Radical reform of political system a goal for Starling
Independent candidate Jonathan Starling promises to be an advocate for social, environmental and economic justice if elected to Parliament.
His 17-page platform, which can be accessed at www.votestarling.com, includes far-reaching proposals for new parents, gender equality and reproductive rights.
Other proposed measures include the decriminalisation of drug use, restorative justice as a central plank of the justice system, and mandating open spaces for areas with a minimum population of 1,000.
Parental leave for at least 48 weeks, the costs of which would be split equally between Government and the employer, is one of Mr Starling’s “just society” proposals.
He also wants to see legislative changes which would double the amount of sick days for parents up until their child’s fifth birthday.
And employers with more than ten employees would be required to provide free on-site day care facilities for their staff.
Mr Starling is also proposing a social housing policy with tenants paying “geared-to-income” rents for 25 years after which they pay no rent, and mandating that all landlords bring their properties up to minimum housing standards or lose them to the state.
Junk food would be taxed and revenues used to subsidise the costs of healthy foods. Local food production would also be encouraged through the imposition of a carbon tax on imported produce and neighbourhoods would be provided with communal composting units.
And Mr Starling also wants to see radical reform in the political system.
Fixed-term elections, an electoral system which combines first-past-the-post with proportional representation and forcing by-elections for MPs who defect to another party are some of his proposals which he says would improve participatory democracy.
He would push for campaign finance rules through a Green Paper investigation into capping levels of campaign finance or abolishing private campaign financing in favour of public funding.
Mr Starling also believes that parish councils should be elected “with seats and budgets allocated according to population size” and that the Country should consider lowering the voting age to 16.
“All too often, the two-party system leads to tunnel-vision and to the sidelining of important issues and voices, all under the name of democratic centralism and party loyalty,” Mr Starling says in the platform.
“Too often this leads to decisions being made on the basis of special interests or by electoral calculations, instead of doing what’s right for our people and our Island home.
“I will work to remain a strong and independent voice for Bermuda, ensuring that social, economic and environmental justice issues are not silenced in our decision-making.”
Pembroke South West voters have three other candidates to choose from besides Mr Starling David Petty, independent; Susan Jackson of the One Bermuda Alliance and Marcus Jones of the Progressive Labour Party. All are first-run general election candidates.