The Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly has eight members once again. Mike Summers, a veteran of Falklands’ affairs was sworn in as an MLA at an official ceremony held at Government House this Monday morning.
After taking the oath MLA Summers described returning to Government as “a pleasure and a responsibility” adding that he is looking forward to working with all members productively.
MLA Summers who had served on the Legislative council for 13 years lost his seat at the General Election in 2009 along with all of his colleagues at the time. At the by-election held in Stanley on 23 June, he took the seat vacated by Glenn Ross.
Confirming his election manifesto, MLA Summers said he would continue to be a prime mover in openness and transparency of Government, explaining that “perhaps the key lesson he learned from the 2009 General Election was that they failed to communicate adequately with the general public”.
MLA Summers said that he would be taking over the portfolio of Agriculture and related areas, and also has an interest in Education and Sport and Leisure as a second portfolio. The incoming lawmaker confirmed he intends to remain as the Chairman of the Falkland Islands Overseas Games Association. MLA Summers heard the news he had been elected to office as he was arriving by ferry onto the Isle of Wight for the NatWest Island Games as head of the Falklands’ delegation.
Asked whether he supports the idea of a single electoral constituency for the Falklands, which may the subject of a referendum later in the year, MLA Summers said he opposed the initiative because he doesn’t believe that “this would either make people better represented or be good for the development of democracy”.
“If a change needs to be made a 6-2 split would be a fairer representation”, said Summers. Currently Stanley is represented by 5 MLA and the Camp constituency by 3.
MLA Summers said that as well as taking an active interest in the rural development strategy, his priority issues will include the economy and foreign affairs, areas where he has a vast experience as former Chair of the Standing Finance Committee for ten years and ex-spokesman for the Legislative Assembly from 2005 to 2009.
Regarding relations with Argentina MLA Summers said he can bring “some experience to add to the team’s work in countering Argentine claims”. In the election manifesto he described the current Argentine government to be “as aggressive as it has been for many years, we risk losing ground in both political and economic spheres, and there is a need to respond strongly and confidently to their outdated political concepts and downright lies”.
“I have no great expectations of progress with Argentina under the current regime, but will continue to press for universal recognition of our right to self-determination, and a co-operative approach to environmental management in the South West Atlantic”.
Other areas of importance, according to MLA Summers include talking directly to EU institutions, developing a strong North-South commercial air-link and the continuation of a containerised shipping service. The incoming MLA also said that “there are some exciting new opportunities for businesses to take on new challenges, with privatisation of FIG and Ministry of Defence services and servicing the new oil and gas exploration opportunities”.
By Corina Goss –SeAledPR – Stanley