PLP Senator Diallo Rabain writes, ‘The Premier’s constant deflections showed a Leader of a Government that has basically done nothing legislatively since the House broke for Easter.’ *File photo
PLP Senator Diallo Rabain writes, ‘The Premier’s constant deflections showed a Leader of a Government that has basically done nothing legislatively since the House broke for Easter.’ *File photo

Is it that the OBA Government has an issue chewing gum and walking at the same time?

On Friday, the House of Assembly reconvened to resume the business of the people of Bermuda. 

Shockingly, there was not one bill brought forth by the Government for First Reading. The only new business was a few Ministerial Statements, the CRC Report submitted for mention (a report written by an independent group — not the government) and the National Security Report, which was debated. For those who do not know, I will give a quick synopsis of the legislative procedure. 

Agenda

The government of the day sets the legislative agenda. They forward to the House of Assembly what legislation, statements, motions, etc they plan to bring forward that week. 

The Opposition also forwards to the House any motions or opposition bills it wishes to have debated. The clerk then produces an Order Paper listing the items on the agenda. The specific order of the agenda is covered in the House Standing Orders.

A bill has to go through a few steps. First, it has be on the agenda and “read for the 1st time”.  Second, usually two (2) house sessions later, it is “read for the second time”, debated and voted on. After that debate and Second Reading, it is “read for the third time” and considered passed. The bill is sent to the Senate and the process is repeated. So effectively it takes about five to six weeks to get a bill passed. 

When reading the above, it is all the more shocking to see the government present no bills for first reading on May 9, 2014. The House has been adjourned since the last Friday in March and in over a month’s time, there has been no legislation drafted. 

What happened to the all important Gaming Bill? What about the right to recall MPs? What about absentee voting? And the many other bills and initiatives promised to us by the OBA? What happened to the people’s business? What happened to the urgency of now?

Jetgate

One more lesson about the House. When all of the legislative agenda has been completed, the Premier announces that the House is adjourned until the next time scheduled to meet. At this time all members are allowed to speak on any topic and this time is called Motion to Adjourn. 

This Friday, during the Motion to Adjourn, the PLP spoke mostly about the article released by Ayo Johnson and the affair dubbed ‘Jetgate’. The OBA’s response was generally “stop focusing on Jetgate and get on with the people’s business!” 

Hold on here, the people’s business is the legislative agenda, of which the Government, after a month-long break, produced virtually nothing. How does talking about an incident, after that day’s business has been completed, equate to not getting on with the people’s business? 

This is where our political system plays on the needs to educate the general public on the political process. The House agenda lists government business first, then motion to adjourn last, not the other way around. How does speaking after government business has concluded for the day, prevent the government from doing the people’s business? 

The Premier’s constant deflections showed a Leader of a Government that has basically done nothing legislatively since the House broke for Easter, yet cast aspersions on the Opposition for not doing the people’s business. Oh, the irony.

 It would seem that the OBA is too busy scoring own goals and complaining about why it seems like the PLP is continuously passing the ball into their goal mouth. If they bothered to look up they would realize that it’s the people of Bermuda that have passed them the ball in December 2012 and they are growing tired of seeing these own goals, goals that are ultimately being scored against them, the people of Bermuda.