Senator ‘humbled’ by swearing in process
Social justice, pensions and health policy are high on the agenda for incoming senator Andrew Simons.
Mr Simons was sworn in, replacing Georgia Marshall, during yesterday morning's sitting of the Senate.
He gave his Affirmation Of Allegiance, and Carol Ann Bassett, president of the Senate, thanked Ms Marshall for her “expertise, presence and service to Bermuda”.
Mr Simons was the One Bermuda Alliance candidate in February 2016 for the by-election in Devonshire North Central, which was won by the Progressive Labour Party's Diallo Rabain.
He gave thanks to the Premier for having the confidence to appoint him, Ms Marshall of her guidance as well as his spouse and family members for their support.
Speaking to this newspaper shortly after the announcement, Mr Simons said: “It has been a humbling process. I think by canvassing in those constituencies and working behind the scenes, coupled with the responsibility that comes with being a candidate, I have been able to advance with certain ideas.
“I have spent the bulk of my time over the last few years serving on a number of boards and progress is slow but you do see meaningful change. I have spent a lot of time on the Health Council and you can see there is much greater enforcement of the health insurance laws requiring employers to provide health insurance. That is one example of other areas of policy I have worked in.
“Social justice issues often motivate people to get into public service. There are many problems that money alone cannot solve because there will always be a limited budget — even in a rich country at some point you have to make choices.
“I am thankful for the appointment to the Senate. I just hope to use it to improve things.”
Mr Simons also spoke about the importance of joined-up thinking among government departments as well as the importance of an open government.
He said: “I like the details of public policy and how we can make the health system work better.
“In the coming months you can expect me to talk about questions of pension policy and health policy and how we can have some joined-up thinking on subjects such as finance, health and social services.
“I am hugely interested in open government which is a subject that goes beyond just the Pati request process but an idea that as much information can be shared with the people and made accessible.”
Ms Marshall released a statement to the press to say: “I have been very grateful for the opportunity to serve my country and the OBA as a senator and hope I have made a positive contribution.
“The Premier and the OBA continue to have my full support. I believe Bermuda is going in a positive direction and all the economic indicators show that the policies of the OBA government are working for the benefit of all Bermudians.”
The Premier added: “I first want to say how much I appreciate Georgia's contribution to the public life of Bermuda and to the party. She possesses a keen intellect and compassionate spirit, which she brought to bear in the Senate and in our discussions to advance progressive reform on issues affecting everyday lives.
“Georgia served well for two years and it is my hope she continues to play a role in public life because Bermuda can only benefit from her commitment.
“As Premier and Party Leader, I believe it is important to use the Senate as a platform to introduce new perspectives and experience to the issues we face as a community.
“In that regard, I take this opportunity to announce that Mr Andrew Simons has accepted my invitation to join the OBA Senate team.”