Falklands : DEBATE ON MOTION 5/2013 and LEGISLATION
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 22.06.2013 (Article Archived on 20.07.2013)
That this House believes that when the final version of the Socio-economic Report by Regeneris is published it will represent a basis for the public to clearly express their views as to how they wish to see the Falkland Islands develop following the discovery and planned exploitation of oil.
DEBATE ON MOTION 5/2013 and LEGISLATION
5/2013 by Dr the Hon Barry Elsby:
this House believes that when the final version of the Socio-economic Report by
Regeneris is published it will represent a basis for the public to clearly
express their views as to how they wish to see the Falkland Islands develop
following the discovery and planned exploitation of oil.
KB: The Honourable Gavin Short; you may simply
rise to second the Motion and choose to speak later if you wish.
GS: If it is all the same to you, I will go on
with both barrels. Thank you. In rising to second this Motion before I was
going to launch into what I was going to say, I think the Honourable Doctor
Elsby has a very good point. It is an awful
job trying to reach the vast majority of our population who are, as some have
said, the silent majority. But how you
do it, I donít know but of course it is worrying me now with the immigration
debate coming on and indeed the consultation thatís been done on
consultation. I donít believe they
touched even half the population in their consultations. I am not speaking ill of the people who are
doing the consultation. It is that part
of the population that is very, very difficult to get at.
They donít come to public
meetings. If you bump into them at the
West Store, you are OK. Online Ė I mean
I am deeply in to on line stuff. And I
think this is the way to go. We would
probably get a certain percentage. But
we would have to set it up so we donít have the whole Argentine Nation voting
on what they want to do with ports and roads and things like that. But there are ways and means. It is doable Ė it really is.
What I was thinking of Ė you know
it is really only by sitting down and asking ourselves what we want for our
country and what we want to look at in 20 yearsí time that we can start working
backwards. If you like, it is like
reverse engineering. And we need to reverse
engineer all the steps that you would need to get in place to vision what you
have. You can also bet your bottom
dollar that life is going to happen somewhere along the line and all your best
laid plans will get knocked sideways.
You are going to have to be adaptable whatever you get up to.
We are though, in a way, taking the
first steps. I know the Honourable Dick
Sawle and the boys at the Secretariat are trying to get some initial items in
place and get feedback on that. I
actually went along to it last night and unfortunately it was not very well
attended and there was probably 20 there if it was that.
As I say, we probably are taking
these first tentative steps towards hydrocarbons. We are consulting on this now. Items like the port, the road, food, future
power and the water needs. These last
two, whether there is oil or not, they are resources that we are going to have
to put in place. Water is no the
way. Power is in limbo until we figure
out where the port is going and when it is going there and if we want to put
the power station there. That is
something Ė I believe we should split our power resources Ė having everything
under one roof is a bit silly. If you
have a fire, you donít lose everything.
Again, it is something that the public must have a say in.
Population is also vital. What do we want our population to look like
in 20 yearsí time? Roughly, as my
Colleague was saying, how many people will be around directly related to ine
oil field but there will be others working indirectly with that industry. Others Ė backfilling jobs that we need to
keep other parts of the economy ticking along.
Have ye yet taken a view on how we wish to handle this? Itís probably early days but we canít leave
it much longer.
What model do we want for our
population? Do we want to keep the
steady core and with everybody else on work permits so they flow around
it? But if the oil eventually goes so
does that transient population so we donít have them drawing on the sovereign
wealth fund that we hope to set up.
Thatís just one model but it is stuff that we really have to think
As has already been alluded to Ė
the infrastructure Ė and this is a theme I am sure I and the others will return
to. When oil monies flow we really have
to consult with our population to find out just what they see as the priorities
and how they see it and how quickly they want these things to happen. I suspect when we consult people we are
probably going to get a pretty broad agreement on what it is that they
want. That is, how soon do you want it
by? I think that will really become an
Perhaps if I could use roads as an
example; town roads and indeed those in Camp are indeed in a pretty poor
state. They are cracking up. When oil comes do you want to have a rolling
programme over, say, 10 years to get all the roads sorted out? This will probably mean fetching in a few extra
people every season but not that many.
Or; do you want them done now Ė all of them? And that approach would, of course, mean a
situation that I have actually seen here before Ė large amounts of people being
based here pretty well all year round where there are camps and the social
upheaval that this brings with it. It
was interesting Ė I had recently been talking to someone who had been on the
Norway trip who was saying that in Norway with a large project that would
involve fetching in a lot of workers that led directly to stress in the
community. You had marriage breakdowns,
there were increased pregnancies, etc. etc. all stuff that you do get. Itís the price that you pay for the ĎI want
it nowí scenario. Just to say these are
things weíve got to bear in mind.
