Throne Speech thoughts

My overall sense after listening to the Throne Speech was that it didn't feel all that inspiring. Not much new in there and no innovative ideas to make a grand Social Agenda.

The Social Agenda is more of the same from the sounds of it, just dressed up with a sexy title.

Some quick thoughts and highlights:

Introduction

We've heard all this before in the speech the Premier delivered in the UK and the one this Monday.

Housing

>> Mobile Homes for emergency housing (short term) - no number, no idea where.
>> Renovate derelict/vacant properties and rehab existing stock.
>> Housing Information Management System to match accomodation - fancy name for a list of houses.
>> Duty relief on materials.
>> Eliminate death tax on primary residence

Conclusion: Yawn. Same old undelivered ideas dressed up as new. Nothing new here, other than the death tax elimination. How many people does this affect? Is this going to alleviate a housing crunch? I don't buy it as making a huge difference, although I support it.

Seniors

>> establish a national monitoring system for level of care and standard of care.
>> Conduct home assessments to check on level of home care.
>> Workshops and forums
>> Wellness clinics
>> Health Summit

Conclusions: Lots more talk and research. Little in the way of tangible relief. Wellness clinics sound good, was a UBP 2003 election idea (plus free eye-glasses).

Youth

>> develop a National Youth Development Strategy
>> Academic Monitoring and Child Development Mentor Project - values and mentoring
>> promote respect for law and order early with School Resource Officers expansion
>> Junior Police Cadet Programme
>> National Conference on Youth, Crime and Drug Issues
>> develop a national strategy to counter young offenders

Conclusions: we need character training for our youth yes, from this Government - No. Lots more talk, conferences and developing of strategies going on.

Community Development

>> formulation of a national policy to recognize cultural contributions.
>> Community Areas Programme - infrastrucure improvements, traffic calming, upgrading derelict buildings, plaques in historically important spots, day care. Sounds like normal Government stuff to me.
>> Community Forums - residents can discuss issues
>> Fund new community organizations - nothing new here.
>> Demerit traffic points system - oh damn, I'm in trouble here.
>> Commuter bus pilot continuation

Conclusions: more talk, development and formulation. Normal Works & Engineering stuff dressed up as new. Demerit points system is good. Mini buses - old idea.

Crime

>> Police Consultative Committees revitalized
>> Uncommon Results Programme - rehabilitation programme
>> National Drug Commision rolled into Health and Family Services

Conclusions: Not a lot of anything here.

Education & Training

>> Mature Student Further Education Award
>> National Training Board to introduce initiatives, Tech Quest, GED training, Technical Career Prep Seminar, youth development projects, probation and parole project.

Conclusions: Mature student scholarship is good, that's about it. Nothing ambitious here. GED training could be done at Adult Education, A seminar on technical careers? (UBP was to reestablish Bermuda Tech) and more existing projects for youth and inmates.

Economy

>> amendments to legislation that affects international business (huh? That goes on all the time).
>> Work with bank for small business
>> increase bed capacity - how's about they move forward on the ones from years ago yet to materialize
>> New gateways - go for it, Cubans are chomping at the bit to come here.
>> stimulate greater interaction between locals and tourists
>> Entertainment Development Fund

Conclusions: Other than the Entertainment Development Fund this is the same old ideas that haven't been accomplished yet.

Computers:

I can't believe this got a special section. Runnning out of ideas here...

>> internet access in public places
>> recycle computers programme.

Conclusions: 74% of Bermudians have computers in their homes and we're having a special line item to recycle computers?

List of old uncompleted stuff ends it.

My initital reaction:

I didn't have high hopes on this but the Premier has clearly over-promised and un-delivered -- a cardinal sin of politics! There's only a couple of decent ideas here buried in a bunch of old uncompleted ones and promises to 'develop', 'formulate', 'research'. That's not a social agenda, that's buying time.

I don't see anyone getting too inspired about this Throne Speech, particularly in light of how revolutionary we were told it would be. The Government have lots of work to do to spin this into a grand Social Agenda.

Grant Gibbons and his UBP will have a field day. Hopefully they resist the temptation to dwell on how much of a dud this was and strike the right balance between criticism and their own vision.

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