Live: Throne Speech
Governor John Rankin has delivered the Progressive Labour Party’s first Throne Speech in nearly five years.
Below is The Royal Gazette’s blow-by-blow account of today’s proceedings. For our full story, visit http://www.royalgazette.com/politics/article/20170908/throne-speech-focuses-on-departure-from-past
To see the speech in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.
• The House is adjourned until next Friday.
• Mr Burt introduces three pieces of legislation: the Companies Amendment (No 2) Act 2017, The Payroll Tax Amendment (No 3) Act 2017 and the USA Bermuda Tax Convention (No 3) Act 2017.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, tables the Proceeds of Crime Amendment Act (No 2) Act 2017 and the Quarantine Amendment Act 2017.
• Led by the Black Rod, MPs have headed back to the House of Assembly.
• Some personal words from Mr Burt to finish, read by Mr Rankin: “I welcome the initiatives in this speech aimed at supporting young people in Bermuda to fulfil their potential. I also particularly welcome the initiatives which look to reduce the threats to safety of all Bermudians from both violence and the all too many accidents on the roads.”
• Wrapping up, reference is made to a quote from former premier Alex Scott: “Bermuda works best when it works together.”
The new Government will lead that collective effort, the PLP pledges, to ensure that “we grow the economic pie for all, that we increase opportunity for all, and that we build a better and fairer Bermuda for all”.
• A new category of dwelling units will be created to stimulate construction demand and provide homeowners with extra income.
• A Green Paper will be produced over mandatory recycling, single-use plastic bags and bottle deposits.
• Community and sporting clubs will be given loans to upgrade their facilities and develop programmes to serve youths, spur entrepreneurship and ensure greater community outreach.
• The Land Title Registration regime will be brought into force to minimise fraud.
• The Government will invest in new buses and immediately fix six vacant maintenance positions.
• A Green Paper will be produced on the future of transport in Bermuda to provide “options for modernisation” taking into account the “needs of the differently abled”.
• Rules will be introduced so that companies which hire Bermudians are given preference in the awarding of contracts.
• A Code of Practice for Project Management and Procurement will ensure small contractors get a “fair shake”.
• Premier’s Question Time will be introduced at the House of Assembly.
• A Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians will demand high standards of behaviour for politicians.
• An interactive citizens forum will “engage in constructive discussion on issues” to “broaden the base of consultation on matters that affect Bermudians”.
• Consultation will take place over the introduction of a sugar tax.
• The Residential Care Homes and Nursing Homes Act will be amended to protect seniors and others in care homes.
• A comprehensive review of healthcare costs will take place.
• Sobriety checkpoints and increased penalties will be implemented to crack down on drinking and driving.
• A Green Paper will be published to review Bermuda’s drug policies, to discuss options to reduce drug abuse.
• Cannabis possession will be decriminalised for amounts under seven grams.
• Government will selectively release information on sex offenders to the public.
• The Children Act 1998 will be amended to bring better protection and care for children.
• The Government will ensure full compliance for those who refuse to pay child support, with new enforcement options put in place.
• The Financial Assistance Programme will be reviewed, so that able-bodied unemployed people receiving assistance will be able to upgrade their education and skills.
• A youth-focused Stop Cyber Bullying Summit will help set up a National Cyber Safety Plan.
• A National Cyber Security Strategy will be developed.
• Legislation will be introduced to give ordinary citizens greater confidence in the independence of the Police Complaints Authority.
• Financial support will be provided to Bermudians who wish to break from their dependence on gangs to return to school to learn a trade or achieve their GED.
• A Gang Violence Reduction Coordinator will be appointed with a singular focus on implementing programmes to reduce violence and antisocial behaviour, ensuring that social services are focused on dealing with the root causes of crime.
• The Defence Act 1965 will be amended to officially end conscription to the Royal Bermuda Regiment within this legislative session.
• A bill will be tabled creating a Policy Authority, comprising Government House, the Government, police and laymen. This will help establish Bermuda’s policing priorities and determine funding required to support the police.
• A National Skills Policy will be set up for employers to address “chronic skills shortages across different occupational groupings”.
• Wi-Fi will be in place at East End Primary School and Purvis Primary School next week. All middle school and primary schools will have Wi-Fi by the end of the school year.
• Town hall meetings will take place in September over the plan to phase out middle schools and reintroduce a two-tier system.
• A Request for Information will be issued to establish a Technology Hub at Southside.
• Pension legislation will be updated to require equal treatment for Bermudian and expatriate workers.
• A bipartisan committee on immigration reform will be established to develop policy and legislation.
• A new parliamentary committee will present recommendations to implement a living wage in Bermuda.
• The Price Control Commission will be given additional powers and scope to find innovative ways to reduce the cost of living.
• Regulations under the umbrella of an updated Consumer Protection Act will be introduced for debt collection agencies, to regulate payday lenders who lend money at “extraordinary interest rates” and to bring banking, insurance and other financial service conduct.
• A Director of Cooperative Economics will be created to boost community-based economic empowerment.
• Vacation rentals legislation will help Government “better support the vacation rental sector to the benefit of Bermudian homeowners, service providers and entrepreneurs”.
• The ACBDA will be turned into the Bermuda Events Authority to use a “far more diverse and inclusive approach” which will acknowledge Bermuda is “more than golf, rugby and sailing”.
• The Tourism Investment Act will stimulate investment in restaurants, attractions and facilities to grow tourism and create jobs.
• An Economic Diversification Unit will aim to provide additional jobs and careers for Bermudians.
• A Tax Reform Commission will determine and create the “fairest tax regime possible”.
• Government will retable the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre review of Bermuda’s tax system.
• The Bermuda First Think Tank will be re-established.
• Government will staff the empty Washington, DC office and increase engagement with the European Union in Brussels to ensure Bermuda’s interests are represented after Brexit.
• Bermudians who were “waiting for crumbs” will now “have a seat at the table to share the full meal”.
• The PLP Government believes in “ripple-effect” economics, not “trickle-down” economics.
• Governor John Rankin begins reading the Throne Speech.
• To loud cheers, PLP MPs are introduced one at a time to the crowd on Cabinet Grounds, beginning with new Mr Lister and Mr Burt. To polite applause, OBA MPs follow.
• New Government MP Tineé Furbert and new Opposition MP Ben Smith are dispatched to the Cabinet Grounds to collect the Black Rod.
• In the House of Assembly new Speaker Dennis Lister Jr takes his oaths of allegiance as the new Speaker of the House, flanked by his son, the new MP Dennis Lister III, and David Burt, the Premier.
He tells the House: “We must always represent the people. Thank you for this privilege.”
Other Government and Opposition MPs are sworn in at Sessions House, before making their way to Cabinet Grounds for the Throne Speech.
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