Full Text & Highlights: 2017 Throne Speech

September 8, 2017 | 25 Comments

Establish an Economic Diversification Unit, transform the ACBDA into the Bermuda Event Authority, establish a Bipartisan Committee on Immigration Reform, install wi-fi in schools, officially end conscription, decriminalise cannabis possession for amounts under 7 grams and invest in new buses, are some of the initiatives unveiled in this morning’s Throne Speech.

These were revealed as Governor John Rankin delivered the 2017 Throne Speech today, which lays out the Government’s plans for the upcoming year. The full speech is posted below along with some excerpts, and you can view our live blog of the Throne Speech here, and all our coverage of the 2017 Throne Speech here.

One-hour live video replay of the Throne Speech

Global Outreach

This Government will increase Bermuda’s outreach around the globe by staffing the empty Washington DC office and increasing engagement with the European Union in Brussels to ensure that Bermuda’s interests are represented as the United Kingdom leaves the EU.

Think Tank

The Government will re-establish the Bermuda First Think Tank, consisting of local and international business and community leaders, to produce a long-term economic and social plan for Bermuda.

Tax Reform Commission

In order to determine and create the fairest tax regime possible, the Government will create a Tax Reform Commission drawing participants from both political parties, international and local businesses, trade unions, and the Bermuda Bar.

Living Wage

To ensure that workers can live in dignity and are not working simply to remain in poverty, the Government will support a new Parliamentary Committee to complete the work that was started in the last parliament to examine the living wage. This committee will present Parliament with recommendations for implementing a living wage in Bermuda.

Economic Diversification

Bermuda’s economy is in desperate need of economic diversification as a means to provide additional jobs and careers for Bermudians. The Government will ensure that Bermuda is poised to meet new demands and will be aggressive in reaching out to new global areas of growth. Therefore, the Government will establish an Economic Diversification Unit to make progress on this urgent need.

ACBDA To Become Bermuda Event Authority

The Government will transform the ACBDA into the Bermuda Event Authority. This reformed body will build on the experience of hosting the America’s Cup. However, the new authority will be constituted to utilise a far more diverse and inclusive approach to finding, attracting and managing events.

Regulations For Debt Collection Agencies

Government will introduce regulations for debt collection agencies; regulate payday lenders who lend money at extraordinary interest rates; and bring banking, insurance and other financial service conduct under the umbrella of an updated Consumer Protection Act.

Price Control Commission

Government will grant the Price Control Commission additional powers and scope to find innovative ways to reduce the cost of living in Bermuda.

Bipartisan Committee on Immigration Reform

Government will establish a Bipartisan Committee on Immigration Reform comprised of MPs from both political parties who will engage in a consultative process with all stakeholders to develop both policy and legislation

Installation of Wi-Fi In Schools

In the last seven weeks, this Government has moved aggressively to fulfil its 100-day pledge to commence installation of Wi-Fi in public schools. When students of East End Primary School and Purvis Primary arrive at school next week, wireless 9 Internet will have been installed. The Government will complete the installation of Wi-Fi in all primary and middle schools by the end of the school year.

End Conscription

Government will amend the Defence Act 1965 in consultation with the Governor to officially end conscription to the Royal Bermuda Regiment within this legislative session

Decriminalisation of Cannabis

The criminalisation of our citizens for minor, non-violent possession of cannabis is an open sore on our society, damaging the lives of hundreds of Bermudians, young and old. This is also an issue of fairness, as black people in our society are far more likely to be arrested, charged and convicted for cannabis possession than white people. Given the dire consequences of a conviction for simple non-violent drug possession, the Government will decriminalise cannabis possession for amounts under seven (7) grams.

Parliament

To ensure Parliament remains relevant and responsive to the people, the Government will implement three measures to enhance the standard of governance.

First, the Government will establish and implement a Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians. The seat of democracy in Bermuda demands nothing less than full adherence to behaviour and standards that are becoming of the people’s representatives.

Second, the Government will implement the SAGE Commission’s recommendation to establish three Parliamentary Oversight Committees to reduce waste, improve governance, and increase efficiency.

Third, the Government will amend Parliamentary Rules to introduce Premier’s Question Time whereby Members of the House of Assembly can question the Premier about government policies.

Mobile App For Government Announcements

To improve communications to residents, the Government will produce a mobile application for government announcements and notices. Instead of paying high-priced IT consultants, the Government will work in collaboration with the Bermuda College to have students build this app.

This opportunity to engage in practical work will provide real-world experience to our students, and will provide benefit to the College as any application developed can be licensed to other governments worldwide.

Anti Gang Measures

The Government will appoint a Gang Violence Reduction Coordinator with a singular focus on implementing programmes to reduce violence and anti-social behaviour.

Additionally, the Government will provide financial support to Bermudians who wish to break from their dependence on gangs to return to school to learn a trade or achieve their GED.

Financial Assistance

The Government will undertake a review of the Financial Assistance Programme. This review will require able-bodied unemployed persons who are receiving assistance to upgrade their education and skills to facilitate their return to the workforce.

Financial Assistance should encourage people to find work; therefore, people who take a part-time position will not find themselves penalised. This Government will reform Financial Assistance to reduce abuse, discourage dependency, and ensure that work pays.