Also we will have to think about
the economic models that we want. And, I
say models because I think we will probably go through two stages. Money received in the very stages for example
like now, would have to be ploughed into preparatory works and
infrastructure. Itís almost like
investing in the future Ė it is, really.
Even at this stage there must be a
second leg, though. Some of that money
has to be distributed to our population, in other words to half decent wage
increases to FIG workers which in turn will drag the private sector along with
it. Same with the tax bands indeed, the
re-introduction of the Pound a day scheme.
But a failure to do things like this, even at this very early stage,
will lead very quickly to a population of Falkland islanders feeling alienated
and Ďus and themí mentality will very quickly start to grow. And that feeling that, once again you are a
second class citizen in your own country.
I have never been in favour of
hand-outs apart from a Pound a day, which I firmly do believe in. I think it should be re-introduced as soon as
we can. I want to see our community have
even better levels of pay and life-style that we enjoy now but by golly we will
work for it because I believe that as much as I would like two maids and a
garden, I do not want to go down that road Ė I really donít.
Following that initial stage, the
short model as I shall call it about the future is quickly sprout another leg Ė
investment. We must look after the
future generations when oil is finished.
So that brings us to the sovereign wealth fund. And I think that probably most people in
general are in agreement about this. We
do have to look after people who come after us.
After that, though, our model
needs to sprout at least a fourth leg.
And that fourth leg, I think, would be something that we, as Falkland
Islanders feel really deeply about and thatís we would really like to make
contributions towards the cost of our defence.
But that can only be envisaged and assessed once we know what is coming
into our coffers and once we get our country back on track and once we have an
idea about how much we would have to invest in a secure future for those who
come after us. Anyway, of course that
brings us back to population.
There are many, many things that
require consultation and working through, whatever we get to to. For I believe at its very core must be the
core population and our identity. We
cannot let oil and all that will come with it change who we are, or immigration
be allowed at such a rate that integration stops happening. If we fail in either of these two areas there
will be trouble further down the line when the cash starts running out or
people start feeling alienated or marginalised in their own country.
There are many examples throughout
the world of this happening. Here we
have a chance to get it right. Reports
like those by Regeneris are important tools in helping us do just that. Now I have only just broken the surface of
what I was thinking about. Other members
here and sectors of the community behind us have different ideas and it is
finding out what those are and it is finding out what those are and landing a
broad consensus view of what we want is going to be the challenge. Itís going to be an interesting challenge but
itís doable. There are many problems
ahead but they are good problems because it means our country is going places.
And to sort of harp back to some
of the publications that FIG have been putting out, so letís decide what we
want and walk backwards towards it. Itís
your country. Itís your future and itís
only right that you say what it is that you want your future to look like.
And itís up to us, the politicians
to put the mechanisms in place so that you can tell us.
DS: Mr Speaker, it is very interesting. I am not going to pick up on absolutely
everything you said as there is a whole heap there and I would just like to
zoom in on a couple of points if I may.
On consultation I think we do try
as much as we possibly can to consult with people. If people do not wish to consult, you also
canít force them to answer questions that you may wish to beg for an answer. I entirely agree that if these things were
done electronically then it would probably increase the number of returns of
those consultation documents. That is
something my Honourable Colleague Gavin Short referred to is something we have
done in part and isnít there at the moment, Iím afraid.
Specifically mentioning the port
consultation, itís not just a question of putting a paper out to tick boxes,
comment and send back. And I take the
point there are improvements that make that system better via a self-addressed,
stamped envelope to place it in at no cost to the person sending in the
response. But also, a small team has
been visiting the schools. They have
been engaged with the Junior School, they have been engaged with the Senior
School. There was a consultation
upstairs last night which I should have attended but unfortunately I was unable
to. There is a radio phone-in later on
this week. I think we are consulting as
much as we can.
And if you read last weekís
editorial in Penguin News people are feeling a bit over-consulted so I think we
need to draw a fine line between leading and consulting and I take the point
that people need to take part in these decisions. The ultimate consulting at the end of the day
- it will be up to elected Members to make the important decisions.
On some of the infrastructure,
queries that my Honourable Colleague Barry Elsby raised, I would urge him to go
back to the David Smethers report which did address a lot of that. And that was a result, again, of wide
consultation and came up with a number of recommendations. Itís a public document.
Briefly touching on the
immigration report, that was in itself a result of many months of consultation
with various people and various interest groups within the Falkland
Islands. Itís a very well-produced
document that has to yet be approved by MLAs for wider circulation Ė which it
will be I am sure. That will go out
again to the public to get their comments on it and I would urge them to make
comments. Exactly how they are going to
make the comments, whether it will be electronic or it will be whatever? I have no idea just at the moment.
