Panton makes history

| 13/12/2013

(CNS) Full report: After more than three hours of wrangling and wrestling at the committee stage and around 35 amendments, Wayne Panton made history on Friday evening when he finally steered the National Conservation Law through the Legislative Assembly with full support from across the floor. With more than a decade of conversation on the law, the PPM's environment minister was finally the man that managed to pass the law that will, for the first time, give legal protection to Cayman's unique and diverse land-based and marine-based natural resources.The debate had been acrimonious at times, with the opposition leader describing it as unintelligible and the independent members calling it a land grab.

Legislators spent three days on the debate, and despite their attack on the bill during that time, all members of the opposition benches, including the two independent members, gave it their resounding backing when it went to the final vote.

This was a result of some amendments, such as the word "purchase" replacing the word "acquire" in clauses relating to land that could become protected. In addition, the clause banning the use of spear guns was changed following a government back bench rebellion. The requirement for those caught in a marine park with conch or lobster to demonstrate that it was not taken from that protected area was also removed.

However, most of what was seen by many as a controversial law survived and despite the acrimony between Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush and Premier Alden McLaughlin, especially at the end of Friday’s debate, all of the legislators in the House voted a resounding 'yes' to the bill.

Ministers Moses Kirkconnell and Osbourne Bodden, who had both offered their full backing to the bill during the debate last week, were absent. They were therefore the only two MLAs not to record their support and join what would have been a unanimous vote.

The premier had pressed the importance of the bill in his contribution and said it was “one of most important pieces of legislation to come to assembly in many years”, as it was about protecting everything that is dear to the Caymanian people. In the face of last minute opposition and attacks on the bill, McLaughlin said that the government had spent a considerable amount of time and effort and had thought “long and hard” about the legislation. He pointed to the five lawyers in the administration who had also made contributions and noted there would be committee stage amendments.

McLaughlin said there had been manymistakes in the past in Cayman regarding development, which he said was understandable given the circumstances. However, going forward this legislation would prevent future mistakes and see that care and consideration would be taken when it came to future development and the environment.

He highlighted the fact that the opposition leader, who has often promoted the efforts he claims to have made regarding conservation, voted against the marine park laws, for which he was rebuked by Bush when he finally got up to make his contribution.

Bush, the UDP leader, said that he had been waiting to see what the amendments would be and he had not planned to speak on the bill but was goaded into doing so because the premier “could not get up in the House unless he has something derogatory to say about this leader of the opposition".

He accused the premier of having a “happy knack of trying to chastise” him. Regardless of McLaughlin’s claims to have a mandate, Bush reminded the premier that he did not win the election outright.

“He had to be palsy-walsy with those he said he would never be palsy-walsy with,” Bush stated, adding, much to the amusement of the members, that he “didn’t just dance with 'em” but that he “must’ve taken some of them home” in order to form the government.

Insisting that he was not against conservation, Bush said he believed that Cayman had to accept that to get where it is today it had to give up something. He pointed to the loss of habitat and asked where the country would be if it had not “given up something”. He said there was already too much red tape for developers and investors and that while the UK wanted more bureaucracy in Cayman, it was cutting out 1,000 pages from its own planning rules.

Bush maintained that enforcing the conservation legislation was going to be very costly, despite denials of this by government, and the country would lose opportunities because of it.

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Comments (53)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Done without Brackers! Where was Moses, opening hi little pet KX project in Cayman Brac? What a freaking waste of money! Let's see how long that will last..

  2. Anonymous says:

    WTH is a "happy knack"????

  3. Compost says:

    Oh dear. The Texas Tea Party reps have contrived to compare the passage of the NCL with the American Affordable Care Act.

    Not democracy? What part of unanimous do they not understand?

    They are lamentably out of touch with the community.

  4. Pliny the Meddler says:

    The other media house has been notably quiet on this subject since Friday.

    Must be trying to come up with some face saving explanation for being on the wrong side ofpublic sentiment and history.

    And curious that they have not circulated the results of their poll. Hmmmm.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hold on a second, there were some 50 amendments tabled of which 35 were incorporated, and as of now, no news agency or voter has a hardcopy of the actual law to know what it is.  Such is the opacity of the LA in what Cabinet hails as a new age of transparency.  That is the indisputable reality.

      • Anonymous says:

        How ridiculous can you get?! The law was passed late Friday afternoon and today is Monday! How on earth do you think you have any credibility in commenting that the full copy of the amended law has not been available yet and this reflects some lack of transparency? In any event the changes to the law were definitely of little substance so rest assured the fundamental intergity of the law was retained!

        • Anonymous says:

          Now it's the end of Monday and still no media can say what the amendments were.  Only 35 of them by the way.

      • Anonymous says:

        The proceedings and all amendments were televised live for all to witness. 

         

        I am sure they will shortly make available a print copy of the amended bill.

