(Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News)
Senior Member of the House of Assembly and Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser said that he does not feel that the three sister islands are often treated fairly and equally; and therefore, he announced that the time has come for the islands to get their own representation.
Hon. Fraser made the comment during the special sitting that was held in the House of Assembly on December 3 to pay tribute to former Premier and Member Emeritus of the House of Assembly, Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal. The Opposition Member explained that these were some of the things Hon. O’Neal advocated for and he noted that he has not heard Premier Hon. Andrew Fahie mention such matters.
The Third District representative commenced his call for the sister islands’ equity by stating that Virgin Gorda could opt for a more independent stance in comparison to some nations in the region and around the world.
“There are examples in the commonwealth – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland; Nevis with their own administration.” This Hon. Fraser opined could work for Virgin Gorda.
In emphasizing his position Hon. Fraser declared, “Everything Tortola needs Virgin Gorda needs; Virgin Gorda and Anegada. They need police stations or they need police. I have a District its the Third; the police in Road Town serves the Third District. You need a hospital in Virgin Gorda and Anegada. The hospital in Road Town serves the whole of Tortola. Airport, you need an airport, there are some who don’t believe it, but I do. You need an airport. If you had an administration in the Ninth District it’s the only thing, the next closest thing to being an independent country.”
On another note, Hon. Fraser pointed out that Hon. O’Neal was the Ninth District Representative for decades and he further mentioned that Hon. O’Neal “had reach” and possessed qualities to make a difference in that District. Therefore, he said that a successful Ninth District Representative will need to have similar qualities.
“Having a Representative with reach is the only thing that’s going to keep the Ninth District viable. When I say reach I mean somebody who has the ears of the boss whoever he is or be the boss who ever he is; because the kind of resource that you need for that District you cant just be any representative and get it,” the Third District Representative explained.
Representative for JVD and Anegada
Hon. Fraser also announced that the two islands of Jost Van Dyke and Anegada should have their own representative that would draw more attention to their needs. He stated that this comment was not to take a swipe at the current representatives but rather a reminder of one of the things Hon. O’Neal believed in.
“I’m not taking anything away from the District Representative in the Ninth District or the Representative in the Second District, but reality is reality and Mr. O’Neal advocated that those two Islands should have their own representative and I’m an advocate for that,” Hon. Fraser stated.
Hon. Fraser told the House of Assembly, “Another thing that Mr. O’Neal was an advocate of, which is something that I myself was an advocate of that both Anegada and Jost Van Dyke needs its own representative. Until I hear my leader who is the Premier speaking that language I’m not following. That’s forward thinking and its progressive. Those are the kinds of things that we need to move this country forward.”
The Representative added, “In my view every Virgin islander is a citizen of the BVI and no one should have an advantage over the other. I would say to you that a pallet of block over in Anegada should cost the same as a pallet of blocks in Tortola. Until that happens the guy in Anegada is at a disadvantage. If we have a man in this House pounding the table sitting at the table looking for his slice of the pie equally as everyone else from those particular islands Anegada and Jost Van Dyke.”
He also pointed out that the Constitution already makes provision for the House to be expanded, and this he noted can facilitate the two sister island representatives.
“The Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007 makes provision for the expansion of the House of Assembly. Some people were arguing for a Sixth Minister and the compromise reached in order to get this Sixth Minister was that we would have to expand the House of Assembly," Hon. Fraser stated.
He further explained, "Proportionately there would have to be a proportionate number of members who are not Ministers. One of the compromise is that in order to get a Sixth Minister you must have to expand the House by two …the option is there to do this; and I haven’t heard the Premier’s views on these matters yet, but I am just reminding that that was one of the things that Mr. O’Neal put forward.”