I will just finish by asking my
Honourable Colleague Dr Barry Elsby Ė you started off by mentioning you had a
number of callers saying they hadnít been consulted on something. I am genuinely interested to find out what it
is they have not been consulted on.
MS: (Mr Speaker) Honourable members, I
commend the Honourable Barry Elsby for creating a debate on this issue at this
time and I would like to start by proposing to him and to other members a
rhetorical question. What is the fabric
of society? What work has been done here
actually on the sociology of the Falkland Islands? What do you think it is that you are trying
to preserve? I suspect that a large
amount of what we have as a community is due to the size but itís knowing each
other and the inevitability of having more people is that you know less of
them. But perhaps we should be proposing
some kind of sociological study of what is the fabric of society because I
donít think we know what it is we are
trying to preserve.
And the other issue about going to
the public generally, even indeed to ourselves and asking what we want to be in
50 yearsí time? Frankly most of us
havenít got a clue. Unless you can
provide some kind of guidelines for the sorts of things that might be available
then you are really going to struggle to create that vision.
When the fishery started here in
the early-mid Ď80s did anybody realty have a clue about what we created? I donít think so. What we did was to put something in place
that generated ten times more income than we had ever seen before and then
reacted to it and reacted to it sometimes slowly, other times more
quickly. We adapted and we are what we
are. Is the fabric of society today the
dame as the fabric of society in 1984?
No. itís not. And nor is it the same as it was in
1956. So what is it we are trying to
The other point I would just like
to make is a point that I alluded to in my response to the Governor earlier on
and that is being Stanley-centric. In
your opening remarks you made comments about the growth in Stanley. You didnít mention the new town of North Arm
or the new town at Port Howard or the new town at Port Stephens. Thatís the sort of vision you can have
perhaps over 50 years with those sorts of amounts of money available. And thatís the sort of discussion I think we
should be having.
And to sustain that kind of vision
we would need a different approach. To the one we currently adopted. We have adopted a minimalist approach to oil
exploration because we donít really understand it. We have been there before and have done it so
the less that happens the better in terms of oil exploration and
production. But actually if you want to
create a different society, a different country, a different structure for the
future you will have to have downstream developments. And oil and Gas both provide the opportunity
for substantial downstream investments and developments.
And the sort of investments you
were talking about before Ė and I donít know what they would have been Ė
certainly is possible if you have gas coming ashore to have a fertiliser
manufacturing plant, to have a plastics plant, to have a this plant, a that
plant and the other plant. Thatís how
you can grow a different type of society but you canít do it with the
minimalist approach that we have and just getting large amounts of money
stashed away in a sovereign wealth fund for the benefit of 3,000 people. That might but I doubt it maintain the
current fabric of society. I think
little will change.
So we have to be visionary but
also cautious about launching into some sort of communist state planning of
societies because largely what we will do is react to what happens. But we do have to put the mechanisms in place. So there are lots of things to think
about. We had a discussion of this sort
not very long ago in Gilbert House and I seem to recall saying to the Chief
Executive that itís very difficult for people to say what their vision is going
to be in 50 yearsí time. And actually
what we need to be doing is sitting down and discussing what some of the
possibilities are and then look over them and see if we can tolerate some or
not tolerate others.
(There are) no answers to the
debate. I am delighted that you opened
up the subject and we can have these discussions but we have to be quite
circumspect about what we think it is we are trying to preserve. And we need to be more visionary about what
it is we are trying to create and itís not just about how big Stanley is going
JC: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I
also wrestle with how to get the views of the silent majority. We do get them silently in the privacy of the
ballot box every four years. We heard
them nearly four years ago and we will hear them again in November.
I suspect each of us listens to a
different group of people. Different people voted for us. No one voted for all of us I suspect. You have to be receptive to those views and
recognise that many people have no wish to go and speak at a public meeting and
have no wish to stick their head above the parfait. Many because of their employment Ė itís
unfortunate Ė but they feel unable to speak out about their own subjects. So they will contact individual Members
privately by phone, by catching them in the West Store, outside the Post Office
or wherever they do it. What we have to
do is be receptive to all those even if someone wants to phone you for an hour
at 9 ĎO Clock at night. It may have
taken them three days to pluck up courage to do that so you listen. You need to be in listening mode, not telling
The Regeneris report is just one
of the many tools we all use as a basis for consultation. We already have one of those consultations
underway. I talked months ago about
people complaining about consultation fatigue as we are expected to make a
decision on everything. They elect us to
make some of those decisions for them. I
am not saying donít consult I am saying donít expect everything to be by public
referendum. Thatís not the way this form
of democratic government runs.