         

        It passed at 6pm on Friday night.

         

         

         

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is a significant accomplishment for Gina Pertrie-Ebanks and team at DOE.  I know how hard you all have work on this over the many years.  

    Thanks to the memberd of the LA who have FINALLY pulled their heads out of the sand and voted for this.  Thank you Wayne for listen to the expertise Gina and DOE have put presented and moving things forward in Cayman

  6. Anonymous says:

    Gonna be a lot of happy lawyers now because this legislation is a minefeld.

    What I cannot understand is why CIG never seem to employ the lawyers before these laws are drafted so pretty much guaranteeing they will end up paying them big bucks when people start to challenge them in the Courts.   

     

  7. A Friend of Nature says:

    Congratulations Wayne, Ezzard and all the members of our Government for working together to finally bring this piece of legislation to fruition. We thank you.

    Now until we get a comprehensive development plan with teeth, developers, thru the Central Planning Authority, and with the acquiescence of politicians, will find ways to circumvent this conservation law.  So we beg you, please implement a new and Comprehensive Development Plan now, to go hand in hand with conservation. Otherwise this law will fall by the way side like so many other well intended laws, that are still exist on the books, but have never been enforced. 

  8. Anonymous says:

                 CNS,I  believe a more appropriate title for this article would be "LA makes History". I watched the live broadcast of the debate that took place in the committee stage of the NCL Bill,and I am proud to say I watched this history being made.The MLAs on this occasion conducted the business of the house in a manner that should make us all hopeful for the future.There was compromise,alot of good natured bantering and give and take between the Minister  and those on the opposition side who wanted amendments made..For those who believe that our MLAs cannot get along , I would recommend watching a rebroadcast of these proceedings.

     

    • And AnotherTing says:

      I quite agree with CNS I believe., the passing of the bill was with full acquiescence of all based  on reasoned amendments introduced. As much as Mr. Panton was the mover, in the final analysis all approved. And Another Ting.

      • Anonymous says:

        oh please… just give the man his due!

        • Enlightened Bracker says:

          Correct. They all wanted to jump on the bandwagon in the end, but the undeniable fact is that Minister Panton brought the Bill to the House and pushed hard against extreme opposition until it was passed.

          No politician has had the courage to bring this legislation to a vote before.

          So the real credit goes to the Minister, as well as those who fought for the country’s corner in the background.

          Those who published misleading commentaries and viewpoints in the local media in an effort to derail the NCL should reflect on their own actions. They are no friends of Cayman.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Now that we have this law in place, the big question is "will it be enforced"?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Great news!  Now cancel the Port!

  11. Miller Time says:

    Amendment 1: Delete page 1
    Amendment 2: Delete page 2
    Amendment 3: Delete page 3

    How many pages are there???

  12. Anonymous says:

    Contratulations to the PPM. Hopefully the 35+ amendments have not removed any more of the blunted teeth from the law. I predict that in10+ years those against will be saying thanks for this law. Much like has happened wth the Marine Conservation law.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Excellent news!! Congrats Wayne.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The land owners in North Side owe a great dept og gratitude to our fearless leader Ezzard Miller who has stood as the vanguard of our inherited property rights against the conservation juggarnaunt represented in the PPM proppsed National Conservation Bill. It is the amendments to their bill proposed by Ezzard that made the bill acceptable to all members and removed or changed the powers of the Council that made the bill acceptable to all members of the Legislative Assembly. You may call Ezzard by any mane you chose but he is not afraid to take a stand with the people he represents reguardless of the odds or how unpopular the stance may be with some quarters of Caymanian society. You cannot give Minister Panton all the credit for the law the  amended bill some 40 plus amendments most of which originated from Ezzard, bears Ezzard's signature as much as Minister Panton. Had the PPM accepted some of Ezzard's 14 amendments to thier Immigration Bill, thge country and especially Caymanian labour would be better of today.

    Thanks Ezzard we love ,respect and enjoy your "participatory democracy" please continue to inform and consult us on district and national matters.

    grateful North Side land owner

    • Fruits and Nuts says:

      Must be eating too much Cadburys.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ezzard is a necessary critic in the LA … don't forget that without Ezzard during the Bush years, alot of birdies would have flown over the coo coo's nest. I would not dare discard his debates as trivial.

  15. Anonymous says:

    U nan a mus! Shocker.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Conservation Bill done.Gambling next?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Great.  Now can we please turn to more important issues like the rife corruption in government and misuse of public funds, abuse of office, so we at least have a Cayman to apply this law to by pulling our heads out of the sand, thank you.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Why do I want to say nothing until we have seen the amendments?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Panton will have made history but not in the way he thinks!!  

  20. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to Wayne and especially to Gina,Tim and John for the many years of sweat and tears not to mention the late nights.

    This bill was brought by many people and they all deserve credit. Now Mr Panton please make sure the government supplies the funds to give officers the tools to do their job.

