'Caruana repeats the same promises almost every New Year message.

NEW YEAR MESSAGE from PDP LEADER KEITH AZOPARDI
We could be as little as 18 months away from an election. As we near that date it is important to reflect on where we are and on the future. Gibraltar is a fantastic small nation. We are small enough to make things happen quickly. For that we need enthusiasm, willingness, confidence and dedication.

I sense a real tiredness with the failures of the present Government. Mr Caruana repeats the same promises almost every new year's message. How many times will Government repeat that it will complete the Waterport Terraces developments "this year"? How many times will they launch and re-launch the projects of the Eastside, new prison and so on. These are projects that I initially announced when I was a Minister in 2003. That is how long it is taking for Government to deliver. How many times will they promise accountability only to allocate land directly such as in the south district projects? How many times will they promise proper supervision of housing projects and then have fiascos such as Nelsons Views and Cumberland Terraces? How many times will they promise due diligence and then allow developers without track record to handle key public projects - such as OEM - or award contracts to contractors in severe financial trouble - such as Haymills. How many times will they promise an end to the traffic chaos and how many days must we reflect on those promises in traffic queues or whilst looking for a parking? How many times will they promise democracy and reforms of the Parliament when these were supposed already to have happened? How many times will we hear there is a new climate with Spain only to find that we are locked in legal battles, political harassment or incursions into our waters by Spain? How many times will a new mental health hospital be promised? How many times do we need to go to the brink of an environmental disaster for there to be a formal oil pollution cooperation strategy with Spain? MASSIVE WASTE It is true that we are weathering the economic storm better than most in Europe. But we are not beyond the recession and we could do much better. Part of doing better would be to manage our money better. The building of a 50 Million air terminal is still a massive waste of resources. A smaller terminal would do and then monies could be ploughed into social services, health, traffic or the environment. It would even make more sense to explore the possibility of lengthening the runway rather than ploughing much needed resources into a huge building that will lie empty.

Proper management of issues is not just about the day to day matters. It is about having a strategy and ideas for the future. That is the problem with being in Government for so long. It is now merely reacting to problems that arise. There is little by way of real strategy. This is made much worse by the terrible lack of an effective Parliamentary opposition. That is what happens when you have had political leaders who have led their parties for decades; for entire generations. Mr Bossano has been at the forefront of the GSLP for 33 years. Mr Caruana has led the GSD for 20 years. An alternative to the present Government does not lie in returning to the past. Sooner or later the political torch must pass to a new generation. The Progressive Democratic Party was born only a few months before the 2007 election. We always said we would need some years to build a solid platform and looked to this next election in 2011 as the true electoral test for us. When the political torch is passed we aspire to be there to drive the social and economic agenda forward.

Kaiane Aldorino's tremendous victory in becoming Miss World showed the massive potential of our young people and how we have such huge untapped talent around us. That talent must be liberated and enthused. Not enough is being done for our young people or young families.

Gibraltar is a place that produces talented individuals in many fields. Those young people must be given the opportunity to succeed and prosper.

Change will not happen if we believe that Mr Caruana or Mr Bossano are indispensable. They are not. In the same way as in the years before they arrived on the scene there were other talented political leaders such as Sir Joshua Hassan, Peter Isola, Bob Peliza or Adolfo Canepa governing Gibraltar there will be a new generation of leaders that will emerge after the present Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition. Indeed it would be strange if that were not to happen.

Gibraltar is not unique that way. It will happen.

To enshrine change and constant regeneration we believe it is important for there to be termlimits.

CHANGE The PDP in Government would introduce legislation and support constitutional change that would ensure that Chief Ministers serve for a maximum of 8 years. That will lead to a constant and healthy regeneration of parties and of ideas. 8 years is long enough to make real impact and carry out change. Staying too long leads to a stale lack of ideas. That is not good for our small community. It is also important to govern in a more inclusive, democratic way. Enough of the divisive and negative acrimony.

This next year will bring many challenges on territorial waters, social services, housing, the economy, the environment, traffic and the health services. Gibraltar has the potential to thrive and develop. With better management and political leadership we could further enhance our small country into a modern, well-run, efficient place with good infrastructure, well maintained roads, better health facilities, a sustainable environmental policy and better quality of life for our citizens. We firmly believe we can produce all that. We have the enthusiasm to deliver. During this year the Progressive Democratic Party will be working hard to convince Gibraltar that we are ready to carry the political torch now and should be elected to Government in 2011.




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