Beaten Burt turns airport glare on Upper House
The Progressive Labour Party refuses to go quietly into the night on the airport redevelopment project and has now called on the public to flood senators with their concerns about LF Wade International being turned over for “privatisation”.
Parliamentarians debated until almost 4.30am today before the second reading of the Bermuda Airport Authority Act 2017 was passed by a vote of 18-16 and within an hour David Burt, the Leader of the Opposition, penned a press statement in which he all but authorised the 11 senators who make up the Upper House to have their inboxes bombarded and phones ringing off the hook.
“We are disappointed, yet not surprised, that the OBA government acted against the best interests of Bermudians by voting to privatise our airport for 30 years,” Mr Burt said. “This deal will send $2.4 billion of revenue to a Canadian company, while Bermudian taxpayers are burdened with a $586 million bill.
“This deal has been marked with questions and controversy from the very start. Since no members of the OBA back bench or the independent MP [are] willing to take a stand, the privatisation of Bermuda's airport is one step closer to reality.”
With voting expected to remain on party lines, independent senators Carol Ann Bassett and Joan Dillas-Wright, the president and vice-president respectively, and James Jardine are expected to come under the most scrutiny.
“The Senate now has a chance to weigh in and vote against the OBA's airport privatisation Bill that will weaken the country's finances,” Mr Burt added in his statement. “We urge all Bermudians opposed to the transfer of $2.4 billion in tax revenue to a Canadian company to contact senators to encourage them to bring a pause to the privatisation of our airport.”
Senate returns to session on Monday but the airport deal, although on the Order Paper, will not be debated as the Upper House gets through a raft of other legislation that had been put in abeyance owing to the disruptions that stemmed from December 2.
Also passed this morning, but without a vote required, was the Airport Redevelopment Concession Act 2017.
The Government's five senators are Jeff Baron, Michael Fahy, Georgia Marshall, Vic Ball and Lynn Woolridge, while the PLP's three are Kim Wilkerson, Renee Ming and Tinee Furbert.
• For the full PLP press statement and the Order Paper for Monday's Senate session, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”
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