Friday, November 30th 2012 - 18:50 UTC

Falklands debates full time lawmakers and how to attract younger generations to elected posts

With the next general election for Legislative Assembly Members for the Falkland Islands Government less than a year away, public consultation has begun on whether the posts should become full time with an appropriate salary paid.

Richard Cockwell, head of the Members Remuneration Review Panel chaired a public meeting on the issue

Several of the current Assembly Members have expressed concern at the lack of young candidates putting themselves forward for election and separate discussions and meetings have been held to explore ways of encouraging the younger generation to take an active role in the running of the country.

Former Assembly Member for both the Camp and Stanley constituencies and currently working for the Members Remuneration Review Panel, Richard Cockwell, chaired a public meeting on Monday where many members of the public voiced their opinion that the time had come for Members to be suitably rewarded for the steadily increasing work load they have.

Some members of the public said that £40,000 per annum was suitable remuneration for a full time Assembly Member, while a lesser number thought it unnecessary to pay more for the services provided.

Further meetings are to be held including one with the younger members of the community next month.

Given that the youngest current Assembly Member is 50 years old, and the last injection of the under 50s in the form of Janet Robertson and Andrea Clausen elected in 2005, failed to inspire the electorate to reinstate them in 2009, MercoPress went out and about this week to find out in advance how favourably the younger generation would view a full time paid position.

Roddy Cordeiro (32) who works for Mineral Resources said he was convinced there was a need for full-time, salaried MLAs and that people from a wider demographic background would be encouraged to stand for election if they didn’t have to sacrifice their existing time and/or income.

“At the moment we have a system whereby only those who can afford the time and money to do so (or those with, very understanding employers) can effectively stand. This reduces the candidate pool considerably and I believe stops fresh thinking and ideas from entering the political system. Furthermore, and particularly as we look to increasingly reach out internationally, we need professional MLAs who can fully devote their time to the task at home and abroad. We are a self-governing country and we should have a system that recognises the work load and responsibility that entails,” said Mr Cordeiro

The choice to stand should be one borne out of civic duty, but the reality is that serving office would be an invaluable career opportunity, he said adding, “I do not believe therefore that there should be specific MLA pensions, sabbaticals or post-saving for those taking office; I think a four year contract is a perfectly safe career choice and we should not be looking to provide a safety net.”

Environmental Officer Nick Rendell (30) has witnessed the heavy work load and associated issues that are a less savoury part of being an MLA when his father Mike Rendell served and does not feel it is a career move he would choose at the moment.

“A decent wage would definitely make it a possibility and would likely make it a more attractive option for under 30s,” he said, but added that he was still not sure the average younger person would like the risk of leaving a career for a four year contract. “I still think altruism comes heavily into the equation,” he said, adding: “If the Falklands Government could encourage employers to offer leave of duty while contracted as MLA, this would help younger people take a ‘career break’ while serving as an MLA.”

One 35 year old Islander said he was definitely interested in politics. “Whilst money isn't everything, there is a need to cover costs. With the present structure I wouldn't be able to afford to stand as I have no savings. Being paid a salary around £40k per year removes that obstacle. I think we are entering very interesting times and it would be great to be part of that. I think full time should be an option, although I am sure there could also be some very good candidates in the private sector that may need to remain part time,” he told MercoPress.

Another Islander in his late twenties said although he was fully supportive of the option of full time MLAs, he was slightly surprised to hear that a figure of £40,000 was the consensus view at the public meeting and was worried that such a high figure would attract interest for the wrong reasons.

This view was shared by Sulivan Shipping’s Tourism Coordinator Samantha Marsh (29) who said although she appreciated the ever increasing workload and the need for fulltime MLAs she had concerns that such a salary would be the sole motivation for some rather than, “a passion for the Islands and its future.”

“Personally I feel the job of MLA is something best suited to those who have experience and knowledge, and this is something that comes with age. If I ever considered standing for election I would not do so until my late 30s as I do not feel I have enough ‘life experience’ if you will.

