Opposition Leader Ronnie Skelton announced last Thursday that the opposition has formed a shadow cabinet. (Screenshot:HOA)

For the first time in recent memory, the opposition has formed a shadow cabinet where its six members will each assume specific responsibilities largely corresponding to the portfolio of a minister on the government side of the House of Assembly.

Opposition Leader Ronnie Skelton, who announced the plan during the first sitting of the fifth House of Assembly last Thursday, said the arrangement will help the six “shadow ministers” organise their work and stay abreast of the government’s actions.

The shadow ministerial system is well established within the United Kingdom, according to overseas territories expert Dr. Peter Clegg, head of the School of Social Sciences at the University of the West of England.

“It is an important mechanism to assist with government accountability and it is used as a testing ground for potential future ministers of government,” Dr. Clegg wrote in an invited comment to the Beacon. “It is the shadow cabinet’s role to scrutinise the policies and actions of the government and to offer alternative policies.”

Dr. Clegg commended the opposition’s initiative, stating that incorporating all the opposition members might “help keep them united as an opposition and maintain the pressure on the new government.”

A press release issued by the opposition last Thursday lists the focus areas for each opposition member, some of which are shared with a colleague.

Opposition Leader Ronnie Skelton (R-at large)

Finance, food security, gaming, immigration, banking, town and country planning, Shipping Registry, health and social development, alternative energy

Myron Walwyn (R-D6)
Tourism, education, culture, financial services, information and telecommunications technology

Marlon Penn (R-D8)
Health and social development, housing development, trade and economic affairs, financial services, information and telecommunications technology

Julian Fraser (R-D3)
Alternative energy, communication and works

Mitch Turnbull (R-D2)
Natural resources, National Health Insurance, social security, lands, climate change, labour

Stacy Mather (R-at large)
Agriculture and fisheries, food security, education, youth affairs and sports