At a press conference on Monday, Premier Dr. Orlando Smith acknowledged that the Attorney General’s Chambers may need additional resources to help boost the office’s ability to write legislation.
Government’s legislative output consistently falls far short of its plans.
For example, lawmakers passed less than 15 percent of the bills and amendments described in Governor Gus Jaspert’s first Speech from the Throne in the six-month session that followed it. And in the 18 months before that March address, only about eight of the 45 distinct pieces of legislation — about 18 percent — mentioned in former Governor John Duncan’s final Throne speech in September 2016 became law.
Some of the long-promised bills, including legislation designed to overhaul the territory’s environmental rules, child welfare protections, and disaster management protocols, as well as establish a freedom-of-information regime, could have serious positive impacts on the territory. None have seen much in the ways of public advancement, however.
Asked by the Beacon about government’s lack of legislative progress, Dr. Smith (R-at large) pointed to the complexities involved in passing bills.
Their impact must be analysed, he explained, and they require significant time for public consultation and drafting.
“Sometimes the situation changes from time to time internationally, which can affect what we do here, and that also will cause some change in our approach to these laws,” the premier added.
Still, he noted that extra resources would help the process.
“I have confidence in the attorney general, and he’s doing his work, but I do believe that the department could be better resourced, and in fact we’ve had that conversation just recently,” Dr. Smith said.
Lawmakers are also going to review how the Speech from the Throne is drafted, he added.
Attorney General Baba Aziz could not be reached for comment.