Opinion: Premier On OBA’s Two Years In Office

December 19, 2014

[Opinion column written by Premier Michael Dunkley] Greetings Bermuda!

It has now been two years since the One Bermuda Alliance was elected to office.

Our goal from Day One has been to get Bermuda moving forward again –growing jobs and opportunities, restoring financial stability and making the Island work better for one and all.

We were elected, in short, to reverse downward trends that were hurting so many people.

We focused hard on laying the groundwork for recovery and renewal – rebuilding the foundation of the economy and restoring confidence in the Island as a place to invest and do business.

Economic recovery remains the primary focus because of its potential to improve the lives of more people more quickly than anything else, but we’ve also taken care to bring forward commonsense, progressive reforms to improve quality of life.

The just finished six-week Parliamentary session reflects our many-sided approach to the people’s business.

I was particularly pleased with amendments to the Children’s Act, which will help parents, who are separating, to remain involved in the upbringing of their children. Government must do what it can to ensure the well being of children and this legislation helps achieve that.

I am also pleased with the passage of new Fire Safety Regulations, which put in place a regime of standards and oversight that will keep Bermudians safer in their homes and businesses.

Also during the session, the Government announced the selection of a consultant to help develop a new regulatory regime for energy. This is a key step in our strategy to build toward an energy economy based on secure supplies, reduced fossil fuel dependency and lower costs through competition. A stable and affordable energy environment will help family life and help the Island to remain competitive in a very tough world.

We also amended legislation to allow for the use of approved cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, allowing doctors to introduce a new element to assist their patients. This was a good first step in a phased approach toward the commonsense reform of our cannabis laws.

We were also pleased to announce an extension of 10% discount Wednesdays through the holiday season – a measure that will provide continuing relief to the many families still struggling to make ends meet. The Minister responsible will have more to say on this matter in the days ahead.

Another step to help people – this time Bermuda’s cognitively and physically disabled – was made with the decision to merge the Opportunity Workshop and Orange Valley Centre into one operation. This will provide their clients with a full range of therapy services that were not otherwise available to them. It’s the kind of reform that did not get much notice but is one that will reap big everyday rewards for clients and caregivers alike.

As mentioned earlier, our efforts to get Bermuda’s economy working again has occupied much of our time, and I believe this last session of the House will stand as an historic turning point in that effort.

Virtually all of this work has been about creating jobs for Bermudians and setting the stage for a more secure future for all our people. Bermuda came close to the edge of economic disaster in recent years, and that close call has motivated our efforts to get the Island back onto safe ground.

In tourism, that meant not giving up on the industry; it meant energizing our approach to selling Bermuda’s great potential to investors and visitors alike. And this last Parliamentary session showed what that kind of commitment and can-do spirit can achieve.

Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell announced a start date in May for the first-phase construction of a St. Regis-Starwood resort at the St. George’s hotel site – a $120 million project that will create jobs and career opportunities for Bermudians.

Minister Crockwell’s simultaneous legislation to allow casino gaming in Bermuda was no mere coincidence, given that we wanted to use gaming to drive hotel development, enhance the tourism product and create new sources of employment for Bermudians.

Elsewhere, the session saw the Government provide a guarantee to enable the completion of first phase work at Morgan’s Point, ground-breaking for a new resort at Ariel Sands, and new construction and new jobs coming on line at the Hamilton Princess Hotel and South Beach in Southampton.

The announcement of a plan to rebuild Bermuda’s airport complements these developments and much more.

The Memorandum of Understanding Finance Minister E.T. Richards signed with the Canadian Commercial Corporation to build the airport sets the stage for a project that will create jobs for Bermudians and support the overall economy going forward.

The fact that we will do this without adding to our national debt represents an innovative approach to working around our financial difficulties while achieving something that will benefit the public for many years to come.

Perhaps nothing underscores the serious work that goes into the people’s business more than Bermuda winning the 2017 America’s Cup – an astonishing achievement by Bermudians from all sectors of Island life.

The announcement in New York followed by tabling of the America’s Cup legislation by my colleague Dr. Grant Gibbons cemented this Parliamentary session as historic and one of the most memorable in many, many years.

The accomplishments are a testament to what collaboration, confidence and commitment can achieve. They show us that working together works.

But big challenges remain. Many families continue to struggle and their well being remains our number one concern – getting them back on their feet, working again, putting food on the table. This Government will continue the forward push for their sake.

Thank you to all the people who are helping us out. Good things are finally starting to happen. At long last, the Island is starting to move forward again.

It is a good time to celebrate all that we have to be thankful for and the brighter future that’s taking shape.

Merry Christmas Bermuda.

- Michael Dunkley

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Comments (49)

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  1. Terry says:

    Well said Michael.
    This/these statements are paramount to all MP’S in the OBA working together with their advisers and making things move forward.
    Shalom.

