Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin publicly backed local open records laws during Right to Know week last week, while at the same time telling members of the local media that his government will not hold weekly press briefings.
Mr. McLaughlin said Thursday that while he and his Progressives government members would hold press briefings from time to time and make themselves available to the local media for comments on the issues of the day, there will be no weekly Cabinet press briefings going forward.
As a Cabinet, Mr. McLaughlin’s government has held only one formal press briefing broadcast on the government-owned television channel.
Weekly Cabinet briefings were initiated during the previous People’s Progressive Movement government by then-Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts. During the briefings, which started as informal gatherings of ministers and local members of the press, the government would present a series of topics and then take questions from the media on those and other issues.
Eventually, the briefings were broadcast live on Cayman 27 television. The PPM government’s successors, the United Democratic Party, held routine Cabinet press briefings during the first year of its term, but later largely discontinued them.
The current administration said its message will be handled by the premier’s press secretary, with additional briefings held as necessary. The premier said there is no reason the local press couldn’t ask his office any questions it liked at any time.
Praise for FOI laws
Meanwhile, the premier lauded the successes of the Cayman Islands Freedom of Information Law, 2007, in making more government data available for public review.
“Before FOI, which is now a statutory right, employees in public authorities used their discretion as to what information to disclose,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “FOI substituted that discretion with a set of independent, uniform and enforceable rules that must be followed in responding to an applicant’s request for records.
“In essence, the FOI law strikes a balance between the public’s legitimate right to know and the need for public authorities to keep some information confidential.
“As the deputy governor said the other day, FOI is alive and well,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “I am happy that my government [referring to the previous PPM administration] was able to get legislation approved that has made such a difference as far as making government more open to the people of the Cayman Islands.”