Full Text, Video & Highlights: 2015 Throne Speech

November 13, 2015

Governor George Fergusson delivered the 2015 Throne Speech this morning [Nov 13], which lays out the Government’s plans for the upcoming year, with the speech revealing a number of initiatives planned for the coming year. The full speech is posted below as well as some extract highlights, and you can view our live blog of the Throne Speech here, and all our coverage of the 2015 Throne Speech here.

Banning Dark Visors

The Government will introduce legislation to ban dark helmet visors. The aim of the legislation will be to minimise and ultimately eliminate the use of dark visors. A ban will help law enforcement by removing an article that has been used by criminals, sometimes in the commission of violent crime, to hide their identity. Steps for the implementation of a ban will follow consultations with stakeholders. Public safety is a Government priority and a dark visor ban will contribute to a safer, more secure Bermuda.

Vote In Absentia

The Government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs, will introduce amendments to the Parliamentary Elections Act 1978 to permit all registered voters studying abroad at recognised educational institutions to have the right to vote in absentia.

Conscription

The long awaited Defence Act will be tabled and debated this Session. The Act will prescribe a sensible path to end conscription and create a modern system of discipline for the Royal Bermuda Regiment.

CCTV

The expansion of the Island’s CCTV network has aided in early crime detection and enhanced the investigation of crime. To further strengthen this policing resource, the Government will provide funding for the expansion of the CCTV network to Dockyard as part of the infrastructure in support of increased activity in this area. The Town of St. George’s will be included in this expansion in support of the existing policing footprint in the east end.

Gazetting Notices Online

The current process of ‘gazetting’ Government notices is costly for government and cumbersome for members for the public searching for notices. As a result, the Government will table legislation allowing for notices to be gazetted electronically – a cost-saving measure that will see government notices available on the Internet and searches becoming more convenient for members of the public.

New Government Website

In the second quarter of 2016, the Government will launch a new website to replace the website at www.gov.bm. The new website, which will contain government information and services, has been designed to link visitors to the information they need in no more than three clicks.

New Bathrooms

The Ministry will also construct bathroom facilities at Shelley Bay Field in Hamilton Parish and White Hill Field in Sandys, two of the most widely used recreation areas in Bermuda

Education

A Career and Vocational-Technical STEM programme will be developed for September 2016, opening more school-to-career options in trades and STEM, which refers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The Department of Education and Bermuda College will partner to establish the first phase of a Teaching and Learning STEM Centre for teachers and students. STEM is also being introduced at the early childhood to primary levels using outdoor environments to develop inquirybased learning.

To ensure non-English speaking students get the quality education afforded all students, the Ministry of Education will expand curriculum and support services to include an English Language Learners [ELL] programme. To continue the process of strengthening and improving parent and community involvement in public schools, the Ministry will introduce a Parent Involvement Committee to develop a strategy for the Public School system

Human Rights Protections.

To make life in Bermuda more fair and more inclusive, the Government will bring forward amendments to the Human Rights Act to expand human rights protections. The Government holds that, to the extent possible, people who suffer from mental disability or impairment should not be discriminated against in employment, accommodation or the procurement of goods and services. It will therefore introduce an amendment adding mental disability as a protected ground under the Human
Rights Act.

The Government will also introduce amendments to outlaw discrimination based on the printed word. A recent Human Rights Commission Tribunal concluded that online conversations and comments could not be allowed as evidence of discrimination because written material does not fall within the meaning of “notice, sign, symbol, emblem or representation” under the 1981 Human Rights Act.

The Government, therefore, will amend the Act to include written content such as words, articles and statements as a protected ground against discrimination. A further amendment is intended to prohibit the publication of racist material and racial incitement by expanding the Act’s definition of “publish or display” to include recorded telephone discussions, internet, emails recorded in print or recorded on the internet, radio, television or any other electronic medium of communication.

The Government also intends to clarify and expand the definition of a public place under the Human Rights Act. In cases where threatening, abusive or insulting words are used to promote or incite hostility against a member of the public distinguished by factors like colour, race, ethnicity or national origin, the definition of a public place will refer to both indoor and outdoor public places.

The full 2015 Throne Speech is below [PDF here]:

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Comments (22)

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  1. Triangle Drifter says:

    Vote in abstentia

    Why is this limited to students? There are Bermudians who spend significant lumps of time abroad but reside in Bermuda the majority of the year who could be denied the vote because there is only a small window of time between calling an election & election day.

    What happened to the promise of fixed term/fixed date elections as promised by the OBA?

    • Vixen Star says:

      No rush to roll that out….the next election isn’t until 2017

    • I understand your points but would like to point out that with fixed term elections we would end up with the very American style of perpetual electioneering. With the way we do it now we at least only have to deal with it for weeks, not years. Personally, I prefer it that way and think it works relatively well.
      As for the absentee voting, people who come and go have the option of returning when an election is announced. I believe the window you refer to is six weeks. Not exactly the blink of the eye. They have a flexibility that students don’t have. It may not be convenient for people residing overseas to have to come back when they don’t want to but they can. It might be expensive as well but they still have the option. It is an option students don’t have if they are in term time or fulfilling between term course obligations.
      We should also perhaps look at giving Bermudians who are gainfully employed full time overseas the right to vote in absentia. They, like the students, can’t just up and return but surely still have an interest in the affairs of their home country.

