Ex-MLAs on Turtle Farm: 'Stop wasting the public's money!'

The Ernst and Young (EY) report 2014 to the Cabinet on financial matters has made recommendations to government, some of which we agree with and some we do not agree with.

On the Turtle Farm, EY’s executive summary states, “Turtle Farm. Exploration of a sale/joint venture of the tourist element (likely to a cruise ship operator) whilst continuing to subsidise the meat production facility.”

In 1983, the government in which we were ministers bought the Turtle Farm and later with a strong board of directors turned it into a profitable company. During the eight years (two government terms) 1992 to 2000, the then-minister responsible for the Turtle Farm, John McLean, was chairman of the board. Most of those years the Turtle Farm made a small profit (e.g. $100,000) and some years a small loss. Mr. McLean resisted requests from politicians to build the tourist facility at Boatswain’s Beach as he was of the view that it would be a large loss. He was so right!

Losses and loan repayments of Boatswain’s Beach in the financial year 2013/14 were $10,290,000 – and this year is estimated to be $9,500,000. It has made large losses every year since Boatswain’s Beach was built. We doubt if an investor would buy Boatswain’s Beach as a going business, as EY recommends.

In our view, Boatswain’s Beach needs to be shut down over a period, and staff in Boatswain’s Beach placed in the Turtle Farm or other jobs, especially those long-serving dedicated staff, and/or fairly compensated. Go back to the Turtle Farm as it was under our governments and make a profit again. Stop wasting the public’s money!

It is far cheaper and easier to admit a mistake and correct it than to keep pumping $10 million of the public’s money into it year after year, especially money that government does not have and probably will have to tax the public to raise money for this and the other losing companies and statutory authorities.

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