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Opposition must share blame for cruise ship doldrums David Burt

The Opposition should accept its share of the blame for difficulty attracting cruise ships to Bermuda, Government Senator David Burt claimed yesterday.

The Junior Finance Minister spoke in response to One Bermuda Alliance leader Craig Cannonier’s claim the cancellation of the Veendam’s visits from 2013 has plunged the Island’s cruise business into “shocking, sudden crisis”.

Sen Burt argued two years ago the United Bermuda Party had thwarted former Premier Ewart Brown’s attempts to revitalise the cruise industry by allowing them to operate casinos in port. Speaking during the Senate’s Throne Speech debate, Sen Burt described the blocking of the Prohibition of Gaming Machines Amendment Act 2009 as “a short-sighted political decision”.

Seven Progressive Labour Party MPs had also voted against Dr Brown’s legislation, but Sen Burt said of the Opposition: “They assisted in its defeat because if the Opposition had supported it, it would have passed.”

He said the West End Development Corporation, Chamber of Commerce and Business Bermuda all supported the law change, which was fiercely opposed by anti-gambling groups such as the church community.

“At that time, the cruise ships said their revenue projects were not being met,” said Sen Burt.

“We were warned about it in 2009. You opposed what the Government was trying to do to stop this from happening. Decisions that we make just to score political points that are not in the best interests of the Country will have repercussions that harm this Country.”

OBA Senator Toni Daniels raised a point of order to say Sen Burt was referring to the actions of the UBP, adding: “It’s nothing to do with the Opposition as it stands now or indeed our position.”

Sen Burt replied that OBA Senators Michael Dunkley and Michael Fahy were both in the UBP at that time, as were most of the OBA’s MPs. Sen Fahy said: “For a Government bill to be defeated in the House, it requires Government members to vote against it.”

Sentator David Burt

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Published November 24, 2011 at 9:12 am (Updated November 24, 2011 at 9:12 am)

Opposition must share blame for cruise ship doldrums David Burt

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