploitation and associated industries.
36. Transport links are an important part of the Islands'
infrastructure; both internally and externally. The Government is investigating
a number of possibilities for enhanced air links to improve accessibility and
allow tourism and the economy generally to develop. Significant budgets have
also been included for maintenance and improvement of the Camp road network.
37. Housing remains a strategic priority for the Government. 31
plots will be made available imminently as part of a major development at
Sapper Hill; 10 of these having been earmarked for first time buyers at greatly
subsidised cost. A further 19 plots are projected to be released in November
this year. The development will eventually provide a total of 120 additional
plots. Linked to this, a further 20 houses are planned to be built by FIG
within the development to assist in meeting local housing needs and additional
contract staff. The housing developments, together with the other planned and
potential infrastructure schemes will place high demands on many support
services, particularly in the Public Works department. We will need to ensure
that services are robust, flexible and resilient to meet those demands.
38. The Government has committed considerable additional
resources to strengthen and develop the system of justice within the Islands.
Additional drafting resources have been engaged to assist in reducing the
legislative backlog and assist in the development of new and improved laws. A
new ‘Revised Laws’ project has been undertaken which will go back to basics to
establish a baseline for current legislation and recommend a way forward for
the future. This is a huge task but it is a significant step forward in ensuring
that the Falkland Islands will have clear, complete and authoritative laws that
are publicly accessible. In addition, an independent review of the Courts was
recently concluded. A number of important recommendations aimed at improving
the effectiveness of the Courts system will be considered shortly.
39. The Government's policy priorities for the forthcoming
financial year will result in an ambitious legislative programme. This will
Submission and implementation of a
new Crimes and Criminal Procedure and Evidence Ordinances to update and clarify
an important area of our legislation;
Review and amendment of the
Children Ordinance to ensure it is fit for purpose;
Planning legislation amendments to
deal with appeals and rights of the public to speak on planning matters;
A new Prisons Ordinance to replace
existing provisions that are badly out of date;
A new Finance and Audit Ordinance
to modernise financial and fiscal responsibilities and improve financial
Appropriate legislation to
implement the new regime for Members Remuneration;
Legislation to establish a
Statutory Tourism Corporation; and
Further progress on Road Traffic
40. In addition, further amendments will be made to the Electoral
Ordinance (to improve the democratic process) and the Tax Ordinance (to clarify
existing provisions where appropriate and implement any impending budget
decisions). Every opportunity will also be taken to clarify and bring Falkland
Islands' Legislation up to date.
41. Mr Speaker, as has been said many times before, Falkland
Islanders are resilient and resourceful. They stand up for themselves and they
are steadfast in their resolve. For nearly two hundred years they have been meeting
challenges and they find practical and inventive solutions to those. The
Falkland Islands have a modern society with modern expectations and ambitions.
The community has high standards and high moral obligations. It deserves a
modern, efficient and effective Government to work with. There are some serious
challenges ahead, as there are in many parts of the world. However, the
Government will continue to work to provide practical, imaginative and
sometimes bold solutions so that first class services can continue to be
provided. This approach will enable the Islands to continue to have the bright
future that they deserve.