There are concerns, I know, about
potential immigration and I have urged people with those concerns to speak to
the individual who is doing the study for us.
And, of course, they will have many opportunities once the findings and
potential legislation are published to get their points to us.
The population increase Ė people
seem to think it is a rather scary prospect.
I should remind you that the population in the (19) 20s and 30s was
around 3,000 Ė similar to that now. That
reduced because of the lack of opportunities and the lack of industries because
there wasnít the money to educate young people because those young people
wouldnít have been able to get a decent job even if they had an education.
So there is some value in growth
of population. It dwindled away. At one point there may have been more
Falkland Islanders in Southampton or New Zealand than there were in the
Falklands. Since í82, thatís turned
around. It started when we had 4,000
very welcome British Troops billeted around Stanley. That didnít cause social disaster. There were a few foolish people who got themselves
into difficulties but we weathered that.
We have coped since with the mere governing of the 1800 people who were
here in í82 to around 3,000 today.
Most of those people (incoming)
have been net contributors to the economy, to the community, dare I say, to the
gene pool. We have coped with that. We have even coped somehow with some of the
dysfunctional families who turned up with little idea of what they were coming to.
I took note of what the Honourable
Gavin Short said about the speed of development. That will somehow dictate the number of
people that will be required to do the work.
We shouldnít be turning away opportunities Ė we should be managing them
and that is what all the work that we have our civil servants and others are
doing and what it is designed to do.
We do need to look seriously at
the potential for a sovereign wealth fund.
That, importantly also to ensure that we have the ability to invest in
possible new industries to be here providing employment long after oil has gone
and which will increase the future security.
My final words on the subject will
be Ė donít panic. Keep working on
Thank you. I support the Motion.
IH: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I, too, would
like to commend the Honourable Barry Elsby for introducing this Motion and
debate. So I have to admit at one point
I wasnít sure I wasnít taking part in a debate or listening to an election
I think the very obvious
difference in the consultation of where we are going to be in 50 yearsí time or
20 yearsí time or 10 yearsí time within the oil industry or whatever. It is very different to any other
consultation we have with the general public simply because we donít have any
control over it. And we put together a
huge strategy or whatever we think the vision of the Falklands is going to be
in 10, 15, 20 yearsí time. But at the
end of the day, until that oil starts coming out of the ground, that oil is
actually exploited and we are getting money in our coffers, it doesnít really
I am not saying that consultation
shouldnít happen. I totally agree we
should be talking about opportunities available if or when it happens. I donít just say when Ė I say if Ė because
there is still a possibility that it may not happen.
But I do believe that when people
know more of what is happening in the oil industry then it is more positive and
they know that things are really going to be happening. Then we will see much more interest and
people coming forward to talk to us and put a review forward and have something
concrete to build on.
RE: Mr Speaker, consultation is good,
listening is better. Consultation is
necessary but leadership is key and thatís where we as MLAs and as leaders of
the government should be leading the way.
SH: Mr Speaker,
much has been said. I just have one
observation and that was when the Honourable Barry Elsby mention that the
consultation on the Port had been handed out all around Stanley. That is not Falklands. If you want a response from the Falklands then
there are people living in Camp as well.
You did mention that they could see it on line but of course they
couldnít complete it on line. So if you
are going to hand stuff out in post boxes in Stanley, people in Camp also have
post boxes in Stanley as that is where the mail comes from and perhaps they can
be included in the loop.
DS: Mr Speaker, on that specific point I shall
take that criticism back and deal with it.
KB: The Honourable Barry Elsby, if you would like
to sum up your position?
BE: Mr Speaker, Honourable members,
just to thank people for taking part in the debate. As you say I do see the need for more debate
and despite what the Honourable Ian Hansen said, It wasnít meant as political
electioneering. I think many people
have made many important points here and I think that is the whole point of the
debate is to raise questions so we can go away and think about it. I do think itís important to look to the
The Honourable Mike Summers has
talked about gas coming ashore, fertiliser plants, plastic plants. If you were to say that to people at present
that if they want a population in 50 yearsí time that might be 100,000, 200,000
Ė I donít know. But the potential is of
huge changes in our society so we do have to air all possibilities. And he is absolutely right. What is our society, what is our fabric? We should be looking more into that.
I think the fundamental though is
there is a danger of over-consulting and I think we have to choose our subjects
very carefully. I look back at the
responses we had and when we consulted on the driving laws around the Falklands
or something like that Ė I cannot remember the exact thing Ė we got 3 people
responding. I think that says a lot. So we have to choose our subjects and we have
to inform peop