The House of Assembly recently passed a resolution creating a committee to establish a system for going paperless. (Photo: DANA KAMPA)

The year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the restoration of the territory’s legislature, and as the year comes to a close members are taking action to make the House of Assembly a little greener.

The HOA passed a resolution on Nov. 25 to form a special select committee to guide efforts to reduce its use of paper.

Under the resolution, which was Gazetted on Nov. 30, the committee is tasked with implementing a technological system that will replace the use of printed documents.

House Speaker Julian Willock will act as chairman, and Opposition Leader Marlon Penn will be the deputy chairman of the 12-person committee.

When introducing the resolution, Premier Andrew Fahie said going paperless will ideally make the HOA’s manner of operating more modern, efficient and professional.

“It shows that we continue to grow as a territory,” Mr. Fahie said. “I thank the members on all sides of the aisle, because I know one thing that we do have in common and are mutually aligned with is to ensure that we advance the way that the House of Assembly performs not only in legislation, but also in terms of technology and methodology.”

He didn’t offer a specific timeline, but Mr. Fahie said the project would be carried out “in record time.”

Security

The premier also highlighted the importance of ensuring that strict security measures are maintained during the switch to digital documentation. He added that even “the best of systems can be hacked,” but the committee would focus on making the new system as secure as possible.

Mr. Penn, who has pushed for a paperless revolution for years, said he agreed that the time is now to focus on modernising the House.

“An important component of that is through technology and revolutionising the way that we do business here as a House,” Mr. Penn said.

He said a series of pending legislative items concerning digital issues, including the Data Protection Act 2019 and Electronic Filing Act 2019, will help usher in this digital change.

“Covid has taught us the importance of information communication technology, ICT, and the role they will play in terms of the whole new dynamic that is upon us in terms of Covid,” Mr. Penn said, noting how many households have been forced to learn how to work and school from home on a steep learning curve.

‘Green agenda’

Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley said the “green agenda is moving quickly,” under the current administration. He added that the switch to e-government should save money and time once it’s established.

He also praised Cabinet Secretary Sandra Ward, who is also a member of the special committee, for her guidance based on similar changes made in Cabinet.

“With her assistance, I know we’ll get something fit for purpose,” Dr. Wheatley said. “The process that we currently use in Cabinet is excellent. … If that is any indication, I think it will make our lives a lot easier here in the House of Assembly.”

Junior Minister for Trade and Economic Development Shereen Flax-Charles said she fully supported the endeavour, saying she knows very well how much paper is used based on the weight of the document-laden bag her husband carries to and from the ferry dock for her.


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