The Speech from the Throne last week laid out an ambitious legislative agenda that could greatly benefit the territory. But it is a tall order.

As usual, the government has grandly overpromised instead of laying out a practical list of legislation that would be feasible to pass in a year.

Nevertheless, the House of Assembly did move very quickly during its last session. As Governor John Rankin highlighted in the speech, it passed an impressive 43 pieces of legislation — as much as triple the output of some other years over the past decade.

Moreover, most of the laws passed recently were badly needed, including whistleblower and integrity legislation, e-government bills, justice reforms and many others.

The fast pace is welcome. Legislators, after all, are paid to make laws, and too often in the past they have moved far too slowly.

However, we also feel compelled to qualify our praise with a word of caution. At times over the past year, we noted signs that legislators perhaps did not fully understand the bills they were debating, and their public discussions too often veered away from substantive discussions into distractions and politicking.

Moreover, we are not confident that the territory is prepared to properly implement and enforce all the bills passed recently.

Consider, for instance, the Consumer Protection Act 2020, which was passed in 2020 and came into force last year. The law requires the establishment of a trade commission, but to date no members have been appointed to that body. Moreover, operating the commission could be costly and time-consuming.

And that is just one example of the many practical considerations that should be carefully considered before a bill is passed.

Moving forward, then, we hope that legislators will continue at their recent pace, but replace the political squabbling with in-depth dialogue focused on the nuances and feasibility of the legislation before them.

If they do that, they will doubtlessly make important progress on the laudable plans laid out in the Throne speech last week.

Well-conceived bills on the agenda include education and health reforms, governance improvements, immigration and labour bills, and measures designed to boost the economy by building the local workforce, among many others.

At least two of the planned bills have been promised for more than a decade without ever being tabled in the HOA, including legislation on environmental management and freedom of information. Passing these urgently needed laws would be a particularly impressive feat for a government that has only been in office for about three years.

But effectively tackling the ambitious agenda will require an enormous amount of hard work. It will also require HOA members to operate with a laser focus, sloughing off old habits that have slowed the legislative process for decades.

As the current government approaches the start of its fourth year in office, the public will be watching both sides of the aisle very closely.