Contribution by Senator the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs
Resolution thanking Governor General for Speech from The Throne
4th June 2012
Madam President, with your permission I start by thanking Almighty God whose grace and mercy has me and all of us in this place this morning. I thank the people who worked so closely with and on the Coordination Team to run a 21st century election campaign that captured the hearts and minds of Bahamians. Bahamians understand that the PLP is the party of the people. History will reflect that their support was so overwhelming that FNM was seeing holograms!
I also thank the Honourable Prime Minister, Perry Gladstone Christie for reposing confidence in me by appointing me for the second time to the Constitutional high office of the Attorney General. And I thank my family for supporting me in giving national service. Madame President, I rise to propose a motion [READ MOTION].
I again congratulate you Madam President upon your assumption of this high office – this is the second time in your illustrious career of public service that you have served as President of the Senate. History will reflect that you are the first woman to serve twice as President of the Senate and the second woman to serve as President of the Senate. When you previously served, it was unanimously agreed that the hallmark of your service was fairness. I thank you in advance for the fairness that you will bring to our deliberations.
Also Madam President, I wish to take this opportunity to thank your immediate predecessor, former Senator the Honourable Lynn Holowesko for the service that she gave The Bahamas as President to the Senate and to wish her well in her future endeavours.
As I commence my contribution, I want to note for the record that His Excellency the Governor General, Sir Arthur Foulkes is a distinguished Bahamian son. His contribution to Majority Rule must never be forgotten. We pray for his continued good health and that of Lady Foulkes.
Today, I assure the Bahamian people that our nation’s Constitutional Proclamation of “an abiding respect for Christian Values and the Rule of Law” will always be in the forefront of my mind and that I will use every fiber of my being to successfully re-implement Swift Justice. I ask every person within our borders to join me on this journey. We will be making announcements about the reimplementation Swift Justice later this week.
In this place I hold the position that my late Father, Sir Clement Maynard Kt., held in January 1967. We on this side pledge to work as hard as those 1967 Majority Rule Senators and all subsequent PLP Senators did to build a new Bahamas.
Madam President, Bahamians on 7th May 2012 gave the PLP and our Leader, the Prime Minister, Perry Gladstone Christie, a mandate to effect 21st century far-reaching change. This is an awesome mandate. We will serve with humility and we will be consulting Bahamians regularly, holding town meetings, looking for feedback from the public, and asking people to participate in nation building.
On 7th May, 2012, Bahamians rescued The Bahamas from the hands of those who tried to take us back to pre 1967 days. Bahamians rejected 4 years of record murder rates; record youth unemployment; and gross mismanagement of the roads project. Bahamians rejected a government that did not believe enough in the people of The Bahamas.
Bahamians also rejected a series of lies told about our party and our leadership. If Bahamians had believed those lies, the PLP would not have won. But we did win, and we did so resoundingly.
The lies told by the FNM only intensified as election day drew nearer, but stepping up the lies was not their only strategy: nearly $23 million in contracts were given out in the weeks leading up to the General Election. $23 million! And those are only the contracts identified so far.
Madam President, like hundreds of Bahamians of my generation, I have been involved campaigns since1967. I have never been involved in a campaign where the Government nakedly used the Public Treasury, the people’s money, to try to stay in power.
As was said in the other place, government contracts were being given out on the day of the election
It is shameful for FNM candidates [whose authority to sign government contracts has yet to be explained or properly explained] to be signing contracts weeks before the election.
It was the first time a Bahamian government abused the public’s trust in this manner, and it will be the last time: We will bring to Parliament legislation to ensure that these actions [actions that in the other place have been equated to bribery] never happen again.
Those actions remind me of stories I heard of the UBP government. UBP MPs in their attempt to buy votes would give voters one half of a Ten Pound Note and tell them they could get the other half after they voted. 40 years later, the actions of FNM, seen as the successor to the UBP, have been said in the other place and by commentators to be tantamount to attempting to buy votes. As was said in the other place they told voters, “here is your contract” or “here is your job letter”, “ report for work on Tuesday” [the day after the election]. The difference is that UBP used their own money. The FNM spent almost $23 Million from the people’s Treasury!
I did not hear any objection from FNM Cabinet Ministers and candidates when the Treasury was being used for these apparently reprehensible purposes. FNM special interests, the person building a residence of a senior Cabinet Minister, and the person keeping the luxury yacht of a senior Cabinet Minister were given contracts worth millions of dollars weeks before the election. More will be said in the days to come about the FNM awarding an FNM propagandist large contracts with no or no clearly defined remit; the FNM compromising the judicial system when a Cabinet Minister on a political platform referred to the content of a sealed Court file; and the FNM politicizing the police force.