    • Kunta says:

      What a waste of F@#%ing ……..

      • Common Sense says:

        Kunta beautifully sums up the value of his comment!

        • Kunta says:

          But when he says it its validated
          Classic example of two Bermuda’s
          SMFH

          • tired says:

            Unfortunately people like you desire for it to be two Bermuda’s. People full of hate like the leadership of my old party that you still hold on dear too!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Vixenstar says:

    Great synopsis. The public are often unaware of all the legislation that is processed.

  3. swing voter says:

    3 yrs to go….2000 jobs to create….gotta admit the most recent business activity looks promising.

    • Truth(Original) says:

      ..and that’s not counting jobs that have already been created.

      Bermuda is on MUCH better shape now than 2 years ago. It’s amazing how much can change in 2 years.

      • Claudio says:

        …is that counting the jobs we have lost as well?

        • serengeti says:

          Well, obviously not the 5,000 jobs lost under the last government.

        • Truth(Original) says:

          I’m not sure what you are saying. Are you blaming the massive job losses that we suffered on the OBA? i.e. since Dec 2012?

          or are you blaming them for what happened under the previous Govt?

    • Longtail says:

      ….and some will never like progress on promises made – so glad most Bermudians are not so negative-minded!

  4. campervan says:

    Thanks Mike for saving our bacon.
    Thanks to team OBA for working so hard to turn the fiscal mess around.
    Great job!

    (ps) Santa, for Christmas I would like the opposition to keep Mr. Bean as leader.

  5. cmbbda says:

    - Sonesta is being developed, so is Ariel Sands, Pink Beach, Hamilton Princess, a new Airport is coming, Morgans Point is being developed, America’s Cup is coming to Bermuda, Grand Atlantic will soon be a profitable business for tourists, $20M of cost overruns on Port Royal have been broughr to light = The OBA have done an amazing job in 2 years.

    A rising tide floats all boat. Thank you!!

    • flikel says:

      Comon, let’s be honest here as well.

      The decision to develop or redevelop Morgans Point, Ariel Sands, Hamilton Princess and Pink Beach began under the PLP.

      The OBA did not go out and obtain or secure these developments….plans and decisions were already made when they came into office.

      • Navin Johnson says:

        Flikel Ewart Brown came out a couple of times a year for 4 years announcing Club Med construction. He even guaranteed it would start shortly after the 2007 election…never happened…. I realize it is difficult to admit the total and abject across the board failure of the PLP but most acknowledge that it took the OBA to actually get things moving as no one would put any money in a PLP lead Bermuda….

        • Creamy says:

          Yep. The Grand Hyatt never broke ground because “financing went away”, according to Ewart.
          Go figure.

      • serengeti says:

        Um. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

        How many hotels and guest houses closed down under the PLP? Was it 70?

      • jt says:

        Are you suggesting actual movement on these developments would be taking place if the PLP were still governing?
        Comon…let’s be honest.

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        Most of these developments have been held in limbo for many years. Investment money does not like an inept unstable Government.

        It is a shame what those who are so blind cannot see.

        Face it. Nothing was going to happen under a PLP government. Vote the PLP back in 3 years time & watch everything come to a screaching halt again.

        • X man says:

          So long ad the OBA concentrates on rebuilding the economy and investments and leaves the
          common man to enjoy the fruits – then they should be ok.– start messin with a bunch of trivial stuff
          that only suits elements of the OBA base then there is a high potential for Govt.Change.– take it from a person who voted OBA.
          Later for all this trying to bust the Union Stuff, selling off the local services, Paying attention to Marc Beans nonsense,PRC’S,and the lot— concentrate on building the Ecconomy and getting people back to work as promised.
          Its best to make friends,- remember enemys get no votes.

  6. SMH says:

    Let’s follow the Premier’s lead on this. Everyone in Bermuda whether it be OBA, PLP, PRC, expat, needs to pull together and all work on the same team as one.

  7. Truth(Original) says:

    Great Job OBA ! Keep putting Bermudians first by rebuilding our economy. Thanks for all of your efforts and to all those investors who place their confidence in our little island !

  8. Mr Premier I am so glad that you feel so confident on what you see as major achievements by the O.B.A and their governance, but in reality we are yet to see major steps taken that assist the middle class suffrage taking place on a very high level across the board like never before, all the O.B.A has announced is mostly catering to the elite and not those in the middle class or lower, our future is looking more and more like a scary night mare. The haves will continue to have that which they have and more, the have not’s will suffer greater then ever thought, your group of professional thinkers are following a World view and doing away with the middle class and making it were you were everything is centered around the rich and foolish.

