Michael Dunkley called on Bermudians to return the OBA to office tomorrow as the island goes to the polls.
In the final party press conference before election day, the premier noted the OBA’s record on tourism and improving the economy.
“We have made progress in restoring jobs, opportunity and hope, but we still have a ways to go,” he said.
“Our mission is to extend the recovery and renewal into every household. Now [PLP leader David] Burt and his colleagues have been trying to convince you that the choice in this election is between them and us, but the real choice is actually much simpler and much more important. Will Bermuda move forward or back?”
He noted campaign promises to modernise the infrastructure of the island’s schools, explore the concept of an educational authority and the $2,500 Jump Start savings programme, saying the OBA have a “broad programme to progress Bermudian life”.
Asked if the OBA had done enough to return Bermudians to the work force, he accepted that employment remains a key topic of conversation this election season.
“From where we came from, that’s to be expected,” he said. “We were in a dire situation back in 2011, 2012, when jobs were being lost at a rapid pace. When you have to turn around the economy as we did, we knew it was not going to be straight up like an arrow to where we want to go.
“We balanced that with making sure we brought the investment into Bermuda, return confidence as we had to do, and against that backdrop we have a very tough immigration policy. We have professionals who sit on that board every week, read through those permits and scrutinise them up and down.
“We have worked with the Immigration Department, and Work Force Development to make sure those opportunities are there.”
However he added that companies should work to not only hire Bermudians, but train them given the economic turn around.
And challenged about the condition of the island’s schools, he noted that the OBA launched the SCORE Report and has since begun work to address the issues raised.
“I don’t think the government that was around in 2012 wants to talk about the work that they did, but they will use it as a political football, hence why we want to investigate an Education Authority.
“You have got to take the politics out of education because the only way we will move forward is if we take the politics out of it and stop our children being used as pawns.”
Nick Kempe, who is running in Pembroke West Central, said the OBA had brought the island “back from the brink” and the impact has been felt by many people.
“The job is not done. There is still certainly more to do and coming in for another term will allow us to balance the budget, expand social programmes and be able to work on the things that an expansive revenue base allows us to.”
“The prosperity that many have felt needs to be felt by all, and we appreciated the opportunity to continue our work for the next five years.”
Meanwhile Nandi Outerbridge, who is defending the St George’s West seat, said she was thankful that the OBA gave her the opportunity to make a difference in the constituency.
“St George’s had become a commercial ghost town, let down by false promises of a new hotel, misled on the disappearance of cruise ships, shocked by the bulldozing of a thriving community golf course and disappointed by the lack of support to keep the old town’s structure functioning.
“The change in the old town from then to now is simply amazing. People are positive, people are optimistic and things are finally happening.”
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