2011 OBA Reply to the Throne Speech – Part Eight – Summary of Policy Positions

In the last several posts I’ve reviewed and critiqued the 2011 OBA Reply to the Throne Speech. While it’s certainly over a year late, in the absence of the OBA producing clearer positions, I feel it is necessary to look at what they have said previously, in the Throne Speech Reply and the 2012 Budget (my review on it is forthcoming!).

I feel this is important as the OBA is frequently criticised for being ‘bereft’ of ideas, and they have recently tried to counter that charge by themselves revisiting the positions they have taken in the 2011 Throne Speech Reply and 2012 Budget Reply. With an election upcoming, it is useful overall to review the policy positions of those Parties which will be contesting it.

A summary of the policy positions the OBA took in their 2011 Reply to the Throne Speech is below:

– Extend the advance poll for those who are travelling;

– Establish absentee ballots for students living abroad;

– Introduce ‘measures to bring a greater level of accountability to the political process than we have today.’

– ‘We will give people the opportunity to initiate referenda on major issues of the day.’

– Right to recall of MPs;

– Introduce fixed-term elections;

– Strengthen Parliamentary Committees;

– Hearings will be open to the public and the press;

– Invite a member of the Opposition into Cabinet;

– Create a Contractor General, independent of Government, to ‘oversee Government projects, from tendering to completion, to ensure rules and guidelines are strictly enforced and to identify unfair practices or offensive conduct.’

– Strengthen the Public Accounts Committee (working with the Auditor General and the proposed Contractor General);

– Eliminate the employee portion of payroll taxes for employees earning less than $50k a year.

– Require Government to pay its bills in no more than 30 days.

– Grant employers a two-year payroll tax exemption for new hiring.

– Reform and fast-track the Planning process.

– Eliminate the licensing requirement for non-Bermudian spouses for the purchase of property.

– Suspend the current term limit policy for a period of two years pending a search for a new policy;

– Set up a Spending & Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission to streamline Government processes, improve delivery of services, make Government more efficient, more cost-effective, more transparent and more user-friendly;

– Freeze the size of the civil service and reduce it through attrition;

– Cut consultants and frequent travel;

– Cut Ministerial pay;

– Divert more resources and energy to the selling of Bermuda (for IB);

– Look at replicating a ‘concierge service’ as practiced in the Isle of Mann and Malta, to actively shepherd our international customers through government services;

– Equip police with resources and [the] support they need;

– Full-time presence of Parish Constables in our neighbourhoods;

– Equip police with advanced technologies, such as shot spotters (these triangulate position of gunshots);

– Develop an expanded CCTV system staffed 24hrs a day;

– Ensure an effective electronic tagging programme;

– Strengthen the police presence on the roads;

– Activate more speed cameras;

– Support the Government measures to expand the use of breathalysers, increase penalties for drink driving and impose DUI education for all disqualified drivers;

– A fully integrated technical curriculum;

– Expanded preschools;

– A serious commitment to professional development for teachers and principals;

– An independent standards board to restore trust in educational testing results;

– A longer school day to provide more time for sports, music, arts and remedial support;

– More effective discipline methods pioneered in charter schools;

– Plan to consider a single-sex school for boys;

– Significant investment in health promotion is essential to reverse trends in obesity and diabetes;

– Increased mandatory time in physical education at all schools and expanded mandatory nutritional education;

– Reopen the Medical Clinic (accessible, central and part of the Bermuda Hospital Complex);

– Amend the Human Rights Act to eliminate age discrimination;

– Legislate changes to FutureCare and HIP to make them fair, affordable and sustainable;

– Fees for FutureCare will be the same for all clients and all will receive the same benefits;

– A health insurance plan ‘will be created that will not bankrupt the country’;

– Up-front payments for medical treatment will be addressed for doctors, dentists and specialists;

– Immediate legislation of providing Financial Assistance to seniors owning their own home;

– More affordable beds for seniors in nursing homes;

– Address neglect and abuse of seniors in nursing homes;

– Introduce legislation to bring Residential Care Homes in line with best practices;

– Set up a Tourism Authority ‘with the goal of turning our tourism industry into a growing industry.’

– A goal to produce 20% of our required energy production from renewables by 2026;

– ‘Plans’ to upgrade and expand our parks;

– Provide concessions to businesses and individuals committed to ‘green solutions’;

– Develop and support our agricultural and fishing industries;

– Replace the sheds at Marsh Folly that currently serve as a homeless shelter with a facility to properly serve those in need;

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