    Well done, a Christmas I will remember.

    Watch out poachers, here they come!

  21. Gut Check says:

    My only reservation in regard to the NCL was the mention of "greenhouse gasses" and "climate change".   Regardless of one's view of these variables, I don't believe that our fair country has the wherewithall to affect them one way or the other.  

    We will see.   Otherwise, good job all who were involved.   It needed to be passed. 

  22. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful news!!! This lands natural resources are soimportant to the future of these isles.

    Much of the tourism relies on the stability and cleanliness of the environment, and the cleanliness and stability of the environment is an attraction to so many in the financial sector.

    I just hope developing industry is monitored, for instance that new distillery is producing a huge amount of highly acidic effluent.  How and where is it being discharged?  These are questions 

    the DOE and CIG Government must address and regulate before it is too late.

  23. SKEPTICAL says:

    This is a huge step forward for Cayman, and will give us considerabe global credibility. The next stage is for the Courts to impose severe sentences on those found ignoring the legal limits for taking lobster and conch, whether in, or outside, the designated seasons. How many times do we hear that people have been found with catches of 100+ conch – why have they not been heavily fined, and/or imprisoned. There are no excuses for this behavior. If this is allowed to continue, one day their will be nothing for them to catch, or for the rest of us to enjoy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cabinet is already fully prepared to violate NCL on a massive scale (by any global standard) with the proposed Cruise Berthing Piers – how do you like that for credibility?

  24. Anonymous says:

    I'd like to see the amendments before I congratulate anyone.

  25. Anonymous says:

    It passed unanimously?  What am I missing?

     

    • Anonymous says:

      A real shocker to us all – given the way the other side of the floor campaigned against the Bill.

      However I am very heartened to see that everyone was willing to move beyond whatever position that had taken previously – and do what was in the best interest of the country. The Government was willing to compromise and make reasonable amendments to allay Ezzard & Arden's fears – even though they already had asafe majority and did not need their votes. And the opposition + A & E were willing accept the Bill with amendments made to satisfy thier greatest concerns. 

       

      I am extremely proud of ALL of our elected representatives today. 

       

      This will be a moment that we look back on with great pride and graditude to our leaders for making the right decision. 

  26. Anonymous says:

    well done ppm….but how about doing something that will actually improve the economy of cayman!…..

  27. Anonymous says:

    take that ezzard!…..

    but then again rooster wiill always entertain you every tuesday morning with your weekly dose of backwardness……zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • Anonymous says:
       
  28. Anonymous says:

    So I wonder how the Compass and Dart feel about that??

  29. Chris says:

    To the Environment with a KISS

    Keep It Simple Stupid – After reading the Bill, now Law, I came away thinking "why cant we keep it simple".

    Clearly state what flora and fauna we are trying to protect, eg. Stingray, Cayman Parrot, Blue Iguana, (not the green one please!) and identify the areas where these flora and fauna inhabit that are key to conserve.

    Once we know what we are protecting, why we are protecting it and where it is then there should be no need for three quarters of the other items mentioned in the bill.

  30. 4Cayman says:

    What's the cayman compass to do now? Long overdue Wayne! Well done. Hopefully we can get our WB road back too!

  31. BORN FREE says:

    Congratulations Minister Wayne P. And it is very good to see the whole House coming together for the best interests of the future of Cayman. The report says that everyone, including the opposition & the independents, gave it their full support, therefore the whole House deserves to be congratulated! Thank you Minister Wayne, & all the Legislators

    • Anonymous says:

      }}}}}}}}}}}}}}} Sleepless ABERIC tonight {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{

    • Anonymous says:

      Congratulations to Mr. Panton for his passion for the environment and his willingness to listen, and to the opposition for holding out for the amandments.  Good work Arden and Ezzard.

  32. Weapons Grade Bollocks says:

    Congratulations to Minister Panton. You have cut the naysayers off at the Legges!

    Job well done.

    • Anonymous says:

      Congratulations Mr. Panton, the problem here though is Caymanians sold out to foreigners and they are destroying what little we have left!!!!

  33. Anonymous says:

    Congrats Wayne for being a leader in environmental preservation!  Thank you to all who voted to pass this bill.

     

  34. Anonymous says:

    Huge congratulations to Minister Wayne Panton! This is an impressive achievement, and though we don't know what the amendments amount to, this law  will allow Caymanians create a far more coherent, sensible and structured plan for the island, one that respects our natural assets and gives them their proper value in the scheme of things. Congratulations Sir, and to the House!

  35. Anonymous says:

    Well done, Wayne!

    • Hoping for better days says:

      Ye, "well done". Now, can we make a decision about the DUMP? Or is that toooooo much to ask of our "representatives"….I will be proud when they come-up with a solution to our biggest problem in Cayman, Mount Trashmore! That should have been addressed FIRST!