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COMMENT: Previewing the rest of the States term

COMMENT: Previewing the rest of the States term

Monday 13 January 2020

COMMENT: Previewing the rest of the States term


Chief Minister Gavin St Pier has written a preview for Express of the major decisions the States will face in the final months of this political term.

"Historically, political terms in Guernsey don’t seem to get off to a flying start but they do seem to finish in a sprint and this term that is truer than ever. There is a lot of work this government needs to conclude before the June election, some within the States’ Chamber and some outside it.

"The last three years has been dominated by Brexit. While Guernsey did not have a ‘voice’ in the UK’s decision to leave the EU, we have worked hard to ensure our interests have been represented through our close relationship and constant dialogue with the UK Government.

"While a ‘no deal Brexit’ is now very unlikely in January, we will need to prepare for that outcome at the end of the year. And as the UK negotiates the terms of its new relationship with the EU, it is vital that we continue to speak up for Guernsey’s interests and ensure the new relationship between the ‘British Family’ and the EU works for us. It would be an unacceptable if the new relationship were to impose greater obligations on Guernsey than our current arrangements under Protocol 3.

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Pictured: Deputy St Pier has been representing the island's interests at events such as the British-Irish Council.

'I will be fighting hard to ensure that new relationship is fair, pragmatic and proportionate to our size. The outcome of this process is likely to impact our community and economy for a generation or more so we cannot afford to lose our focus on this external issue this year as we manage our own change in government in June.

"The more immediate challenges for our States in the next six months are domestic, because of the sheer volume of essential policy decisions that must be made without delay. This month the States must focus their attention on the long-term costs of providing public services. There are real pressures, driving those costs up.

"The States are being asked to expand the range of drugs and treatments available to our community; introduce a secondary pensions scheme to ensure we mitigate future pensioner poverty; and to address the significant issues that arise from a multitude of different terms and conditions for different public sector employee groups. What will the impacts be if we fail to address or simply postpone these challenges? How do we generate the revenue we need in the future in a fair way that impacts hard-working families the least? These questions must be answered by the States now.

"Just as they were when this States’ term began four years ago, our transport links remain a top priority. There have been real positives to celebrate. The change in Condor’s ownership ends that particular uncertainty. We have seen air passenger numbers rise and more destinations introduced and excellent promotion of our Bailiwick as a holiday destination. But we have also seen the finances of the Islanders’ airline, Aurigny, deteriorate and questions remain over key routes, particularly for Alderney.

alderney airport

Pictured: Questions remain over the air routes with Alderney and Aurigny's part in that, with a PSO process taking place. 

"These matters must be addressed and I regret that we have not been effective enough as a government in tackling them in a coordinated way. That must change before the end of this States term.

"Over the New Year we have all watched the fires raging on the other side of the world in Australia with mounting horror. This is the latest symptom of the climate crisis that Guernsey, small as we are, must play its role in combatting. With the support of our financial services sector, we have already seen the growth of ‘Green Finance’ to help fund climate change projects internationally.

"This is going to be a real opportunity for us to reposition the perception of Guernsey around the world. But if we are to fully seize that chance, without simply being seen as cynical opportunists, we must also develop and implement our own bold and credible Climate Change Action Plan. This is being developed, and will go to the States before the 2020 General Election.

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Pictured: Deputy St Pier's thoughts are with Australia at this time. 

"In June, we will have a government elected with the new, island wide voting electoral system. Whilst no-one can know exactly what impact the new system will have, my hope is that the new Assembly that emerges from it will be comprise a group of individuals who are committed to and capable of working together to ensure that Guernsey’s consensus-based committee system of government is more effective during the next term of government."

The above comments are the words and views of Deputy Gavin St Pier. 

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