Sex Offenders

When sex offenders have been tried and convicted, to help prevent the tragedy of sex crimes being repeated, the Government will selectively release information pertaining to sex offenders to members of the public. Offenders and the disclosure of their information will be managed according to the risk they pose to the public.

New Buses

In order to increase reliability of published routes, to instil confidence in the service, and to reduce overtime paid to repair ageing buses, the Government will invest in new buses and will immediately fill six vacant maintenance positions.

The full Throne Speech is below [PDF here]:

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Comments (25)

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  1. Freshair Fiend says:

    “regulate payday lenders who lend money at extraordinary interest rates”

    I was not aware Bermuda had any payday lenders – is this a way of saying they are hoping to allow it?

  2. sage says:

    Decrim in 2017 is a joke, de-schedule the plant and repeal the misuse of drugs act and immediately abandon the failed war on some drugs and some of the people who use them.

  3. bda says:

    “However, Bermuda will only do better when all segments of our society work together to ensure that Bermuda becomes more fair, more just and more equitable.”

    LOL, as long as you’re not gay.

  4. dae says:

    anti progressive anti equality

    • bda says:

      Racist, homophobic, bigoted and hypocritical…..do they know they’ll have to drop their British accents if they force independence on us?

  5. Zevon says:

    Their 100- day pledge was to install wifi in schools in 100 days. They broke that already. Now it’s “within a year”. Jokers.

    • Compare and Contrast says:

      I’m doing a compare and contrast of the documents and you may be off a tad. The 100 day pledge was to “commence installation”.

      That jumped out to me as well because I thought it was to complete installation as well, so I specifically checked that and found that I was incorrect.

      • Meh says:

        If anyone doesn’t think that deal was done pre election then they are lying to themselves.

      • Ringmaster says:

        So the good news is the PLP are well under way to their Vision 2025 manifesto. Good news that Bermudians only have to wait 8 years for the PLP to be able to actually produce something to help Bermudians. Lucky Bermudians have patience.

  6. 2025 plan says:

    When do we start printing out own money?

  7. 2025 plan says:

    *our

  8. Delaey Robinson says:

    This 2017 Speech from the Throne is easily the most progressive ever heard by me in my short 70 years and possibly the most progressive Bermuda has ever heard.  It gives rise to hope where hope is most needed in Bermuda.  It is filled with promise that all of us should want to help see fulfilled.   Its an ‘at last’ speech from the throne, it  reminds one of 1998.  It has the courtesy to speak directly to our youth rather than just talking about them and will provide opportunities for them to feel a part; a nurturing speech from the throne.  It heartwarmingly and boldly tackles real issues which should have been dealt with decades ago, striking a blow to obesity with a tax on added sugar, every penny of which raised in revenue should be offset by equal subsidies on good food.  We cannot expect people less well off to pay more for sugar and still face prices they cannot afford for good food, which attracts no customs duty now and needs to be subsidised to be affordable.   It ‘at last’ addresses a grossly unfair and de facto racist piece of legislation that has laid waste to so many young black lives and which we knew upon the publication of the Archibald Report was wrong: all social strata were involved with cannabis but only black youth were incarcerated.
    This speech may come to be judged by how well it deals with the most difficult challenges that it does not shy away from, the simply monstrous income gap, the pernicious gender gap and the ever present won’t go away race issues.  

    Citizens who want to see Bermuda and this Labour government with a most progressive agenda succeed, must be willing to roll up sleeves and work beside the government to achieve these noble ends.  

    The  Bert government has certainly put PROGRESSIVE back into the PLP.

    • Ringmaster says:

      Yes, great sounding promises but the PLP had 14 years between 1998 and 2012 to have accomplished most but did not. Why not, what has changed apart from an apparent wish to help ordinary Bermudians rather than a select few. That says a lot about the PLP as a party to benefit Bermudians. Your comment regarding cannabis is on topic, but in the past the PLP said they couldn’t do it because of the Church vote. What has changed? If they go ahead to decriminalize they also need to wipe the slate clean for anyone with a prior conviction. Otherwise it still leaves hundreds if not thousands with the blemish the PLP want to avoid.

      What was missing was the meat and bones, the difficult part. How to pay for all the promises, and at the same time balance the current account deficit of around $130m a year. My own opinion is that there will be a great disappointment within a year or so because none of the promises will have been fulfilled, and cannot be fulfilled. The people have been lied to in the past, and nothing will change.

    • cpm says:

      Whatever the OBA tried to do in the last parliament was obstructed every step by the plp
      Now you are cleaning schools to make sure there is no critiscism of this Government and you are suggesting we get together to help the noble end
      plp in power
      There will be no mold in schools
      There will be no union unrest or conflict
      There will be no marches from TPC
      Tweed will get status

    • Young and wild and free says:

      Doesn’t matter what tune they play from the box. You just enjoy watching the PLP dance don’t you? Typical stanch follower rhetoric. Sugar doesn’t create obesity, carbs do. Carbs found in natural foods like potatoes, corn and bread.

      Your generation will continue to gas up this government and the Mickey Mouse policies they introduce.

  9. bda says:

    “….ever present won’t go away race issues.”

    because of racists, like yourself.

  10. bda says:

    “The Bert government has certainly put PROGRESSIVE back into the PLP.”

    LOL. Ignorance is bliss!

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