      • Strike fund says:

        Electioneering for weeks not years.

        Do you live here?

      • Mike Hind says:

        We’ve been dealing with perpetual electioneering since the mid-90s…

  2. Mano says:

    Bs..oba must go

    • Ann says:

      what would you suggest replaces it? certainly not the PLP

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      You are right. The OBA, though not perfect, produce a Government that is much too stable. Boring even. No weekly scandals.

    • Onion Juicer says:

      Onion Juice…is that you again? Time for your meds

    • swing voter says:

      is that the best you can do….you remind me of the idiots that blind pilots with lazer toys, just for ‘fun’

  3. watching says:

    Very underwhelming.
    the OBA is bankrupt on ideas to benefit the average person where it really matters.

    • Strike fund says:

      At least they didn’t bankrupt the average person like the PLP. Or maybe you missed the latest comments from the AG.

  4. Fsbod says:

    Can we just end conscription? We are not Russia or North Korea.

    It’s a waste of time and taxpayers money. You are paying me to sit around and wear a uniform.

  5. Tony Brannon says:

    You will all be pleased to hear that the government, in today’s throne speech, have pledged to build new toilets. This is a milestone event for the island. I’m so proud of them!

    MEANWHILE the HUMAN RIGHTS of SAME SEX COUPLES was completely ignored…..
    This is neanderthal people.

    • sage says:

      Are you LBGTQ folk not a little happy to know people suffering from mental disabilities will finally receive equal rights under the law, rights, aside from marriage, the LBGTQ community got a year or two ago? Two words and a comma was quite selfish in essense, didn’t give a rats a$$ about anybody else’s rights really. My advice to same sex couples is get married and force the government, through the courts, to accept it since discrimination against LBGTQ is illegal.

      • Mike Hind says:

        Focusing on one issue does not, in any way, mean they “didn’t give a rats a$$ [sic] about anyone else’s rights really.” Come on. Movements focus on issues. Calling one “selfish in essense” and not giving a rats ass about others” is not only ridiculous, it’s completely incorrect. Unless you’re saying that EVERY movement is “selfish in essense”. Are you?

        No one is saying that it’s not great that people with disabilities will now have protections.

        It’s the “aside from marriage” part that sticks in the craw, as well as the fact that this Government decided to not address it while crowing about their equal rights achievements.

        • sage says:

          “You will all be pleased to hear that the government, in today’s throne speech, have pledged to build new toilets. This is a milestone event for the island. I’m so proud of them!

          MEANWHILE the HUMAN RIGHTS of SAME SEX COUPLES was completely ignored…..
          This is neanderthal people.” I’m not picking up on any empathy towards fellow humans who have been promised inclusion under human rights legislation in the future. “No one is saying that it’s not great that people with disabilities will now have protections.” Nor are they saying it is great either, it simply means nothing to some one track minded folk. Also “two words and a comma’ gave no consideration to any one other than LGBTQ, often referring to gay rights as the “last bastion” of civil rights.

  6. You will all be pleased to hear that the government, in today’s throne speech, have pledged to build new toilets. This is a milestone event for the island. I’m so proud of them!

    MEANWHILE
    Human Rights for Same Sex Couples was ignored.
    Bermuda is out of touch.

    • Kangoocar says:

      Tony, you didn’t honestly think ANY Bermuda political party wants to deal with that subject did you??? That hot potatoe will be ignored by BOTH the OBA and PLP!!! Have you not noticed the plp have said nothing on that matter and the OBA because they are the government were forced to pay only lip service!!! Politicians have NO backbone, they never have and they never will???

      • jt says:

        Look at the number of comments on today’s headlines. Far and away dark visors generated the most concern. The Auditor Generals report gets the least. And we wonder why we find ourselves in the position we are in. Truly remarkable.

  7. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    101 + Things were conveniently ignored this year , I don’t see many happy faces, I guess, partly because of company take – overs.

    Fix the economy and lower the taxes, which as you know has a strangle hold on the population, this also is inclusive or our visitors who say Bermuda is very expensive it is all because of taxation and import duties.The islands to the South are laughing at us, Bermuda is a year round Anglo / American seaside place. Here is a hint try Marketing.

    The cost of fuel drops we saw no appreciable change in our economy, people are still out of work……….. Not Toilets , Hotels/ guest houses.

    The Wall Street theory ,You might consider tailoring the tax system on par with the economy, the Big banks and Insurance companies did well in 2015, you bet .

    Why are we the ones who suffer as you still get your pound of fish.

    I go with out lunch so you can party at the Princess.

    • jt says:

      Less restrictions on business and increase our resident population for a start. Some of that is in here. Don’t expect taxes to drop though. The CS/unions and the debt need feeding.

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