“Younger people such as Krysteen Ormond have proved they have the mettle to represent the Islands well overseas, but our youngsters may be reluctant to put a potential career on hold whilst being a full time MLA, which is understandable. I am not sure if even such an attractive wage would change this,” Miss Marsh told MercoPress.

Krysteen Ormond (23) who is studying overseas and recently took part in a Falklands delegation at the C24 in New York last June said she had indeed pondered the idea of standing for election and, due to the current restrictions and low pay, had assumed it would have to wait until she had retired and had the time and money. “If it were decided that MLA roles were to be salaried, I would definitely give the idea a bit more consideration,” she said.

Miss Ormond said she could see the real benefit of full time salaried MLAs even at £20,000 per annum.

“It would make it more accessible to a wider group of people. There have been problems in the past with work commitments conflicting with political commitments, as obviously, most people need to work to survive as well as being an MLA or they need the flexibility of self- or semi-employment to free up the time to pursue a political career. If it were a salaried role, I feel that more people would be able to really consider the role, as the financial fear would no longer be there.”

Penguin News journalist Teslyn Barkman had some reservations about such a high wage as £40,000. “It’s very hard to say no to the prospect of any job that offers £40,000 with the only requirement being elected into it,” she said. Increase payments to a living wage of £20,000 not £40,000, or elections could be turned compared to a lottery event every four years, warned Miss Barkman. “We need honest working, rational people willing to work for a decent wage, not an influx of gold digging applicants looking for a pay packet with little job requirements beyond public opinion,” she said.

By Sharon Jaffray – MercoPress – Stanley

 

19 comments Feed

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1 Think (#) Nov 30th, 2012 - 07:08 pm Report abuse
Say.... £75,000 a year and honest working, rational Think would seriously consider taking the job.....
I'll need a driver for the Landy too...
Bog Monster would do...
He's an ok driver...
2 ChrisR (#) Nov 30th, 2012 - 07:30 pm Report abuse
@1 I Don't Think aka Blind_Scottie_Kirchnerists Deputy

I can recommend the excellent Oxford Pocket English Dictionary in order that you can understand the meaning of ‘honest’, ‘working’ and ‘rational’. I realise that this eminent publication may not be readily available in Argentina since TMBOA tried to have all book imports banned, but I am confident you can find the information on the internet.

The words you should have used to describe yourself readily jump to mind. These are ‘dishonest’, ‘workshy’ and ‘irrational’ together with ‘liar’, ‘obfuscator’ and, of course, ‘The Turnip In Chief’.

No need to thank me, I know you appreciate the Brits view of you.
3 emerald (#) Nov 30th, 2012 - 08:12 pm Report abuse
*2*

You forgot to say “ looser ” .
4 Think (#) Nov 30th, 2012 - 08:28 pm Report abuse
(3) emerald

- Q: What's a looser?

- A: An Anglo that can't spell loser....

;-)
5 emerald (#) Nov 30th, 2012 - 08:46 pm Report abuse
Doug !

I've read that there are more surveillance cameras per square mile in London than anywhere else......

The opposite being true in rural Argentina is one of the things someone likes about it.
6 ChrisR (#) Nov 30th, 2012 - 09:28 pm Report abuse
5 emerald

I should lay off the drugs if I were you, I might understand what you are trying to say.
7 Joe Bloggs (#) Nov 30th, 2012 - 11:35 pm Report abuse
The trouble with that sort of wage is that a lot of good people aren't going to give up their current jobs to take such a cut in income. I'm not suggesting for a moment that I would be elected but I couldn't see myself doing the job for that sort of remuneration. Therefore the majority of people still attracted and capable of doing the job will be thoses that can already afford to do it under the current provisions.
8 Marcos Alejandro (#) Dec 01st, 2012 - 06:15 am Report abuse
1 Think
Bog Monster? Are you talking about heavy Luxton?
Remember, his occupation is “dust extraction” not driving
9 reality check (#) Dec 01st, 2012 - 06:48 am Report abuse
Given that it is highly likely that the Falkland Islands is going to continue to develop the way it has in the last 30 years, it would seem the to be the logical thing to do. I believe it is called foreward palnning.
10 Doveoverdover (#) Dec 01st, 2012 - 07:40 am Report abuse
If we can draw any lessons from the past and present we might reasonably conclude that the best of the future generation candidates, particularly the EXCO material, are still in the UK or yet to throw in their lot with the Islanders.
11 Think (#) Dec 01st, 2012 - 05:52 pm Report abuse
(10) Cmdr McDod

Sometimes your posts have kind of a poetic dimension on them.....