    All of the marina’s that are being approved and the ones that have recently been put on the table to be applied for, along with all the new developments of hotels promised, is catering to the elite, so when the fall out comes and most realize that this system is not geared or program for the majority but the minority in the elite class, who then benefits. Our future could be bright if the Government brought balance but you are no different then the last administration, politics or politrics, is the order of the day and it is those who hold the purse strings now that are screwing up just as bad as the last.

    I don’t envy your office or responsibility but I will say that you are at the top of the food chain and there are those on the mid section and at the bottom that just aint feeling you,good speeches don’t feed families, great writings by those who help to prepare you or others speeches, or even you writing and speaking from your heart, don’t employ Bermudans. You want to do your people a favor or a deed that goes a long way, get rid of these hamburger flipping and cleaning foreigners and drivers and delivery folk in here doing jobs that belong to us.

    There are many of us that hold you in the highest esteem and respect you as a fellow Bermudian, but also realize in order to remain in your post you have to try and do the balancing act, to try and keep all happy to some degree, but all I see is the satisfaction of the elite, your government has a lot to do if it is going to really get us sailing in the right direction and it starts with the largest group of your support, the middle class, lose us and you lose it all.

    • Navin Johnson says:

      Are the elite actually going to build the hotels and marinas? Get real dude

      • @ Navin Johnson, No the elite wont build the new developments, they will take on some Bermudians and many foreigners, just like when it is completed we will see the likes of more foreigners working in the establishments, especially the new casino’s that come with it, you think the gambling bill just past for no reason, let’s get real Mr. Dunkley and his crew is jumping to the beat of the business elite and their agenda and they have done everything to bend over backwards to accommodate them, like it or not it is a fix plan that do not have the middle class in mind.

        • Creamy says:

          The PLP screwed the middle class. We spent years saving up for a house, our biggest life investment, and the PLP gleefully ruined it. They built condos until no one wanted them. They drove renters out of the country until thousands of rental units were empty. They screwed the middle class. Thankfully the current government have more intelligence.

        • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

          i really hate to tell u this duane but NO GOVERNMENT cares about the lower class people… there is no more “middle class”, so you either have or you have not…i just hope that the unemployed people instead of sittin on their ***es waiting for all this employment which is about to pop off, i hope they are honing their skills, coz trust me , if you do not make the grade, the standard which is expected…unemployed they will stay. there are many requirements for these jobs…and NONE of them have “a must be bermudian” as a requirement, do you get what im saying ??

          if you’re not a billionaire then you are not an elite…just remember…you cannot even fathom what goes on in a billionaires life…and he doesn’t even care what goes on in yours.

          and before you cut them down…remember who owns ALL of this planets industries for which WE ALL depend on to get a dollar…what is theirs is theirs, what is yours is yours…focus on getting yours not theirs. don’t worry be happy.

    • Better for all says:

      Respectfully Mr. Santucci, please do tell us what the PLP actually did for the middle class during their time in power? Free buses? More jobs? Money in the bank for hard times? Less crime and shootings? The hard reality that you need to face and be 100% honest about is that life for the average lower and middle class Bermudian was much before the PLP than after and only now starting to improve again. The only who made off like bandits, literally, were the PLP elite and close friends and supports who were given millions and millions in contracts…for what? So you and I and generations after us, can be sold into financial slavery. Talk about rewriting history so you can get back to the trough

  9. watching says:

    What happened to Jetgate and the OBA first Premier Craig Cannonier having to resign in disgrace. The only Premier EVER that resigned due to bad dealings. Is that year and a half on the OBA Leadership Scale to be deleted?

    • aceboy says:

      LOL…still crowing about Jetgate? Too funny, after all the damage the PLP has done……

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Premier Cannonier was the only one who did the honourable thing under the circumstances.

      The have been plenty of examples in the not so distant past where the Premier, if he/she were an honourable person, would have resigned. However since these incidents were unethical if not entirely illegal the Premiers stayed put.

      Huge difference but given the characters of those Premiers, no surprise.

      • aceboy says:

        Exactly. The claims of “unethical but not illegal” spring to mind.

    • Terry says:

      Keep trolling “watching”.
      You got yours.

    • What it is says:

      Are you for real, worrying about a non-issue that cost the Country nothing ! Please ,,, TAKE THE BLINDERS OFF WOULD YOU!

  10. Terry says:

    great to see such positive comments.
    Makes feel like there is a light out there.
    Shalom.

  11. Special Coffee says:

    Can someone please spare a thought for the PLP?

    Remember them?

    Me neither!

  12. Unbelievable says:

    Has the PLP made an official statement on the America’s Cup yet?

  13. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    Many of our Seniors have been paying Vehicle License fee for over 50 years now, you could say that contribution was in the region of about $50K not with standing the fact that to day our roads are in a mess.

    The Progressive Labor Party gave seniors a break because we all have paid our dues over the years for that I am sure we seniors are most grateful.

