TO THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
THE GOVERNMENT’S SOCIAL AGENDA
PREMIER THE HONOURABLE W. ALEXANDER
SCOTT JP, MP
FRIDAY 07 MAY 2004
Mr. Speaker and members of this Honourable House, a
lot has happened in this little Island of Bermuda since we last assembled
in this place.
We have experienced both ends of the spectrum as a community.
There was great success on the international stage with
our hosting of the CARIFTA Games, our annual Bermuda Regiment Camp in Jamaica,
our National Football team at the National Sports Centre, our attendance at
RIMS and our recent meetings with U.S. policymakers.
On the other hand, we also had to deal with what was probably
the lowest point - that unprecedented display of violence during the Friendship
Trophy Final at the Wellington Oval.
We were all shocked to see and hear the accounts of what
happened during what was supposed to be a celebration of football and ironically
called the Friendship Trophy Final.
Sadly, even though the violence had absolutely nothing
to do with the football game, our national sport will be tarnished by the
occurrence of that sad day – In St. George’s Town.
Mr. Speaker, without disregarding any of the calls
to action within our community, or detracting from the seriousness of what
occurred at the Wellington Oval, I think it is extremely important for us
to keep in mind that when we speak about antisocial behaviour amongst our
young people, we are actually talking about a minority of our young people.
You might ask does that make the situation any less serious?
My answer would be no of course not, but I also
believe it is very important to balance our concern about this and other incidents
of violence or antisocial behaviour in our community with the knowledge that
the majority of our young people are not sitting on walls without jobs
or engaging in dangerous or antisocial activity.
The majority of our young people are members of our sports
programmes, our dance schools, our church programmes, our music schools and
at the same time, are diligently working to do their best in their studies
either locally or at overseas institutions.
When I am invited to speak at various functions across
the Island or to make presentations at our schools, churches and sporting
organisations, I have an opportunity to see the great potential and talent
that exists amongst the young people of Bermuda and as a result, I am extremely
proud of our young people and what they are able to accomplish with the limited
human resources we have on our small Island.
Mr. Speaker, before this House arose for the Easter
break, you heard various members of this side of the House make reference
to the Government’s social agenda.
The Government is committed to addressing the negative
elements in our society to improve the quality of life in Bermuda.
Those negative elements include the behaviour of some of
our young people but that is only one side of the issue. To address the negative
elements in our community, we also have to deal with issues such as housing,
crime, drugs, training and development and the fabric of some of our neighbourhoods.
In this regard the Cabinet, in collaboration with their
respective technical officers, has been charged with developing programmes
that will serve to address those elements in the community that bring about
a sense of hopelessness and helplessness amongst segments of our community.
In addition, we have been consulting with and talking to
representatives of the private sector, the international business sector and
local community activists to determine how each segment of our community sees
the problems and to determine collaboratively how with our collective resources
we can address these concerns.
This consultation is set to continue and will include other
sectors of the community to ensure that we have the widest view possible regarding
the issues we are dealing with.
The Cabinet is set to review Ministry proposals to determine
cost, feasibility and to establish links to existing or proposed initiatives
within other Ministries. This will ensure that we do not reinvent the wheel
and instead develop proposals that bring about joined up Government and effective
and cost efficient responses to the various issues under consideration.
Most importantly, we are determining those proposals that
are capable of being immediately implemented and those which need to form
the basis of legislation or policy and that will need to come before this
Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members of this House, our
efforts today to address the negative elements in our society will not only
improve the quality of life in Bermuda, but will also ensure that we leave
a legacy and foundation upon which to ensure an even better Bermuda as we
continue our journey to the New Bermuda.