Steep learning curve ahead for new lawmakers

Getting to grips with any new job can be a challenge, but when that job entails running a country, newbies need to learn the ropes quickly. 

With this in mind, new Cabinet ministers and government backbenchers will undergo a series of training sessions to familiarise themselves with the workings of parliament, the civil service and government ministries. 

These include two days of orientation loaded with presentations from chief officers in the ministries, commissions and independent bodies – such as the complaints and information commissioners – as well as other key agencies, Cayman Islands Deputy Governor Franz Manderson told lawmakers Wednesday. 

During the first meeting of the Legislative Assembly following the 22 May election, Mr. Manderson, who heads the civil service, told legislators that the chief officers within the individual ministries had prepared briefing notes for the new government ministers, “so they have a clear understanding of what work has been done and what needs to be done and some of the key priorities that we would like to put forward”. 

To help them master the sometimes complicated procedures of the Legislative Assembly, new Premier Alden McLaughlin said he had already asked the clerk of the assembly to organise a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association seminar for incoming members. 

“The business of navigating this House and any government is not quite as simple as it appears when you’re on the outside and it will take considerable time to get the hang of how things work here and for the new ministers, in particular, how things work within the public sector when you’re a minister,” he said. 

Mr. McLaughlin said the seminar, which he hoped could be held within the next couple of months, would give new members a basic course in parliamentary procedure. “Otherwise, it will take you a long time and you’ll just have to listen and watch as we go through various procedures and motions here. That, I think, will help you get up to speed much quicker,” he told his colleagues. 

He said the Cabinet secretary and chief officers would arrange briefing sessions for the new ministers, so they could “start to understand how the system works”. 

“Change is good but it also bring with it considerable stresses and strains and it’s going to take the new government some time to settle down in this House … and be able to run smoothly through the various things we have to do to effect the business of government,” he said. 

The election returned eight lawmakers who have never held public office before. Those new to public service include Tara Rivers, Marco Archer, Winston Connolly, Joseph Hew, Wayne Panton and Alva Suckoo, who sit on the ruling government bench. Newcomers Bernie Bush and Roy McTaggart are among the opposition. 

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The ruling government benches on the first meeting of the Legislative Assembly following the 22 May election were made up of six members who have never been elected before. – PHOTO: NORMA CONNOLLY
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3 COMMENTS

  1. Could you please stop referring to lawmakers, an American expression. They are Members of the Assembly. Try Assemblypersons or Expensescollectors or whatever, if you can’t use MLAs.
    Passing laws is only one of their functions and responsibilities.

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