While Government and Opposition legislators were taking up new positions on different sides of the aisle Wednesday, the House’s only independent candidate was choosing his seat as far away from the lot of them as possible.
Rather than sitting with the government, as some had speculated, Mr. Miller on Wednesday took up a seat at the very southeast corner of the house, at the farthest end of the Opposition bench.
While his seat choice is an important reminder of his independence from both political parties, Mr. Miller told the Caymanian Compass it is also a nod to his political hero, the late Craddock Ebanks, who at one time also sat in the same seat as a North Side MLA.
‘He was a very straight-forward person. He didn’t mince his words; he said it like it was,’ Mr. Miller said of Mr. Ebanks, who represented North Side for 30 years. ‘He didn’t sugar-coat anything.’
Mr. Miller took over from Mr. Ebanks as North Side’s representative in 1984, sitting in the same seat until being appointed to the Executive Council in 1988. Mr. Miller lost office in 1992 to Edna Moyle, who served the district for four terms before retiring just prior to this year’s election.
Mr. Miller was the only independent candidate to win a seat in this election and although he has said he will support the government where he can, he insists his independent credentials remain firm.
Mr. Miller insisted on being listed as an independent MLA on Wednesday’s Legislative Assembly programme and says he will continue to do so throughout his term in office.
‘I pledge to work with [the Government] in whatever capacity I can to face the myriad of problems and pressing issues faced by these islands,’ he said during an address to the assembly Wednesday.
But he added: ‘I am here to work for the people of this country and particularly the people of North Side.’
While he cast a forlorn figure sitting by himself Wednesday, Mr. Miller is sure to have plenty to do in his new job, having already been appointed chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
The new Government has also pledged to put his healthcare credentials to use as the new chairman of the Health Services Authority board.
Mr. Miller said he wants to get to work as quickly as possible to clear the PAC’s backlog, which goes all the way back to projects undertaken by the UDP when they were in power before elections in 2005.
‘Unless the public accounts committee functions in a timely manner, it’s a total waste of time,’ Mr. Miller told the Compass. He said he wants the PAC to be completely up to date with reviewing audited government accounts by July or August 2010.
‘That is subject to the agreement of the other committee members but I don’t suspect that will be a problem,’ he said.
New Health Minister Mark Scotland has already expressed concern about the HSA’s financial position and said Wednesday that immediate action must be taken or the HSA will have to reduce the amount of services it offers.
Mr. Miller said he did not want to discuss the potential HSA board appointment until an official announcement is made on the post.
But it is a position Mr. Miller is well acquainted with – in 2007 he conducted a review of the HSA at the request of the then Minister Anthony Eden that included a host of recommendations on how the board could function more effectively.
Mr. Miller himself served as health minister from 1988 until 1992 and is a registered pharmacist.