Updated: 06 November 2022 10:22
Deputy Governor Tom Oppenheim reads the Speech from the Throne. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
The government has received a report on the full range of self-government options for Bermuda, it was revealed yesterday.
The revelation came during the presentation of the Speech from the Throne by Deputy Governor Tom Oppenheim.
“In an unrivaled display of pageantry, the UK marked the end of its second Elizabethan era. The late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has proven to be an enduring symbol of the monarchy and the mystery of the institution,” Mr Oppenheim said.
“However, the complexity of the legacy of colonialism has manifested itself in recent statements by Commonwealth countries that now seek to transcend independence and sever the final ties that bind their nations to the UK.
“As an overseas territory, Bermuda is not included. Discussions of self-determination don’t elicit the same well-rehearsed arguments in London as they do here in Bermuda.
“The UK government is approaching the issue with maturity and encouraging the territories to do the same. Accordingly, in line with this mature approach, the Government commissioned and has now received a report entitled Assessment of the sufficiency of self-governance in accordance with internationally recognized standards prepared by Dr. Carlyle G Corbin, International Governance Advisor.
“This assessment explores minimum standards and the full range of self-government options for Bermuda. This is a first step and will be the basis for the necessary large-scale community discussion and education that must accompany any future action in this area.
OBA leader Cole Simons on self-government report
“How could the PLP government raise the subject of independence at a time like this? Families are trying to figure out how they will eat and pay their bills and worry about their future.
“Increasing independence at this point is another stark reminder that Premier Burt and his government have truly lost touch with the people.”
Outlining the government’s program for the upcoming parliamentary year, Mr Oppenheim also unveiled plans to create a “corporate entity” to oversee the completion of the Morgan’s Point development.
Mr Oppenheim said: ‘The intricate web of business at the site has kept a team of advisers busy for the past two years as the government attempts to achieve a return on the costly guarantee called due to the failure of the project. .
A new change to tourism legislation will give ministers greater ‘discretion’ when awarding concessions to resort developers.
In environmental developments, MPs will consider a strategy to phase out the import and sale of petrol-powered vehicles by 2035, while legislation to improve air quality and reduce plastics for use unique will be introduced.
Mr Oppenheim said: “The world has witnessed the impact of climate change.
“Much of the biodiversity of the world’s oceans exists within island communities like Bermuda. Small island states must continue to protect the environment and adopt measures to mitigate these impacts.
Efforts to help families in difficulty will continue during this mandate. The Child Care Allowance will be increased while the financial aid regulations will be reformed “to better reflect the realistic costs of the goods and services for which aid is provided”.
An overhaul of the public school system will continue under a new school authority, while a bill to create a history and heritage committee to preserve and honor the history and legacy of education will be presented to the House of Assembly.
Describing education as the Government’s ‘biggest priority’, Mr Oppenheim added that P7 and P8 grades will be created to support the opening of parochial primary schools at Francis Patton Primary School and Primary School Purvis.
Safer driving habits will be encouraged through the creation of a learner’s permit to provide on-road instruction and testing for new drivers.
Social insurance contributions must be made more “progressive” to “conform to the ideals of equity”.
Mr Oppenheim said: ‘The government will introduce amendments to the Contributory Pensions Act 1970 to provide for a sliding scale of contributions, based on earned wages and not a flat contribution regardless of income.’
Declaring the parliamentary session officially open, he added: “There is no doubt that significant challenges lie ahead. As the cost of living rises, it is essential that, as a society, we support those who are disadvantaged and most vulnerable to global economic shocks.
“As the government implements its health and environment strategies, we will continue to leverage UK resources to support where needed.
“The world events of the past year demonstrate the importance of transparent, legitimate and inclusive governments and institutions.
“The ability of the judiciary, legislature and executive to discharge their respective constitutional responsibilities will be critical to maintaining Bermuda’s hard-earned reputation for good governance, stability, respect for the rule of law and compliance with international standards.