The previous government showed no respect for democracy nor for Rule of Law. More than one person told me that a Cabinet Minister walked up to a senior police officer, not the Commissioner of Police, and referred to that senior police officer as the Commissioner of Police. As has been announced, we will move to repeal all provisions of the Police Act that are unconstitutional, or undermine the impartiality and security of tenure of the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police.
Madam President, I am looking forward to hearing the explanations of those who were complicit in the greatest assault mounted on the middle class by any government in the history of The Bahamas.
The FNM were reckless in the manner in which they launched and managed the road works. To date nearly $100 Million in cost overruns – we are now advised the roads are likely to cost nearly double the initial estimate! It is especially disgraceful and immoral that the FNM “lost” $100 million because of incompetent oversight while at the same time they casually and cruelly told Bahamians in need that the cupboard was bare. And many, many Bahamians were in critical need during this previous government’s term – people losing their jobs and then their homes, once-proud workers and families slipping into poverty, people who had big dreams all of a sudden finding themselves short on grocery money or with no way to pay for school uniforms.
The appetite of FNM and their special interests was so rapacious that they thought nothing of deceasing subventions to charities like the Ranfurly Homes for Children and taxing the Holy Bible while failing to responsibly oversee the roadworks. Where were the penalties for non-performance? How many times could the same roads be dug up again and again? Why were local businesses never consulted regarding the best way to minimize impact?
I will never forget the family on Prince Charles Drive who were struggling to keep their business open. They said that their family business , which has employed many Bahamians, enabled them to send their 4 children to College. Prince Charles Drive is 100 feet wide. It was possible to pave the roads, lay the pipes and keep 2 way traffic on that road at all times. Yet the entire road was dug up all at once. This happened again and again, all over New Providence, closing down scores of Bahamian owned businesses. This family’s home was in foreclosure and they could not go to the College graduation of their 4th child. They were devastated.
Madam President, one of the lowest days in our nation’s history was the sale of 51% of BTC to Cable and Wireless against the will of Bahamians. Who will forget Bahamians being called criminals when they exercised their lawful right to demonstrate? Who will forget the FNM saying “it’s a done deal” and “you can’t turn it back”? And, who will forget the FNM saying “Bahamians need not apply”?
There are still many unanswered questions about the BTC sale. They will be answered in the days to come.
Just like Bahamians had enough in 1967, Bahamians in 2012 had enough.
Madam President, Bahamians voted for CHANGE – a government that Believes in Bahamians; a unique combination of experience and a New Generation of leaders; Project Safe Bahamas [a comprehensive crime fighting plan]; the PLP’s Jobs and Empowerment Plan; Doubling the Investment in Education and Training; and a financially sustainable mortgage relief plan to assist distressed home owners in saving their homes from foreclosure.
Madam President, there is a new feeling of optimism and hope in The Bahamas. On 7th May 2012, Bahamians danced in the streets as they did on 10th January, 1967.
Madam President, the economy is in much worse shape than we could have imagined. The deficit will be about $570 Million: more than $200 Million more than projected in the 2011/2012 Budget. The national debt has increased to over $4 Billion. This means there is now an even greater need for innovative policies and people-first leadership.
The government recognizes that every dollar spent must be a dollar invested wisely. We will aggressively eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. We will invest in people. While investing in a stronger economy, we will launch the most significant assault ever launched on crime. Working together, we will reduce crime and we will rebuild a world-class legal system of which we can all be proud.
Madam President, we have already started to keep the commitments we set out in our Charter for Governance.
The Ministry for Grand Bahama has been established and the Ministry of Financial Services has been reestablished. And by the end of the Budget debate among other things, we expect to stimulate the real estate and construction sectors [thereby creating much needed jobs] by passing laws to decrease stamp tax from 12% to 10% and placing a ceiling of $50,000 on real property tax.
Madam President, we have hit the ground running. We are less than a month into our government and we are moving quickly and on multiple fronts.
Bahamians can do anything that we put our minds to. We are Academy Award winners, Olympic gold medalists, Rhodes Scholars, world-renowned artists and so much more.
I know we have the talent in this country to do great things.
Madam President, on 7th May 2012 Bahamians ushered in a new day in The Bahamas. We on this side will not forget the promise of our forefathers found in Revelation 21 v 4. The “old order tof things has passed away” and we will work until “every tear is wiped from their eyes”. There is much work to be done and much land to be possessed. We invite all to accept the will of the Bahamian people and let us put our time, talent, treasure, hearts and minds to making The Bahamas the best little country in the world.
And I so move.