Premier Bush dismisses complaints of opposition, Ezzard Miller
Premier McKeeva Bush has hit back at accusations by opposition and independent lawmakers that his government was preventing them from having a voice in parliament, saying their private members’ motions only served to tie up the government’s time.
“Any opposition can sit down and draft two dozen motions, which will do nothing but take up the time of the House,” Mr. Bush said.
There are currently seven outstanding private members motions from Mr. Miller and the opposition.
Mr. Bush said the oppositions members’ strategy was “to tie the government up in such a way that we have to spend an enormous amount of time doing research and study on the matters of their motions, but government must weigh the priority of these matters as against getting a budget without taxing the people, which in our circumstance took a tremendous amount of time and was made worse because of what the opposition did.
“I am not going to take up the time of the House for days on end with matters that have already been dealt with … It’s a waste of time and it does the country no good,” he said.
Mr. Bush was responding to comments made at a news conference by Leader of the Opposition Alden McLaughlin, Kurt Tibbetts, Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller on Thursday, 18 August. They had claimed that by the Legislative Assembly’s Business Committee failure to put their motions and questions on the order papers of meetings of parliament, the role of the minority members of government to raise issues of national and local importance was being sidelined.
Mr. Bush chairs the Standing Business Committee. Its four other members are Rolston Anglin and Juliana O’Connor-Connolly from the United Democratic Party and Alden McLaughlin and Arden McLean from the PPM. The committee determines what business will be considered by the Legislative Assembly.
The premier accused the opposition of playing a “petty and … dirty political campaign”.
“They are doing nothing but hurting our Islands and our people. They are doing nothing to address the problems that they created and compounded and they have no plan for correcting them,” he said, adding that issues involving the timing of meetings of the Legislative Assembly, which the opposition and independent members also criticised, were “housekeeping matters, which predates this government”.
Among the motions submitted by the opposition is one by Mr. McLaughlin for a lack of confidence vote in the current government.
The opposition has four outstanding motions and Mr. Miller has three, none of which have been placed on the order paper, or agenda, of sittings of the House since it resumed on 23 May.
Mr. Bush accused Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. McLean, both of whom are members of the Standing Business Committee, of being disingenuous when they talked about the failure of motions to go before parliament because, he said, they were present at a committee meeting that decided that all the business before the House, including motions, would be put on the order paper when the Legislative Assembly next meets on 7 September. “We decided that two weeks ago and we set another Business Committee meeting for 31 August,” he said.
Mr. Bush said the government had to weigh the matters of those motions “against the urgent needs of the people and the amount of work that it is taking the government to deal with the economy and the various projects on the table.”
Several projects have been announced by the government since it came to power in May 2009, including a proposal to build a medical tourism hospital, a knowledge-based special economic zone, a wide-ranging deal with Dart that includes dealing with the George Town Landfill and creating a new dump, an oil refinery, redevelopment of the airports on Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman and expanding cruise port berths and facilities.
“These essential projects will create employment opportunities and help people to pay their mortgages. This is what is needed, ideas to help people, not as the opposition is doing. They are doing nothing to address the people’s problems of declining income,” the premier said.
He also hit out at Mr. Miller, who had complained that none of his three motions – to remove duty on medicine and medical supplies, to reduce duty on fuel and to introduce a minimum wage – had been placed on an order paper for discussion, saying the North Side MLA’s motions had been discussed at length and the matters included in those motions were being dealt with.
“His problem is that he wants to take credit for what our ministers are now doing,” Mr. Bush said.