    Hitting up the seniors to pay down this countries debt, which I will not live long enough to see happen,and my car will out last me
    this time, is a real cheep shot.

    Failure top control the cost of living does not help us much either.

    Continue 10 % on food for seniors would help.

    Our Politicians , even to set an example would not be seen in a class “A” vehicle .

    The One Bermuda Alliance comes along and hits us back again with auto tax for that I and many others got jilted.

    It is called the thin end of the wedge.

    All seniors over the years have contributed billions to the economy, we built this country ,now they want more.

    Enough is enough.

    For reasons of humble pride I can not tell what contributions I and we have made for this country.

    MONEY DOES NOT GROW ON TREES ,THE FRUITS OF OUR LABORS DOES.

  14. PANGAEA says:

    Is creating jobs is plan “A” ?

    All along i thought that reducing the cost of living and reducing the cost of a Visitors Vacation was plan “A”.

    I guess that multitasking is out of the question.

  15. Cafe Au Lait says:

    Kunta is correct – there are two Bermudas. The one for people who do something, and the one for people who do nothing.

    Note to Kunta: Luck = opportunity plus action.

    You make your own luck – or you just complain that you have none and blame it on the past.

    Good luck with that Kunta.

  16. more than enough says:

    The weak amendment in the cannibis legislature is disappointing. This phased approach is not sensible. Patients will be forced to buy these approved drugs, and all profits, save tax, are earmarked to leave bermuda into the coffers of gw pharmacueticals, or their rep. A barthwell’s bank account. I am pretty sure that most won’t be able to afford these proposed pharmacueticals, in particular the uninsured and the elderly, never mind the additional doctors visits and the costs involved.
    It is important to note that these pharmacueticals are not the ideal or most effective way of administering cannabis. Most effective are the smoking of ganja, and the injestion or topical use of whole plant extracts, which the patient or caregiver can produce themselves. Any form of reform should take this into acount.
    If you truly want to improve the lives of bermudians(all inclusive) I suggest that you denounce the present laws surrounding ganja, stop perpetuating the failed war on drugs, and supporting the black market activity created by said war. Allow for the wholesale, production and sale, and free trade in herb,that will facilitate all of our recreational and medical needs. This can simultaneously build the economy, and provide a low cost medical alternative.
    Despite the learned finance minister’s opinion, money does grow on trees…medicine too.

  17. Navin Johnson says:

    So the balance sheet reads…Jetgate $350,000 came into Bermuda..PLP $800,000,000 mysteriously disappeared out of Bermuda…do we really need to drone on about Jetgate Mr. Santucci really?

  18. PANGAEA says:

    WORK !
    There are many people who think that the Governments owes us some sort of a job , stop the dreaming. Why should my tax dollar provide people with a job ?

    To day we are all living in a different world in case you have not noticed it, our way of doing business has changed,we need to move with the times living in the past is no longer an option, with the advent of Computers ; Mass production ; Automation; and self service; the telephone
    and air travel and many more time ad money saving ideas .

    You got it , we have been replaced by a machine, your cell phone and car and your computer are machines all designed to put you out of work.

    Bermuda is, if you did not know it, is a service institution in which we are all required to play our part, there is virtually no manufacturing here which includes our neighbor across the pond every thing is based on the philosophy of BUY and SELL.

    An employer will only hire the best , 9 out of 10 of you will go home and feel a sense of utter worthlessness,it is just a test.

    ” Get over it “.

    The bad news is that we are living off the ” Thin skin of the rice pudding ” in order for that to happen at least 2 million has to change hands every day.

    Economics is a very complicated subject yet it remains the back bone of our society.

    Work ; Time and Money are all related yet their relationship are miles apart , what is the value of work or better still what is the value of time, it’s is all negotiable. However both time and money need the be carefully managed, Work has value.

    We are pricing ourselves out of the market.

    WORK, should be fun for which we hope to receive a reward!

    Now, I ask you, who amongst us is not playing their part ?

  19. Alvin Williams says:

    By the time the America’s cup takes place in Bermuda; a Cuba open to the American tourist market will completely overt shadow any benefit Bermuda is hoping to gain from being the host. Even the Bacardi group whose HQ is situated in Bermuda will seriously think of returning to their home in Cuba; after all home is where the heart is. All and all a Cuba competing for the American tourism market will finally give Bermuda a swift kick in the behind as far as it’s tourism product is concern which lacks the local component. When we think of the old Clay House Inn; Jungle room; the old 40 thieves; the Bermudian entertainment that use to be in the hotels before it was dismantle. We will soon discover that the best sales product to revive Bermuda’s tourism product is the Bermudian component. Maybe the OBA premier was given his speech before the news broke about the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States and it’s direct economic impact as far as tourism goes not only on Bermuda; but the Caribbean generally.