(As broadcast over FIRS on Wednesday, 23 October 2013
The next Assembly will face a most challenging and exciting time in the Islands' history. If chosen to represent you I would hope to bring experience, common sense and an unrivalled corporate memory to the new Assembly. I outline just a few of the many important subjects to be considered.
Political challenges will be many, first countering the economic and diplomatic aggression of Argentina requires a sustained campaign of public diplomacy. Significant progress has been made using the evolving plan begun several years ago by the outgoing Assembly but more work will be needed and full time members will have more time to devote to it. The referendum earlier in the year can have left no doubt about the wishes of the people but Getting that message out where it needs to be will be a never ending task- Attending the party conferences brought home the fact that in the UK we are increasingly meeting a generation not born in until the 1990s with little knowledge of the Islands and their people. As long as there is a threat by some to ignore our right to self-determination MLAs will have to dedicate time to making our case internationally. Internally we will have to develop our democracy to meet the increasing demands on it. The new Assembly should consider how to move toward a system where they take more responsibility. Full time MLAs who are planning to commit all their time and energy to the role are essential to this process, as is absolute integrity so that the UK is given no reason to meddle in our internal affairs. Members' full declarations of interests are more crucial than ever and if anything I would declare interests too often rather than risk failing to declare one at the appropriate time. With the potential for oil there is too much at stake if someone were perceived to be attempting to conceal an interest. In the name of good governance there can be no excuse for failing to declare interests and shareholdings.
The economy will require careful management; things went woefully wrong when fishing first boosted the economy. Some now, unfortunately, are dazzled by the figures being bandied about but until commercial oil is actually flowing and royalties being received we must proceed with caution. In the meantime money from the exploration phase is enabling FIG to plan necessary regulation and legislation. Much work has been done to anticipate all that needs to be in place for a potential production phase but a great deal more is needed. It is perhaps fortunate that the date for 'first oil' has already slipped to late 2O18 to give more time to get it right. It is likely that royalty revenues will only start to make a real difference more than 5 years from now. Nevertheless staffing of some departments will need to increase to meet the demands that will be placed on them. Income should also be used to develop the skills that will be needed for Islanders to participate in the oil industry at every level. Regrettably that is not happening because the criteria for access to funding are currently too limited and bureaucracy to be responsive to newly identified training needs. I believe that FIDC is failing to gr6p this part of its role and would actively continue to press for this vital aspect of development, which is as much about people as projects. Islanders employed in the industry and in support roles will be paying all their tax as well as spending most of their earnings here so they are worthy of support
Potential capital projects will require considerable commitment of FIG money and the MPA road is only one of many to be considered. The new Assembly will have to decide what its priorities are to be when they have a full understanding of the situation. While wind power is making a contribution to power generation, the conventional kit at the power station is past its best and its replacement cannot be delayed much longer. The new water supply for Stanley must be funded, also improvements to waste management to meet some basic standards. Additional classrooms for education are also urgently needed, as is additional FIG office space for increased staff numbers. A reorganization of the hospital will be possible if a purpose build home for the elderly with higher dependency needs is built.
I await the production of the business case for a new port in Port William. If the case is negative or not adequately made then the new Assembly will have to revisit the question' While I have no problem with temporary facilities in Stanley Harbour I sympathise with those who fear that temporary can easily become permanent- I would also argue for a review of our planning processes which may not be sufficiently robust to handle issues arising from oil production. While we want to enable that development to go ahead it must not be at the cost of our environment and quality of life.
Environmental protection is not just an issue for oil related developers who would have to adhere to high environmental standards and efficient waste management" Our waste management, as alluded to in my comment on capital projects, would not stand up to proper scrutiny. We also need to take a critical look at many of our activities. The lack of coherent management of public land like Stanley Common and in particular Cape Pembroke leaves us open to justifiable criticism. This land belongs to all of us so we share responsibility to care for it and pass it unspoiled to new generations.
FIG departments including PWO, Mineral Resources, Education and Medical will be stretched to meet extra demand and the next Assembly will have to address this urgently if services are not to suffer. Education is making good progress but the UK system into which our students go for further and higher studies is failing in some areas and should be used selectively. I watch developments there with great interest because we want our young people to gain qualifications that mean something. Every time we increase the range of courses available to cover all abilities we increase staff and accommodation requirements but cannot afford not to do so.
The immigration review consultation results will be reported to the new Assembly and they will have to carefully scrutinise those recommendations before any are implemented. I want to see any new legislation include the requirement for stringent checks on all aspects of it, for example decent wages and accommodation. Related to this the minimum wage legislation is due to come into effect in December and I want to see an early review to ensure that it is set at a realistic figure. Some work is under way to calculate a living wage and I would expect that to influence the process.
I maintain a keen interest in all aspects of government and if elected will have an open mind regarding portfolios until all new members have had a chance to discuss them. I make no rash promises but if elected undertake to work hard and listen to the electorate taking account of views expressed when making decisions- Although of pensionable age I believe if elected I am able to represent Islanders of all ages and I am happy to hear from anyone who has questions or views they wish to put to me. My phone number is 2L372 and if at home I always answer calls, if I am not home leave a message and I will get back to you.
Alternatively e-mail me email@example.com
Thank you for taking time to listen to this. Please use at least some of your votes on the 7h of November to demonstrate our lively democracy.