Robinson claims Bahamian democracy being “strangled”

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Member of Parliament for Bain and Grants Town, Travis Robinson. (FILE PHOTO)

“Archaic” rules need a revamp

Bain and Grants Town Member of Parliament (MP) Travis Robinson broke his silence Wednesday morning, as he called for a select committee to review the relevance and effectiveness of the Westminster system.

His request came a little over one week after he and two other parliamentarians were axed from their government appointed positions as parliamentary secretaries. One of the three was the chairman of a government appointed board.

The trio – Robinson, Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller and Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine – were fired after they voted against government’s plan to raise value-added tax (VAT) from 7.5 per cent to 12 per cent.

The rules outlined in the Westminster system are to blame for the trio’s dismissal.

According to its rules, officials appointed by the government to serve within the public sector, must vote in favor of all decisions proposed by the government.

Anyone who opposes must be recused of their posts.

On these grounds, Robinson requested that the Speaker establish a select committee to review the “archaic”, set of rules.

“It is my fundamental belief that no member should be placed in a position to choose between the party and the people they represent in this honorable house,” Robinson touted.

“Such a position strangles Bahamian democracy; choking the life out of it.”

He also called for the government to tailor a new democratic hybrid system of governance.

“A hybrid system of governance where no member in this honorable House of Assembly will ever be fired again for choosing between a fundamental belief and the direction of his party,” he asserted.

“Let my termination and that of my other colleagues be the last of its kind.”

Robinson confirmed that he was aware of the consequences tied to his decision as he voted but, he chose to stand for the underprivileged demographic.

“It was not on a whim or on the base of misinformation but after much consideration that I voted as I did on the budget and the bill to increase VAT,” he said.

“My reasoning was explicitly stated in my contribution to the budget communication in the week prior. When I said to my constituents on the campaign trail, ‘I will fight for you, I will go to bat for you, I will stand up and speak out for you,’ I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”

Now relegated to a back-bench position in his party, Robinson asserted that his focus remains unwavering.

“I stand proud as a representative for the people fulfilling the promise to be their voice, to be their hope, to be their servant, whatever the course,” he said.

“Difficult decisions are a part of the job and acting with honesty and integrity frequently appears to result in a personal disadvantage.”

The young politician thanked the prime minister for the contributions he made to his burgeoning political career.

“I wish to extend my gratitude to the prime minister for the opportunity to serve in the capacity as Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation. The experience has been invaluable and through it, I have gained a great insight into the functions of the ministry and by extensions, the government,” he noted.

“I appreciate the opportunity to learn the inner workings of the ministry, the work undertaking by the staff and the need for effective communication and cohesion among and between legislators, policymakers, public officials and civil servants.”

He also sought to underscore his commitment to the Free National Movement (FNM).

“Make no mistake about it, the FNM is still a party for young people, by young people and with young people,” he said.

“I am sticking with the FNM.”

Robinson thanked the people of Bain and Grants Town and Bahamians at large, for their continued support.