Has young McDod succeeded in “throwing in his lot” with a Kelperette yet? ;-)
12 British_Kirchnerist (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 02:23 am Report abuse
Maybe if they unbanned political parties I could move there and stand for the FpV =) No seriously I've no plans to do that, but unbanning parties would be good for democracy nonetheless...
13 Doveoverdover (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 09:31 am Report abuse
@11 My old friend OPSEC and a desire not to reopen old wounds prevents me from commenting.

@12 I'm not sure parties are actually banned as much as everyone with a vote belongs to the virtual “Community” party. The super new FIG website says “No political parties are represented on the present Legislative Assembly, all Members being elected as independents. There is no formal opposition.” That implies that there is the possibility of party politics when the Community becomes diverse and large enough to support it.
14 Shed-time (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 01:04 pm Report abuse
Maybe they should get a group of young folk together and ask them what they want the falklands to look like once the old-guard have passed through the veil. Non-young folk seem to be notoriously good at changing nothing, young folk seem to be good at changing everything... there needs to be a middle ground that allows checked progression from what is essentially an agrarian society into something that is modern and prosperous, without ultimately furking all over what is important to you.

How about setting up a non-partisan falklands youth council and letting the interested get involved in local governance early and then hopefully they'll keep involved once they've matured somewhat.

With only old-folks and no youth, you have no change, with only old-folks and no change, you die miserably like british manufacturing in the 1980s.
15 Joe Bloggs (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 04:34 pm Report abuse
14 Shed-time

Interesting ideas and you're correct about getting some young blood. We've had a few young MLAs in recent years but unfortunately it didn't work out too well for quite a few of them. Some were unlucky to be part of one of the most unpopular (in the end) groups we've had in a long time so they are got booted out in 2009. Since then there have been some more but for various reasons they didn't realise longevity.

You've only just arrived on Mercopress if I am correct. I can't place you as one of the old guard re-badged either, although I could be wrong. Care to tell us a thing or two about yourself and your interest in these news items? Only if it suits you to. This is not some sort of La Campora request. You'll be free to carry on if you choose not to respond.
16 Think (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 05:09 pm Report abuse
(15) Joe Bloggs

You say:
“I can't place you as one of the old guard re-badged either, although I could be wrong.”

I say:
You are wrong.......... Try GreekYoghurt....
One of our best Sock-Puppets ;-)
17 Ayayay (#) Dec 02nd, 2012 - 06:53 pm Report abuse
@1, lol
18 Shed-time (#) Dec 03rd, 2012 - 02:45 pm Report abuse
@16 I cannot be GreekYoghurt, as I don't even like tanning salons.

@15 It's not unanticipated that the youth will become unpopular. Typically in local councils the youths have ideas like building a skate-park, sports centre or a youth-club and the slightly more ancient folks in the society think it's a dreadful idea because of all the noise that will stop them listening to the Archers in silence. Then they vote in some guy who is the same generation as they are and the sports centre money is spent on another war memorial or free wheelchairs. Then all the young people emigrate somewhere fun.

Now, I'm not against free wheel-chairs, but one of the big issues in the falklands is keeping and attracting the youth, who in turn bring innovation. They need jobs and interesting things to do. They also need to feel engaged in the process. Even the jesuits realised that you need to get them early.

My interests are simply as an observer looking into the sullied fish pond that is Argentina looking to see the fish screwing each other over and stealing from one another. It helps to remind me that nothing in life is that bad.
19 ealdamezalle (#) Dec 03rd, 2012 - 10:36 pm Report abuse
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