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Premier shuffles Cabinet

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Premier Paula Cox has shaken up her Cabinet by promoting former United Bermuda Party leader Wayne Furbert and the Progressive Labour Party’s youngest MP Marc Bean.

Mr Furbert, a UBP MP for two terms and leader in 2006/07 before crossing the floor 18 months ago, is the new Minister of Business Development and Tourism.

Mr Bean, 37, an MP since winning the Warwick South Central by-election last December, is the Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure.

Ms Cox confirmed Terry Lister and Neletha Butterfield have been axed as she yesterday announced a string of changes marking her first anniversary as Premier at a Government House swearing-in ceremony.

One of the most significant switches sees Senator Kim Wilson resume her former role as Attorney General following a year as Economy Minister.

Michael Scott, promoted to AG a year ago, is moved to the less key Ministry of Government Estates and Information Services, which was held by Ms Butterfield until this week.

Sen Wilson’s former Economy position has gone to Patrice Minors, whose Tourism job is taken by Mr Furbert.

Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess moves into Mr Lister’s Transport Ministry, with Walter Roban, formerly Environment Minister, taking over the reins at Mr Burgess’ former Ministry of Public Works.

Mr Furbert’s elevation was a major talking point within PLP circles yesterday, with a number of backbenchers said to be disappointed to lose out to a former leader of the party’s oldest rival.

Some party members said Mr Furbert had not yet earned his dues, with others arguing he brings more experience to Ms Cox’s team.

One member said: “He was leader of the party that working class people thought held them back. More than anything, this move shows how little difference there is between all the political parties’ ideologies these days.”

Another said: “I think that most members have seen the contribution he has made, the support he has in his constituency and the experience he brings to the table.

“While there will always be those who may feel he will never earn his dues, most members have gotten to know him as a person, as a hard worker and someone who has much to contribute.”

Ms Cox said: “I think Mr Furbert has crossed over to the PLP Government and has certainly been a worker and advocate as a member of Government. He has skills to bring to the table.”

Mr Lister spoke of his surprise at his demotion (see separate story), while Ms Butterfield did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

However, colleagues said Ms Butterfield had grown weary following her lengthy battle with Junior Finance Minister David Burt in Pembroke West Central, which numerous sources said had been an ugly scrap.

The long-serving Minister is said to have felt the party hierarchy was pushing her aside to make way for younger blood.

Mr Bean said of his appointment: “It’s just another step in fulfilling my life purpose.”

He vowed to bring a fresh perspective as Government attempts to bring Bermuda through troubled times.

“As a Country, we are actually falling into the proverbial hurricane,” said Mr Bean.

“My responsibility now is to help the Premier and the Cabinet and Government safely navigate out of unchartered waters.

“I have a responsibility to think differently, be more innovative and creative and, most importantly, just be myself.”

The Premier said of Mr Bean: “He’s our youngest MP and has a background in energy and fisheries, and he’s bright. I believe he will add value and give added depth to the Cabinet team.”

Ms Cox had signalled her intentions in recent days by promising bold moves after recognising weaknesses within the party.

Yesterday, she told this newspaper the imminent opening of the new Parliamentary session was an opportunity to take stock and see how her Cabinet could be strengthened.

Further changes are expected today as a Government Senator is appointed to replace LaVerne Furbert.

Responding to the news of the Cabinet changes, Thad Hollis, One Bermuda Alliance chairman, said in a statement: “Cabinet shuffles are generally made for one of two reasons: (1) to put a stronger team in place for the sake of the country and its people or (2) to shore up a political leader’s position among her colleagues.

“The Premier’s Cabinet shuffle earlier today appears to have been done for the second reason, not the first. There is no obvious overarching principle that reflects a new Government commitment to meet people’s needs and to get Bermuda working again. There is no clear theme other than the dictates of the Premier, in this instance the need to build up internal support for her leadership.”

Kim Swan, elected for the United Bermuda Party in 2007, acknowledged that he had already offered congratulations to the new Cabinet Ministers Mr Bean and Mr Furbert.

He said: “My former UBP Leader who is now the PLP’s Tourism Minister, Wayne Furbert, must hit the ground running. [He] has a real opportunity to move Bermuda in a better direction if he is able to convince his colleagues of the importance to consider and implement a Tourism Authority for Bermuda.

“Personally, my colleague (Charlie Swan) and I are prepared to continue to offer solutions and constructive criticism to help the Government of the day move our country forward.

“As the St George’s Member it is my duty to encourage the Tourism Minister to cast a discerning eye to the plight of St George’s and help us get the St George’s Golf Course be properly maintained and professionally operated. In addition, I direct the Tourism Minister’s attention to the George Hotel and Marina proposal a project that can help breathe life into our World Heritage Town.

“If Minister Furbert can encourage his Government colleagues to embrace a tourism authority he can be the catalyst to usher in a new period for tourism in Bermuda.”

New Minister Marc Bean with his family members.(Photo by Akil Simmons)
New Environment Minister Marc Bean is seen with Premier Paula Cox and his fiance Simone Smith at his appointment at Government House. Photo by Akil Simmons
Premier Paula Cox.(Photo by Akil Simmons)
Derrick Burgess Deputy Premier, Dame Jennifer Smith and Minister Walter Roban. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Premier Paula Cox. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
New Ministers: Marc Bean and Wayne Furbert(Photo by Akil Simmons) November 2,2011

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Published November 03, 2011 at 10:00 am (Updated November 03, 2011 at 10:02 am)

Premier shuffles Cabinet

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